UNESCO delivers the Lao PDR UN Country Team’s Statement on Lao PDR’s human capital development progress at 2022 Round Table Implementation Meeting
Vientiane, Lao PDR (26 January 2023) — On the occasion of the 2022 Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM), hosted by the Government of Lao PDR at the nation’s National Convention Centre on 26 January 2023, Mr Aoyagi Shigeru, Director of the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) delivered a joint statement on behalf of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Lao PDR on Human Capital development.
The 2022 RTIM was organized around the theme, ‘Accelerating the implementation of the 9th NSEDP (achievements of 2022 and plans for 2023), SDGs, and achieving LDC graduation.’ Opened and chaired by H.E. Mr Khamjane Vongphosy, Minister, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and co-chaired by Ms Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, the meeting focused on five critical, mutually informing topics:
- Implementation of the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) in 2022 and plans for 2023;
- Financing Strategy to support the implementation of the 9th Five-Year National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP; 2021–2025);
- Lao PDR Resilience Framework (2022–2025);
- Shaping of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Smooth Transition Strategy; and
- Review of an effective Development Cooperation in view of the Vientiane Declaration Country Action Plan 2016–2025 and Sector Working Groups review.
In his remarks on behalf of the UN Country Team, Mr Aoyagi Shigeru reflected on the past year’s achievements towards implementing the 9th NSEDP, stressing that to continue the recovery from recent challenges, all stakeholders need to reflect on how to re-invent and re-imagine a development model that is more people-centred, inclusive and sustainable. He reiterated the importance of effectively harnessing human capital in delivering on the NSEDP vision, ‘Quality development is a transformation.’
Mr Aoyagi noted that education remains a unique and powerful instrument in transforming societies, reducing poverty, and improving health, gender equality, peace and social stability. He further iterated that continued progress towards Universal Health Coverage is critical, as well as that the transition of Lao PDR towards a Knowledge Society and Green Economy requires the country to invest more attention and resources to scientific research and the practical application throughout Lao society of advances in science, technology and innovation. In addition, scientific knowledge and cultural heritage should be integrated into society as particularly strong drivers for economic and social development.
The UN Country Team’s statement also highlighted supporting youth as critically important drivers for sustainable development, and he noted that in order to benefit from Lao PDR’s vibrant young population, all stakeholders need to offer the next two generations the right opportunities, spaces for participation, and decent jobs, as well as nutritious food and a healthful environment.
Similarly, Mr Aoyagi shared the importance the UN Country Team gives to strengthening stakeholders’ collective efforts to achieve gender equality and reduce intersectional vulnerability in Laos. As in many parts of the world, certain social norms and practices in Lao PDR continue to hold back many girls and women from equal development, thus infringing on their rights and potential opportunities to thrive and fully participate in civic life.
The 2022 RTIM brought together nearly 250 participants – among them counterparts from central and 17 provincial Planning and Investment Departments; Vice-Ministers of line ministries; representatives of the National Assembly; development partners; non-governmental organizations; and the private sector through the online and in-person discussions on achieving effective development cooperation in support of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and successful graduation from the Least Developed Country category.
Background: The Round Table Process
The Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM) Process in Lao PDR is the key national framework to bring together government, development partners, civil society, and the private sector to work together more effectively. RTIMs are annually convened to take stock of progress made over the past year, and to set joint priorities for the coming months. RTIMs provide an inclusive forum to support the design and implementation of the country’s national development plans. The 10 Sector Working Groups are the key coordination platforms for each thematic area of development in Lao PDR’s Round Table Process. They are led by the Lao PDR Government and include development partners, civil society organizations, and representatives from the private sector. The various groups serve as discussion forums, and aim to build consensus on development priorities, and make development cooperation more effective, as set out in the Vientiane Declaration of 2015.
At this year’s RTIM, Ms Sara Sekkenes noted, ‘Now more than ever, given the many challenges that we face, Lao PDR’s development partners need to find ways to work together more effectively to support a sustainable and inclusive development path. The Roundtable Process offers us an invaluable platform to help achieve this, and with the substantive discussions that have taken place on financing for development, recovery and resilience, and preparations for LDC graduation, has shown the value of this as a forum for coordination and exchange.’
Following the 2022 RTIM, the Lao PDR Ministry of Planning and Investment, together with heads of development partners, will present the outcome of the 2022 RTIM to the Prime Minister of Lao PDR for further guidance on the effective implementation of the 9th NSEDP and the UN 2030 Agenda.
For more information: Gregory Galligan, Public Information and Outreach, UNESCO Bangkok, firstname.lastname@example.org