Remarks in the Opening Session of RTIM 2017 by Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident RepresentativeNov 23, 2017
2017 Round Table Implementation Meeting
22-23 November 2017 - Champassak Province
Opening Address by Ms. Kaarina Immonen
United Nations Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative to Lao PDR
Your Excellency, Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Deputy Prime Minister of Lao PDR,
Your Excellency Dr. Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment,
Your Excellency Dr. Bounthong Divixay, Governor of Champassak Province,
Dear Haoliang, Excellencies and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen.
Good morning to you all. Sabaidee.
On behalf of UNDP, Co-Chair to the 2017 Round Table Implementation Meeting, it is also my great honour to be able to welcome you here to Champassak.
We have already been richly rewarded for having made the journey, through the generous hospitality of His Excellency Dr. Bounthong Divixay, Governor of Champassak Province and his wonderful team.
Yesterday, we were able to take a closer look at a number of development projects taking place in the province. We were able to see the tangible contribution that local initiatives are making to the achievement of the LDC graduation and to the SDGs.
In addition, yesterday also saw this years’ series of ‘pre-Round Table consultation meetings’, reach their conclusions. I am looking forward to hearing their recommendations in the course of the day.
This is also my fourth Round Table Meeting. So permit me to comment briefly, on what makes this forum worth the care and effort that all partners, especially the Government, invest in it.
Firstly, the Round Table is not just a talking shop – to the contrary. Discussions at the Round Table meetings originate directly from the 10 Sector Working Groups. Or they have been generated from the specific, ‘issue-based’, pre-consultation meetings that are now organised as part of the annual Round Table process.
Secondly, in most instances, the dialogue that takes place at these meetings, leads Government and Development Partners to a more complete understanding of the priority development issues. We cannot, and should not, expect to agree on all matters that appear on the agenda of this forum.
Nevertheless, Round Table meetings do provide a ‘space’ for policy dialogue, in an atmosphere of mutual respect, which is an asset to everyone.
The third major benefit I see, is that of the emergence of a stronger and more diverse partnership, as His Excellency, Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Deputy Prime Minister mentioned in his own remarks.
This vision of the Government, of a broader partnership, was at the heart of the new Vientiane Declaration, endorsed at this forum two years ago. In evidence of that declaration alongside senior representation from government today, we have representatives from the private sector, civil society, the national assembly, provincial authorities, as well as a wide representation of longstanding development partners from the region and globally.
Such a robust development partnership is needed to square up to meet the challenges and ambitions of the 2030 global development agenda.
For the United Nations in Lao PDR, 2017 has been another busy and productive year. Support to the Government has been provided in terms of deepening the SDG integration process, including helping further embed SDG indicators and targets within the monitoring and evaluation framework of the 8th NSEDP.
In this context, the UN, together with Government, recently published the report ‘From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals: Laying the Base for 2030’, to further contribute to the policy dialogue.
More broadly, in its first year of implementation of the Lao PDR UN Partnership Framework, the UN has been engaged in assisting capacity development, coordination support and policy formulation to areas as diverse as governance reform, climate change, rural development, health, education, food and nutrition security, and of course, the UXO sector – in support of achieving the Laos’ specific SDG 18.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Government on steps being taken to meet various international commitments and obligations based on open and participatory processes, which we witnessed during the recent visit by the UN Special Rapporteur.
Looking ahead to 2018, this will include the mid-term review of the 8th NSEDP, the process of LDC graduation, and not least, presentation of the first National Voluntary Review on the SDGs.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge a few partners, who make this Round Table Implementation Meeting a practical realty for all of us. Firstly, the Round Table Chair, His Excellency, Dr. Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment, and His Excellency, Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice - Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and to their team.
Secondly, to all of the development partners, who have participated enthusiastically in the four thematic pre-consultation meetings, as well as those that joined us at preparatory meetings held in Hanoi and Bangkok.
And, not least, to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for their financial support to the Round Table Process.
I very much look forward to the consultations today and wish each one of you success, good health and happiness.