Vientiane, 26 February 2016
The Government of Lao PDR and the United Nations share an update on the implementation of the outcomes of the country's main development forum.
Three months after the 12th High Level Round Table Meeting, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – co-chairs of the Meeting – briefed journalists on the way forward in the country's development cooperation.
High Level Round Table Meetings organized every five years from now on provide inclusive and participatory forums to support the design and implementation of the country's national development plans. The 12th edition, organized on 27th November 2015, brought together more than 300 delegates from the Lao Government, donors and south-south partners, UN agencies, private sector and civil society organizations. Participants discussed the overall national development agenda and alignment and harmonization of resources and other development inputs around the priorities of the Government's 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for the period of 2016 to 2020 and its implications for the graduation from Least Developed Country status.
Speaking to Lao media convened at the Lao Journalists Association, H.E. Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice-Minister of Planning and Investment revealed that among other things, the High Level Meeting identified key policy areas, clustered around macro-economics and inclusive growth, social and human development, environmental sustainability, as well as a range of cross-cutting areas like governance, civil society, illicit drugs and UXO.
Dr. Kikeo said: "More stringent and comprehensive concentration on priority areas is essential for the development of Lao PDR. These areas include increased investments to priority sectors like health and education as well as enhancing rural infrastructure and modernization of the agriculture sector, but also food and nutrition security and access to quality education and health."
For maximal impact, these policy areas have to be supported with a strong synergetic approach through greater partnerships, as stipulated in the Vientiane Declaration on Partnership for Effective Cooperation or Vientiane Declaration II, presented at the Meeting and endorsed by 28 partners so far. The Declaration also foresees a shift from official development assistance towards greater partnership and new ways of development financing – including domestic resource mobilization. Indeed, nationally, the private sector is identified as a new partner in development cooperation, whereas on the international arena emerging donors from the Global South are seen as allies.
Another signpost for the future of the country is the post-2015 global development agenda, with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core, as discussed during the 12th High Level Round Table Meeting. These 17 ambitious goals have been agreed on by all United Nations Member States to move the globe on a sustainable development path, with 2030 as a target date. In Lao PDR, the 8th Plan will be the framework of SDG implementation, and progress is being made in integrating them into the Plan.
Answering questions from journalists, Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator emphasized the link between graduation from Least Developed Country status and SDG implementation: "The SDGs provide tools to address persisting development challenges. In order to graduate from Least Developed Country status, Laos needs to focus on rising inequalities, child nutrition and environmental sustainability. The UN works with the Government in finding ways to do this, using the SDGs and the new partnership approach we endorsed in the Vientiane Declaration."
The Government has currently issued an instruction to all Ministries for the implementation of the outcomes of the 12th High Level Round Table Meeting through an inclusive and participatory process. In particular, the 10 Sector Working Groups, key coordination platforms for each thematic area will continue to play a pivotal role in translating the Round Table Meeting's outcomes into action. Throughout 2016, the Government will raise awareness across the country on development discussions on national and sectoral fora. In November this year, a Round Table Implementation Meeting will be organized in a province to report back on progress and identify further steps of action.
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