Vientiane/New York, 17 July 2018 – the High-Level Side Event entitled Nation SDG 18 “Lives Safe from UXO for Sustainable Development in Lao PDR”, hosted by the Government of the Lao PDR and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organized on the margins of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum in New York. In September 2016, Lao PDR was the first country in the world to formally launch a national Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 18 “Lives safe from UXO, in the presence of the Prime Minister of the Lao PDR H.E Mr. Thongloune Sisoulith and the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
This Side Event, under the Chair of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR , provided an update on the progress of survey and clearance, risk education and victim assistance. The event demonstrated how the Government, in partnership with UNDP and together with other development partners, addresses the obligations under articles 4 and 5 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
In his opening remarks, H.E. Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR stated: “Lao PDR is the most affected country by cluster munitions per capita, resulting in many casualties. UXO contamination continues to affect national development, for instance by limiting the use of land for agriculture, making infrastructure construction costly and dangerous, and holding back development. Therefore, SDG 18 is one of Lao PDR’s top priority goals.”
By committing to national SDG 18 as part of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Lao PDR holds itself - in partnership and with the support of other development partners - accountable to reducing UXO impact and contributing to other development goals.
Under the leadership of the Government, UNDP and development partners have joined hands in providing institutional support to clear the UXO contaminated areas by using improved technology, training de-miners and offering community-based UXO risk education and surveys as well as victim’s assistance, particularly in the most UXO-affected provinces.
“We are grateful to all developments partners who have contributed and continued to contribute generously to the sector bilaterally or through UNDP. Time has come to strive to innovate, to consider not only new technologies but also new funding sources. We should raise the profile of the UXO issue in the Lao PDR, using for instance the likes of new digital technologies to enable fundraising from the general public”, says Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.
The event raised awareness of participants on the progress and challenges of the UXO Sector in the country and encouraged further collaboration and innovative financing.
The Government of Lao PDR and development partners believe that contributing to the implementation of the national SDG 18 can positively impact the broader development agenda leading to the attainment of other SDGs, as well as graduation from Least Developed Country status in the future.
Please read this article in Lao.
Mr. Soulikone Samounty
Deputy Director, UN Political and Security Affairs Division
International Organizations Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 414025
Mr. Somlith Khounpaseuth
Communications Associate, UNDP in Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 267 751, +856 20 777 118 74