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EXECUTIVE BOARD OF UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS

ANNUAL SESSION 2021

7 - 11 June 2021, New York

 

Interactive Dialogue with UNDP Administrator on UNDP Annual Report and Cumulative Review of the Strategic Plan 2018-2021

 

Remarks by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations

 

8 June 2021

 

Thank you Madam Chair, and thank you Administrator Steiner, for your briefing which was informative and thought provoking. I would like to convey again our felicitations to you on being appointed for a second term at the helm of UNDP. We wish you and your team the very best and reassure you of India’s continued support.

 

2. The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited a unique health and development emergency for our generation.  The loss of human lives has been compounded by the socio-economic hardship unleashed by the pandemic. Recovery, Resilience and Reform is the need of the hour.

 

3. The UNDP has done commendably in this time of crisis, deploying nearly USD 1 billion to over 170 countries through two COVID-19 offers and associated rapid financing mechanisms focusing on the immediate COVID-19 response requirements. This approach has enabled a fast, scaled and largely coherent response from UNDP to the pandemic, as part of the overall UN system response.

 

4. We note that while repurposing regular and other resources has enabled UNDP Country Offices to take swift action, progress on some original plans that were part of the current strategic plan – including on disaster risk reduction, national development planning and economic growth – have had to be postponed or adjusted as Government priorities shifted towards crisis mitigation.

 

5. At this juncture, I would like to underline the following:

 

  • COVID is putting pressure on resources meant for fueling economic growth, towards meeting immediate humanitarian needs.

 

  • As we move towards the phase of recovery, we must not lose sight of the SDGs. For India, and indeed most of the developing world, there cannot be any compromise on the ambition of the Agenda 2030 and its fulfillment.

 

  • While meeting immediate humanitarian responses is indeed essential, we need to keep an eye on the broader goal of speedy implementation of the Country programs. Developing countries look up to UNDP with immense hope and aspirations to make sure that our common development objectives are fulfilled.

 

6. Excellencies, as we look ahead to the next Strategic Plan of the UNDP, it is important to take into account the lessons learnt from the response of the UNDP and larger UN Development system over the past year.

 

7. I would like to highlight two specific elements here, which we hope will find adequate reflection in the Strategic Plan.

 

8. One, the pandemic has highlighted the key role of digital technology in coping with disruption. Technology and digital people-centric solutions should become a critical component of our development paradigm. UNDP is indeed embracing such digital technologies, and we appreciate this.

 

9. Prioritizing the needs of the poor and vulnerable will have to receive the highest priority with respect to digital initiatives. In recent years, India has undertaken transformative development and people-friendly programmes fully integrated through digital technology.

 

10. Second, there has been a disproportionate impact on countries in special situations – the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDs.  SIDS have in fact been among the worst hit developing economies in economic and fiscal terms, largely due to global contraction in coastal tourism and fisheries. Fragile health systems, lack of domestic financial resources, slow down in global trade and unsustainably high debt levels all present further urgent challenges.

 

11. The next UNDP Strategic Framework must foster a recovery that addresses these critical structural challenges, by enhancing the resilience and sustainability of existing key economic sectors, building capacity and skill, and fostering economic diversification aligned with national priorities.

 

12. Finally, I would like to take a moment to convey our deep appreciation for UNDP’s work in India, including at this critical time. UNDP has been an important partner in our Government’s COVID-19 response in three key areas: (i) supporting health systems; (ii) addressing social and economic impacts; (iii) supporting multisectoral coordination and inclusive responses, including support for developing digital platforms for vaccine rollout.

 

I wish you the fruitful deliberations during the annual session of the Executive Board. Thank you.

 

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