Champasak, 23 November 2017 – The Round Table Implementation Meeting 2017 took place in Pakse, Champasak this year. H.E Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Deputy Prime Minister of Lao PDR and Minister of Finance, and H.E. Mr. Haoliang Xu, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Development Programme Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific officially opened the meeting. The Round Table Meeting continued with co-chairs H.E. Dr. Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment, H.E. Dr. Bounthong Divixay, Governor of Champasak Province and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative. More than 300 participants were present, including high-ranking government officials from the central and provincial levels, development partners, representatives from the private sector, as well as national and international non-profit organizations.
The meeting was organized under the theme: “Greater Partnership for Implementation of the 8th NSEDP: Realizing LDC Graduation and Achieving SDGs”, and focused on four key areas for dialogue: 1. Graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status and the integration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 2. Realizing quality private sector investment for sustainable development; 3. Investment in skills and labour force for human development; and 4. Enhancing south-south cooperation and triangular cooperation.
The Round Table Implementation Meeting consisted of two days. On 22 November 2017, technical consultations were held including a provincial presentation on key progress and challenges in implementing the Champasak Socio-Economic Development Plan and continued dialogue based on key outcomes drawn from pre-consultation meetings in Vientiane capital. In the afternoon of the same day, delegates visited three project sites, based on the priority areas of the Round Table Implementation Meeting: 1. UXO-related activities (Kaeng Yao Village, Barjieng Chaleunsouk District); 2. A coffee plantation project of the Coffee Production Cooperative; 3. The Champasak Southern Skills Development Center.
The following day, a high-level meeting was organized, which discussed progress and challenges in implementing the Annual NSEDP 2017 and agreed on the government’s priorities in the NSEDP 2018, – especially the preparation of the first Voluntary National Review on the SDGs by Lao PDR, as well as the assessment for LDC graduation which will take place in 2018. In addition, the meeting also agreed on the four special focus areas to inform future policies and steps forward.
Addressing the meeting, H.E. Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Deputy Prime Minister stated: “The Round Table Implementation Meeting in Champasak this year has a great meaning to the country as it is the place where all of us gather to discuss preparedness of Lao PDR for the LDC assessment by the UN Committee for Development Policy, which is going to take place in 2018. In addition, it is also a place for us all to exchange comments and draw recommendations on provincial development, based on local potential as defined under the Champasak Socio-Economic Development Plan.”
In his keynote address, Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific stressed the importance of the private sector as a key partner for development: “What our global best practice informs us is that when governments understand the needs of business, and business understands the development priorities of governments, everyone stands to benefit. For this reason, I was especially pleased to hear that the Round Table process and the Lao Business Forum have been able to link up more directly in the run up to this years’ Round Table Meeting. Diverse partnerships hold the key to success in implementing the SDGs.” On invitation of the government of Lao PDR, Mr. Xu is currently visiting Lao PDR for a period of three days.
His Excellency Dr. Bounthong Divixay, Governor of Champasak Province who hosted the meeting, stressed in his welcome remarks: “As a provincial governor, I highly value that the Round Table Implementation Meeting 2017 was organized in our province. It is a meaningful meeting which will benefit our province extensively, because, amongst others, it is a place where we can exchange comments, lessons and experiences on provincial administration and development with our partners, particularly the CLV members. Ultimately it is to enhance partnerships in contributing to the implementation of the 8th NSEDP for realizing LDG graduation and achieving the SDGs.”
H.E. Dr. Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment informed the meeting that “during the first six months, we have mobilized official development assistance of 419.3 million USD or approximately 3,518.38 billion LAK and are expected to reach about 962.7 million USD or 8,078 billion LAK by the end of the year (annual target was set for 8,629 billion LAK). This trend implies continuous commitment and support from the development partners and we urge them to continue supporting the government in implementing the NSEDP, especially in the coming year of 2018. The government will conduct a mid-term review of the implementation of the 8th NSEDP. I seek for support in implementing such an important task by providing assistance in further improving ODA management to become more effective and efficient.”
In her remarks, Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative highlighted how the steps agreed at this year’s meeting link up with critical milestones in the coming year: “In 2018, Lao PDR will be reviewed against markers for graduation from LDC status. It is also the first time that Laos will present its Voluntary National SDG Report at the UN High Level Political Forum in July next year. The steps we have agreed on today are all laying the pathway towards these key developments.”
The Round Table Implementation Meeting was held in a frank, open and inclusive manner, with constructive comments, underlining the importance of partnerships.
After the meeting, the Ministry of Planning and Investment will accompany heads of development partner delegations to pay a courtesy call to the Prime Minister of Lao PDR to report on the outcomes of the Round Table Implementation Meeting 2017.
For more information please visit the Round Table website: http://rtm.org.la
To read the keynote address by Mr. Haoliang Xu, please click here.
To read the opening remarks by Ms. Kaarina Immonen, please click here.
Mr. Morakot Vongxay, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Ms. Ildiko Hamos-Sohlo, Communications Specialist, UN in Lao PDR.
Mr. Somlith Khounpaseuth, Communications Associate, UNDP Lao PDR