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Statement by H.E. Mr. Mohan Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN at the Executive Board of the UNDPA, UNFPA and UNOPS – Second Regular Session 2022

Thursday, 01 September 2022

Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services
Second Regular Session 2022
UNDP Segment
Item 3: Country Programme & Related Matters
01 September 2022

Madam Chair,

I thank Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director at the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific of the UNDP Madam Kanni Wignarajah for presenting the Country Programme Document for Sri Lanka for the term 2023-2027 notwithstanding the difficult economic environment. The crisis is referable to multiple compounding factors such an adventurous tax policy, money creation, a mistiming of a nationwide policy to shift to organic or biological farming, the 2019 Easter bombings, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka and finally exacerbated by the present crisis in Eastern Europe.

We appreciate the development concept of the UNDP which is a multidimensional undertaking to achieve a higher quality of life for all people. We also appreciate the fact that Economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development. Our approach to the SDG’s with the support of the UNDP serves as a common strategy with four strategic areas of focus: To work towards an improved data, knowledge management and evidence-based policy ; Strengthened, innovative public institutions and engagement towards a lasting peace ;  Human security and socio-economic resilience ; Enhancing resilience to climate change and disasters and strengthening environmental management. Sri Lanka is firmly committed to this partnership to ensure that we build back better. I am confident that we can exploit this crisis from the lessons we have learned to free ourselves from the present environment. Be assured we will do it.

I also wish to make this an opportunity to commend the work of the UNDP and Country Team in Sri Lanka; a relationship structured on solid understanding since 1967. It is common ground that the UNDP country program is anchored in the government program, the sustainable development goals supported by the UNDP strategic country plan. It is believed that the program will bring significant added value in high-level upstream policy support; that Investment will strengthen the capacities of national actors, systems and institutions through targeted policy interventions and translation of the goals –at the national level, and that it will accelerate sustained growth and safeguard development gains.

Madam Chair,

This Country Program Document, mandating for the next five years, is presented at a crucial time for Sri Lanka, in economic, social and political aspects. Therefore, as I have observed earlier, our expectation is that the CPD would be a beacon that will help lead us to economic recovery; a guiding compass for meaningful collaboration between the Government of Sri Lanka and the UNDP. We must also take note of the consultations UNDP has had with various local authorities in the preparatory process is ensuring closer corporation and support to this country program.

It must be appreciated that consolidating Sri Lanka’s progress to date towards the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and ensuring such progress isn’t derailed, whilst strengthening ownership and implementation mechanisms, is the foremost priority for all stakeholders.

While Sri Lanka ranked 87th of 165 nations in the SDG Index 2021, challenges to achieving the 2030 Agenda remain. Reforming the Sri Lankan economy whilst minimizing adverse effects on vulnerable groups is key to achieving macroeconomic stability and overcoming the current economic crisis. Support for structural and innovative reforms in the public sector, will play a crucial role. Owing to limited fiscal space, multilateral and bilateral partnerships, as well as south-south cooperation, can play an important role in addressing these challenges.

We are also pleased on the consultations UNDP Country Team had with various local agencies in developing this Document, as well as the continuous engagement of the UNDP Office in New York with our Mission, especially the reach out by ASG Wignaraja.

The Government of Sri Lanka takes note with appreciation that the CPD aims the outcomes in three priority areas in Sri Lanka: social inclusion & macroeconomic stability; green development & inclusive governance and justice; and peace & social cohesion.

Madam Chair,

I wish to reiterate that, the Government of Sri Lanka is ready to further collaborate with the UNDP to achieve our mutual goal of development in the country.

I thank you