Opening remarks on HDI Transition and Inception of the Country Programme Workshop

Dec 5, 2012

Opening Remarks by Toily Kurbanov
UNDP Country Director in Myanmar

Your Excellency, Deputy Minister,
Esteemed partners and friends, government officials,
Dear UNDP colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this workshop on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme.

We are meeting at an exciting time. The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is pursuing large-scale, high-pace comprehensive reforms in various areas, which have created bright hopes and high expectations of improvements in people’s lives. And so is UNDP in Myanmar embarking its own change process, hoping to redefine our own identity and priorities in close consultation with the government and other stakeholders, and together with you to find possible effective solutions to the challenges and priorities of the new Myanmar.

Having said that much about our hopes and possibilities, I recall words of wisdom, which came from one young gentleman on another occasion. He said: “Possibilities are not probabilities, and will not certainly become actualities by themselves. We must strengthen preparations and put trust in our capabilities and efforts.” The gentleman was General Aung San, and the occasion was in 1945 as the country was on the way to achieve independence under his leadership. Those words resonate even today and help set the agenda for our workshop.

As the Deputy Minister spoke few minutes ago, we have many priorities to discuss in regards to the end of UNDP’s Human Development Initiative and seamless transition from the community-level work to new priorities of the Country Programme. His speech demonstrated acute awareness of the priorities for our joint work, which we endorse wholeheartedly. Let me add just as few words from UNDP perspective on the vision, the strategy of this transition and concrete actions that we will need to discuss and to agree at the workshop.

Vision. With the ongoing reforms in Myanmar the government is taking the driver’s seat to lead delivery of development activities and development cooperation in the country. Our role as the development partner is to strengthen national ownership of development programmes and, where necessary, to build the government’s capacity. This is different from the past when UNDP, through Human Development Initiative was directly involved in the delivery of development assistance at the community level.

Strategy.  To respond to this vision, the focus of UNDP’s development cooperation in Myanmar will shift from supporting livelihoods at the grass-roots level to strengthening the capacity of local governments and other institutions of local governance, including local civil society and local media. This way, by focusing on institutions we should be able to achieve stronger and more sustainable development results compared to what was possible in the past.

Actions. Finally, at this workshop we will also consult with the government on concrete actions, which we will jointly undertake to facilitate seamless transition from HDI to the Country Programme. We will discuss what further support will be required to the communities after the end of HDI, how to strengthen their links and partnership with local governments, where to focus priority activities under the proposed Country Programme, and how to strengthen consultative arrangements between UNDP and the government on regular basis.

Your Excellency,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As BogyokeAung San also said almost 70 years ago (and yet those word sound so refreshing even today): “Success comes to those who know in their very consciousness what are their strengths and capabilities.” Let us hope that this workshop will help the government and UNDP to recognize the strengths of HDI and our respective capabilities, which we will bring to bear strong development results in the area of local governance under the proposed Country Programme.

Thank you for your attention.

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