Through UNDP's work over the past 4 years, over 240,000 people, 85% of them women, gained access to financial services. The new country programme will explore linkages between a variety of development areas, incl. peacebuilding, climate resilience and inclusive growth. Photo: UNDP Picture This / Sai Kham Lynn


Earlier this month, representatives of the Myanmar Government, parliament, state and regional governments, donors and others gathered at the new UN office in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss how the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) can better contribute to sustainable development in Myanmar.

In 2018, UNDP approved a new country programme for Myanmar (2018-2022) with a strong emphasis on collaborative work with a wide variety of partners to help the country achieve sustainable development. The two key focus areas are peace and governance, and planet and prosperity, which are fully aligned with national priorities, including the recently approved Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP).

Myanmar is important to us. Indeed, UNDP is – to some extent – a Myanmar creation. U Thant of Myanmar, the longest-serving UN secretary general, made the 1960s the Decade of Development. The UNDP was set up in 1966, and U Thant chaired the first meeting of its governing council. Those who visit U Thant’s house in Yangon can see a picture of this historic moment.

We have been present in Myanmar for over 50 years. Since the 1960s, UNDP has been continuously adapting itself to respond to the changing context in Myanmar. The new country programme builds upon the achievements of the 2013-2017 programme, which mobilized US$120 million for the benefit of all communities. As a result, 59,000 people benefitted from the construction and renovation of schools, rural health centres and roads through participatory planning. More than 240,000 people, 85 percent of them women, gained access to financial services through microfinance. Myanmar’s 101 female ward and village tract administrators received training, and over 50,000 farmer households were supported in adapting to climate change. UNDP has also provided technical and financial support to the Technical Secretariat of the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee for implementation of the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Under the new programme, we are exploring innovative approaches to tackling the many complex issues facing Myanmar. The country’s development context underscores the interrelationship between peace, governance, environment and sustainable development. As such we are shifting towards more integrated programming and support to United Nations-wide initiatives to better address the interlinkages between peacebuilding and social cohesion, governance, environment and natural resources management, resilience and climate change, and balanced and inclusive growth.

A good example is our work in Rakhine State, generously supported by the Government of Japan. Through an integrated area-based approach, we are tackling a range of development issues in local governance, rule of law, parliamentary development, women’s economic empowerment, livelihoods and social cohesion. We are working with partners at all levels of government, with UN agencies, development partners and civil society groups. By putting all these elements together, the aim is to leverage impact and generate more sustainable results.

We are revamping our strategic planning and communication tools by investing in enhanced monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, including the use of big data. We are forming new partnerships with the private sector and social entrepreneurs. As Myanmar transitions into a market-based economy that is growing more connected regionally and globally, these partnerships will play an essential role in promoting a more inclusive and vibrant economy for all.

An important element of our work is to support the country’s effort to localize and implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have worked closely with the Central Statistics Organization to assess Myanmar’s data readiness for the SDGs and helped produce the first SDG Baseline Indicator Report. With the World Bank, we helped finalize the 2017 Myanmar Living Conditions Survey to better understand the development needs of the country and its communities in all states and regions.

The new country programme will be instrumental in shaping Myanmar’s future, including the general election in 2020. Building on U Thant’s legacy and his decade of development in the 1960s, together we can make this year the beginning of a decade of sustainable development in Myanmar.

Peter Batchelor (South Africa) is the UNDP Country Director for Myanmar. He has more than 20 years of experience in international development, and has worked in UN Headquarters (New York and Geneva) and in the field in Africa, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. 

Prior to his appointment as Country Director in Myanmar, Peter Batchelor served as UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Sri Lanka. He also worked in various leadership capacities in UNDP and other organizations. His experience includes: (1) Regional Manager at the UNDP Pacific Center in Suva, Fiji Islands, (2) Country Director for UNDP Iraq in Baghdad (3) Chief Conflict Prevention and Recovery Team at UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP/BCPR) in Geneva (Switzerland) and New York, USA (4) Project Director, Small Arms Survey at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, and (5) Project Coordinator at the Center for Conflict Resolution, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Peter was an advisor to the Mandela Government in South Africa between 1995 and 1999 on security and economic issues.

Peter holds a PhD and an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge, UK and a BA/BA (Hons) from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is married with one son.

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