United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator and Chair of the United Nations Development Group, Ms Helen Clark, highlights progress in Lao PDR’s sustainable development.
Ms Helen Clark (fi fth right) and other offi cials pose for a group photo at a meeting in Vientiane on March 14
(KPL) Ms Helen Clark met with high-level officials and representatives of the private sector on March 4, 2017, and launched new UNDP programmes during her farewell visit to the Lao PDR.
“Returning to Lao PDR after my participation in the High-Level Round Table Meeting in 2015, I can see the progress in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), enshrined in the 2030 Agenda. Lao PDR is leading the region in terms of alignment with the global development agenda,” Ms. Clark said, stressing impressive steps since her last visit to Lao PDR in November 2015.
During the official visit, Ms. Clark met Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, commending the Prime Minister on his important initiatives to close tax loopholes, crack down on corruption and ban illegal logging. She referred to the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan as a main entry point to integrate the 2030Agenda into national planning. Ms. Clark also highlighted Lao PDR’s adoption of an 18th national SDG, on removing the unexploded ordnance (UXO) obstacle to human development, and praised the government for its close collaboration with UNDP in this sector, illustrated in a new UXO programme for 2017-2021, which she launched with the government during her visit.
In addition to the new UXO programme, Ms. Clark launched a UNDP-supported programme centered on the implementation of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, as well as a programme on engaging and strengthening the responsiveness of governance structures and administrative systems.
Speaking to the Foreign Minister, Mr Saleumxay Kommasith, Ms Clark congratulated the government on the smooth chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016, including the successful hosting of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits in September last year. She stressed the importance of permanently engaging neighbouring and regional partners in various development policy discussions, including within the Round Table Process.
The UNDP Administrator also mentioned Lao PDR’s administrative and legislative progress towards its goal of becoming a rule of law state by 2020. Ms. Clark noted remaining challenges, such as the enforcement of existing legislation, strengthening of a Human Rights framework and a more conducive legal and operating environment for the work of Civil Society organisations.
With Madame Pany Yathotou, Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Clark discussed the successful transition to the 8th Legislature, acknowledging the National Assembly’s role in providing an increasingly proactive oversight of public services and improving the Lao people’s participation in the decision-making process through the People’s Provincial Assemblies launched last year, as well as such tools as the National Assembly telephone hotline, petitions and public hearings. She also congratulated Lao PDR on its progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Madame Pany is one of 41 women elected to key leadership positions in 2016, resulting in Lao PDR achieving one of the highest percentages of women parliamentarians in the ASEAN region, at 27.5 percent.
Ms Clark also met representatives of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its President, Mr Oudet Souvannavong, to share UNDP’s global vision in terms of engaging the private sector as partners in human development and how this vision can be shaped to fit the context of Lao PDR. She mentioned the importance of the private sector as Lao PDR seeks the transition from its current natural resource-dependent approach to a more sustainable human skills-based pathway.
The Administrator concluded her visit to Lao PDR by meeting with heads of diplomatic missions to thank them for their contributions to effective development through their co-chairing of the Sector and Sub-Sector Working Groups as part of the Round Table Process.
Heads of UN agencies in Lao PDR and UNDP’s staff offered personal farewell messages to Ms Helen Clark, who will end her tenure as UNDP Administrator next month.