Opening Remarks At the Country Programme Steering Committee Meeting

Oct 7, 2013

UNDP Country Programme Steering Committee Meeting, Nay Pyi Taw

Opening Remarks by Toily Kurbanov
UNDP Country Director in Myanmar

Your Excellency, Deputy Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Dr. Daw Khin San Yee, Distinguished government officials, Representatives of development partners,
Fellow UN and UNDP colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have great pleasure and distinct privilege to welcome you on behalf of United Nations Development Programme. 
As Her Excellency Deputy Minister stressed few minutes ago, today’s meeting offers strategic opportunity to take stock of where we are in the rollout of UNDP’s country programme for Myanmar. 8 months after the country programme’s approval by the Executive Board of UNDP and 5 months following the signing of country programme action plan with the government of Myanmar, we believe the time is right to consult with the government and development partners. We have accumulated critical mass of engagements and we need to continue maintain the programme’s alignment with Myanmar’s reforms.
By way of a prologue to the programme review, we will present to you outcomes of UNDP’s transition from Human Development Initiative, as our restricted mandate came to be known for 20 years, to the regular country programme. The transition was a massive undertaking in itself as it aimed for change of UNDP’s identity and operational footprint in the country. We will then review initial progress of the new country programme by each of its constituent pillars – namely, local governance, environmental governance and democratic governance – and consult with you on our future priorities in line with national development priorities and the dynamics of Myanmar’s multiple reforms. And we will conclude by discussing optimal consultative and governance arrangements between UNDP, government and development partners to ensure that the country programme delivers strong results. 
Today our task in UNDP will be not just presenting but also listening to the advice of our main stakeholders. But before I completely switched to the listening mode, please allow me to add to the context by conveying three messages to this Steering Committee:
One. We see the UNDP country programme not as a series of isolated capacity development interventions, however important, strategic and mutually inter-connected they may be, but as a tool made available to national counterparts to support the reform process. As you will note during the presentations all that UNDP has been endeavoring since the programme has started contributes to one of the four waves of national reforms promoted by the government:

  • Our work to support rule of law and access to justice or to develop the capacities of Union Parliament is very closely linked to the first wave of reforms (political and democratic). So is our emerging line of livelihoods support for social cohesion in ethnic and border areas which should contribute to making Myanmar a stronger Union;
  • Our work with government on national development planning, aid coordination and enhancement of statistical systems seeks to contribute to the second wave, the socio-economic reforms which aim to improve the wellbeing and inclusive development of the whole of Myanmar;
  • Our partnership with stakeholders at Union and sub-national level in the area of decentralization and reforming public administration has become a tool to support the third wave of reforms focusing on more decentralized and people-oriented governance and administration;
  • And, finally, our continuing engagement with communities, the government and our sister agency UNCDF in the area of microfinance and making access to financial services possible fits the priorities of the fourth wave of reforms aiming for inclusive development of the private sector.

I hope that today’s discussions will help reinforce the role of UNDP country programme in support of four waves of national reforms.
My second message, ladies and gentlemen, is that UNDP firmly believes in Nay Pyi Taw Accord on Development Effectiveness, which the government of Myanmar and the development partners adopted in January of this year. You will recall that one of the most important priorities highlighted in the Accord – and a critical prerequisite for improved development coordination – was aligning the work of international partners with national priorities. For us in UNDP it was and remains important to put the Nay Pyi Taw Accord into action by supporting the government in the driver’s seat of development cooperation. That is why we felt critical for UNDP to hold annual programme review not on our own but in partnership and close coordination with the government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Therefore, for us today’s Steering Committee is an important occasion to operationalize the rhetoric of national ownership of the development cooperation. 
And my third message, ladies and gentlemen, is that UNDP strives to be learning organization. Not in the sense that we need to study about how to do our work but in the sense that we need to continuously assess results of our work, what we have done well and what we can do better next time; not gloss over issues but learn from experience. As we begin to chart country programme priorities for 2014 we are keen to consult with the Steering Committee on your views about the rollout of each programme pillar. As we say in Myanmar: “Kyun kaing hmi, kaing kyun hmi” – islands rely on reeds, just as reeds rely on islands – so we hope this collective learning will benefit each of us.
With this, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude these opening remarks and wish all of us most productive deliberations during the day. Thank you.

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