Launch of the Adaptation Fund Project - Remarks by UNDP Res Rep Renata Lok-Dessallien

Feb 17, 2015

Your Excellency, U Win Tun, Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry;
Your Excellency, U Ye Myint, Chief Minister, Mandalay Region Government;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a great privilege for me to extend a vote of thanks to the Government of Myanmar for the very successful inauguration of the new climate change adaptation project in the Dry Zone. It was extremely encouraging to see the level of commitment of the Government, both at the Union level and regional level, for the achievement of tangible development impact from this project. The kind of development challenges highlighted by His Excellency U Win Tun and His Excellency U Ye Myint only emphasize the importance of this project to the communities of the Dry Zone.

There are few places in the world where extended droughts, exacerbated by climate change, prove to be as life-threatening as in Myanmar, where the impacts are felt in agriculture and food security, drinking water availability, and livestock survival. In sum; climate change-induced droughts are severely affecting human lives and Government-led development gains. While the international community recognizes the remarkable progress and prosperity aspirations of Myanmar, we must be aware and work together, across different sectors and disciplines to ensure that these efforts are sustained and sustainable.

We can proudly say that more and more people in Myanmar are engaged in productive, social, cultural and political activities; jobs are being created; markets emerging; opportunities multiply. The efforts extended by the Government of Myanmar, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, and development partners in this regard must be commended. And yet, these development benefits are still accessible only by small groups of people. Will we prove effective in significantly reducing or eradicating poverty, exclusion and inequality? Well, only time will tell, but, we can be sure of one thing: unless we tackle development priorities with an integrated, sustainable, and resilient approach, we will continue to face significant barriers at best, and receding development gains, at worst.

In what is known as Myanmar’s Dry Zone small-holder farmers and landless people face the daily challenge of water and food scarcity; therefore accentuating poverty, threats to human health and social exclusion. . Global warming is already bringing additional strains on human lives and overall income-generating opportunities. Moreover, extreme weather events as we know them today will likely become more and more common, adding serious economic losses to be factored in the above-mentioned negative impacts on livelihoods.

In this regard, I am honoured to join hands with the Government of Myanmar in inaugurating this government initiative on addressing climate risks in the Dry Zone. This project stems from a constructive partnership between the Government, led by the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and UNDP from the conception of the idea and throughout the detailed design phase of the project.  

I would like to echo the other distinguished speakers and emphasise the importance of a cohesive collaboration through which this project will deliver results. It is a partnership among various government agencies; and it is a partnership between the Government of Myanmar and UNDP.

Why partnership? Because climate change adaptation cannot be promoted through different agencies working independently. Climate change impacts are so far-reaching and extensive that we can only aim to address them through a cross-sectoral approach. Climate change is challenging us all to adopt new ways of thinking and working. And as the Resident Representative of UNDP, I am excited to see that we are accepting the challenge and committed to surpass it collaboratively.  

Partnership is also important because this project gives us an opportunity for not only expanding the past success of the Dry Zone Greening Department, but also testing new solutions. For this, the most effective way is to work together and share past successes and failures. For many years, the Dry Zone Greening Department has been tirelessly working in this area for the improvement of the environment and people’s living conditions, and you know very well what works and what doesn’t. I want to encourage that innovative approaches are tested for afforestation or watershed management.

I would also like to echo Nicholas in that resilience building is a long-term investment;  in Myanmar, this process is just starting. While this project focuses more on addressing immediate adaptation needs of the Dry Zone, we should use this as a platform for dialogue to discuss what the long-term solution for Myanmar should be, and how the Government should identify, combine and sequence technical and financial resources from the United Nations systems, other donors, development partners and private sectors. UNDP has an extensive network and experience in supporting countries in building resilience, and we stand ready to broker knowledge through South-South collaboration.

Before concluding, let me express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Myanmar, His Excellency U Ye Myint, His Excellency U Win Tun, and all the other Ministers who are present here today, for their dedication and partnership. Let me also remind ourselves that today we are celebrating, because the Government of Myanmar and UNDP are standing at the start line of our joint journey to bring about resilient development for the vulnerable but committed rural communities of the Dry Zone. On behalf of UNDP, I look forward to meeting you all in the not-distant future, as we hopefully once again celebrate the tangible development gains achieved thanks to the efforts which you will all lead and thanks to our long-standing successful collaboration.

Thank you.

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