Round Table retreat sets the 2012 development agenda, with a focus on the off-track MDGs
At a retreat on the Round Table Process, held in Vientiane on 12 January, Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representatives discussed an action plan for 2012 to achieve national development goals and accelerate progress towards the off-track MDGs. The retreat followed on from the Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM) held in Vientiane on 22 November last year that was co-chaired by UNDP.
- Lao PDR joined the Round Table Process in 1983
- The off-track MDGs in Lao PDR include; food poverty; nutrition; maternal health; and environmental sustainability
- US$630 million of funds were mobilized by the Government of Lao PDR and development partners in 2011 to support national development efforts
With four years left to achieve the MDGs discussions at the RTIM focused on tackling the off-track MDGs – food poverty, nutrition, maternal health and environmental sustainability. The Government and development partners stressed the need for additional resources for the health and education sectors. In addition, they promoted the idea of an integrated package of services, using low-cost solutions and involving communities, while stressing the need for more investment and support to achieve the MDGs at district and village levels.
According to Somchith Inthamith, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Round Table Process is essential for resource mobilization and in ensuring that funds are used efficiently. “Foreign assistance plays a critical role in supporting Lao PDR's efforts to achieve equitable and sustainable development goals – both strengthening coordination with the Government, but also by working with the Government to ensure that all development efforts are effective. The Government and donors have the responsibility not just to mobilize money for development, but to spend every (Lao) Kip wisely,” he said.
Official statistics show that US$630 million of funds were mobilized by the Government of Lao PDR and development partners in 2011 to support national development efforts, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Minh Pham, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Lao PDR, stated that the important deliberations at the RTIM will, “provide a welcome opportunity to build on current aid effectiveness successes in Lao PDR and forge a new set of joint actions with the Government.” He added, “If we do so, we can better realize the full potential of our cooperation, turning aid effectiveness into development effectiveness – and tangible development results for all people across Lao PDR.”
RTIM participants further pledged to strengthen coordination on complex multi-sectoral issues such as nutrition, land and climate change, as well as on crosscutting issues of development cooperation such as capacity development and information sharing. Discussions also focused on the importance of including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Round Table Process. The Government responded by expressing its intention to take concrete measures to increase CSO participation.
The innovative interactive format at the RTIM was also noted by development partners to have encouraged dialogue and facilitated coordination, which served as the basis for a “very productive exchange of ideas” with Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Official statements were reserved for submission to keep the floor open for discussions.
Speaking at the RTIM debriefing session, the Prime Minister of Lao PDR, Thongsing Thammavong, congratulated the participants of this year's meeting for their contributions and cooperation to improve development efforts in Lao PDR. “I would also like to thank all development partners for their continued support to Lao PDR and their ongoing commitment to the Round Table Process,” he said.
The Government plans to raise US$15 billion to realize the 7 th National Socio Economic Development Plan 2011 to 2015 with 26 percent stated to come from official development assistance (ODA). The Round Table Process will as a result continue to be a vital tool in mobilizing resources and scaling up development efforts to reach the most at need. Achieving this will ultimately further support the government's efforts to achieve the MDGs and in realizing its overarching goal of exiting Least Developed Country status by 2020.
Lao PDR has participated in the Round Table Proces since 1983, which is the national process for aid coordination and effectiveness led by the Government of Lao PDR and supported by UNDP. The Process comprises Round Table Meetings every three years to review plans, strategies and programmes and commit funding pledges, while RTIM meetings review achievements and recommend further actions.