Speech by His Excellency Abdulla Jihaadh, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives At the Celebratory Event to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of the United Nations Development Programme
05 October 2016, Ref: PS/NRAJ/2016/12

بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم

اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علٰـى سيّدنا محـمَّدٍ خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وعلى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمعـين

Distinguished Ministers, our friend UN Rep Ms. Shoko Noda, other distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me begin by expressing my profound appreciation to the team of United Nations development programme in Maldives. We just saw but I was thinking how many males are there. So I would like to thank your Excellency Shoko Noda UN resident representative and UNDP Maldives, Resident representative, for inviting me to attend this momentous ceremony as a chief guest to mark the 50th anniversary since the establishment of UNDP 38 years ago.

I’m truly honoured to be here today. I see people standing and watching and I think you should have more seats around. Today we are reminded of the invaluable role UNDP has played in the past, and continues to play in paving the road for a more human world. One that is inclusive and equitable, peaceful and prosperous and sustainable and resilient. UNDP has been a contributor to global development, and has provided long standing support in achieving social economic development goals around the world, including our beloved country Maldives. Congratulations, Shoko Noda and UNDP team for the 50 years of fruitful service around the globe. Once again congratulations.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I’m pleased to acknowledge that UNDP has had a remarkably efficient working relationship. Which I think UN rep has already mentioned in her presentation with the government since inception in the Maldives, over three decades ago. During the past 38 years of the agencies operation in the Maldives, UNDP has worked closely with the Government Ministries and Ministers and private partners to help realise a myriad of national plans in line with development aspirations of the Maldivian people.

A diverse range of technical consultancy and financial support was expanded to help eradicate poverty, protect the environment, improve livelihoods, build peaceful societies, as well as manage risk and cultivate resilience in the face of the most critical threats to the Maldives, such as climate change. Our Environment Minister is also in front of me. So I’m sure he agrees.

I commend UNDP, for the successful delivery of various development projects in the past, and for ensuring sustainability of the results achieved. For instance I think Minister will agree. UNDP’s support in helping to secure US dollar 23.6 million from the green climate fund to ensure the delivery of safe fresh water to outer islands in the Maldives is a prime example of the kind partnership that is needed from development partners for vulnerable countries like Maldives.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

The close partnership between the government of Maldives and the UNDP was thoroughly manifested in the process to achieve 5 out of the 8 to millennium development goals. Let me take again this opportunity to thank UNDP for the expertise and resources that were shared with the national stakeholders to achieve this feat as an active participant in bringing about the MDGs, in the capacities of previous posts within the Government. I’m confident to note that we have learned important lessons in our endeavours to reach the MDGs. Lessons that we could capitalize on to determine the trajectory of the countries development in the future.

There is a need to adopt bottom up policies that cater to the diverse needs of communities. There is a need to identify and abolish patterns of systemic discrimination. That defeats positive efforts to establish an inclusive society. The need is great to incorporate human rights, standards in national plans, and policies and broaden our appreciation of the notion that every individual matters. I think our Education Minister always talk about no one will be left behind for schooling. Our motto is no citizen will be left behind.

A community-based dialogic decision-making process needs to be adopted in policy planning and implementation. Involving communities’ especially young men and women, in participatory decision-making and development process is wider to achieving sustainable human development.

I’m sincerely hopeful that the newly adopted framework of sustainable development goals or STGs built upon the outcomes of MDGs would be conducive to creating more pragmatic global citizens far more empathetic for the human kind and the environment we live in. The Government is working in partnership with UNDP to further accelerate the momentum gained in achieving the MDGs to integrate STGs in national development plans and policies.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

In recent years Maldives has graduated from a least developed country to a middle income country as a small island development state with relatively limited economic resource base. This development has not come without novel and pressing challenges. We are well aware that the role of UNDP is no longer to bring in funding. I wish always can bring more funding but largely consists of providing impartial upstream policies. In this regard Government will be collaborating with UNDP. As per United Nations Development Framework (UNDAF) for the period 2016 to 2020, to gain the most from the comparative advantage, UNDP has in terms of valid and reliable knowledge as well reputable expertise which I’m sure no one will doubt.

The (UNDAF) 2016 to 2020 has identified youth and children, gender, governance, environment and climate change as the key areas of focus in the formulation and implementation of national plans and policies.

Youth and children are the generations of today and tomorrow respectively, that would take the country to new heights. I think I can see smiling from Gender Minister and Youth Minister. However, they are among the most vulnerable segments of the society. Hence affirmative policies are necessary to create more education and employment opportunities that would enable them to grow and thrive.

Women in Maldives consist nearly half of the population but not in the UN community in Maldives. They have a direct bearing on the socioeconomic status of the country. The cause for women’s empowerment in the Maldives although more progressive compared to a decade ago, still needs to gain more momentum. Gender equality is essential for Maldives to gain leverage with developed nations on the global scene. I think I’m sure UNDP representative will also think about this.

Attitudes and cultural norms, that reinforce gender at discrimination need to be immediately addressed through raising awareness, particularly in remote, isolated islands.

Maldives is still an emerging democracy. Democratic principles and values are still foreign to a good majority of the population. A robust understanding of which is crucial to consolidate the democratic transition in the years to come. Governance, both central and local needs to be participatory, rights-oriented, transparent, and accountable for our democracy. To mature and deliver its full benefits. I can see UNDP working on this front even from the presentations.

As a low-lying island nation Maldives is at risk and highly vulnerable to climate change and environment degradation. I hope Environment Minister can come and talk about this. We need to adopt lifestyles that take into account means to enhance energy security. Through shifting to renewable energy, resources and integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to policies and practices related to coastal development and land use.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The value of UNDP lies in its global experience, and knowledge of development issues its operational capacities to deliver effective and timely results and the arbitrary platform it provides to convene multiple stock holders around the most pressing developmental challenges facing the Maldives. The Maldives-UNDP partnership has had immense benefits to the country and its people. It is with a positive outlook that I anticipate working with UNDP to bring greater prosperity to the Maldives in the future.

I wish to express my gratitude once again for conferring on me this esteem opportunity to speak as guest speaker at this event. I think I will not take your time because there is a very beautiful cake in front of me. So on behalf of everyone gathered here I would like to thank UNDP Ms Shoko Noda and dedicated team here. I’m sure you will have more boys or more women working next time in UNDP. Thank you once again.

والسّلام عليكم ورحمـة اللّـه وبركاته


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