- Category: Other Presidential Statement
- Published on 23 May 2012
H.E Mr. Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of Delegation of the Lao PDR, at the Ministerial Segment of the 68th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, 22rd May 2012.
On behalf of the delegation of the Lao PDR, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairperson on your election as Chairperson of the UNESCAP 68th session. May I also express my sincere thanks to the Government and people of Thailand for hosting this year’s session under the theme, “Enhancing Regional Economic Integration in Asia and the Pacific: Towards a Comprehensive Framework”
This 68th session of UNESCAP is taking place at a time when the Asia and Pacific economy continues to encounter the effects of the Eurozone economic crisis. The continued fluctuation of food and fuel prices combined with natural disasters such as floods, typhoons, earthquakes and tsunami, pandemic diseases, among others, continue to threaten the lives of people in our region.
Despite the fact that the region has made a good progress toward attaining the MDGs, many indicators are showing that some countries are still off-track on many MDG targets, especially the most vulnerable ones, the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. As enshrined in the Istanbul and Almaty Programs of Action, the special needs of the world’s most vulnerable groups of countries must be given a special priority as the challenges and constraints faced by them would hardly be overcome without increased support and cooperation from the international community. Although, there has been global effort to address the needs and constraints of these vulnerable countries through the implementation of various international measures, the progress of implementation of the said international programs of actions has been slow.
Taking into account, their inadequate socio-economic infrastructure, these countries are often susceptible to the external shock combined with their limited productive and export capacity. This has barred their ability to mobilize sufficient resources to meet their development need. The LDCs in particular, would be able to overcome these constraints and challenges only if the newly Istanbul Program of Action on LDCs for the period from 2011-2020 is fully and effectively implemented, thus helping the LDCs achieve their 2020 objectives.
This year, it is a great honor for the Lao PDR, for being entrusted to chair this vulnerable Group of LLDCs. Being both an LDC and landlocked, the Lao PDR is at a critical stage and remains vulnerable to external shock. To this end, the current 7th five-year plan for 2011-2015 continues to aim at accelerating growth, ensuring a harmonized economic, social and cultural development and further promoting regional and sub-regional connectivity through accelerating the process of integration into the regional and global economic system namely ASEAN Economic Community and WTO. The country also aims to transform itself from a landlocked to land-linked nation by enhancing integration and connectivity within the GMS and other regional mainstreams. Towards this end, the Lao government has invested on the infrastructure especially roads and railway that link the country with the Asian Highway Network and through the implementation of various bilateral agreements with neighboring countries to facilitate trade and investment with countries in the region.
To achieve the ultimate goal of graduating from LDC status by 2020, in its 7th five-year plan for 2011-2015, the Lao PDR has set out the following specific targets:
- 1. Strive to maintain the level of economic growth at least at 8% per annum, create enabling environment for mobilizing development resources and ensure a growth with equity.
- 2. Continue to improve and build development capacity as well as attain MDGs, particularly build rural infrastructure and create job in the poverty stricken, rural and remote areas with a view to narrowing down the gap between the rich and the poor.
- 3. Focus on social development with environment protection, especially in education, health care, agriculture through the promotion of food security and nutrition with an objective to reducing child and maternal mortality and child malnutrition, which is one of the impediments for achieving MDGs by 2015.
- 4. Enhance cooperation at both regional and international to exchange best practice and lessons learned and to mobilize international resource thus ensuring the attainment of MDGs.
Nonetheless, there are some challenges, which the Lao PDR must overcome:
- 1. Human resource capacity has not yet met development needs. The problem of malnutrition persists, maternal and child mortality remains high compared with countries in the region.
- 2. Resource limitation.
- 3. Inadequate infrastructure, limited access to education and health services especially in the rural and remote areas.
We do recognize that these constraints need to be addressed primarily by the Government itself. Nevertheless, it requires continued support and cooperation at regional and international level, if we are to meet all our MDGs by 2015 and graduating from LDC status by 2020. On this note, the Lao PDR reaffirms its full commitment to working closely with all countries in the Asia and the Pacific Region and international organizations to ensure that the goals and objectives outlined in the Istanbul Program of Action are fully realized.
Twenty years have passed since the 1992 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development. However, the world is now facing more serious problems caused by climate change, biodiversity and environmental loss and increased stress on the earth’s depleting natural resources. Therefore, in the up-coming RIO+20, it is our hope to see that all stakeholders commit ourselves to become more responsible for the sustainable use and consumption of natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emission and mainstream sustainable development into all aspects of economic development including sharing cleaner and better technology for development.
Since the 1992 Earth Summit, the Lao Government has formulated a policy and institutional framework for sustainable development. Some of our key priorities are to carefully manage natural resources and protect environment through the implementation of policy framework in view of combating poverty, promoting healthy environment, conservation of biological diversity and proper management of the use of natural resources. To this end, the Lao Government has recently set-up Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment as a mechanism to oversee the management of natural resources including land, water, and forest.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my gratitude to you and wish our deliberation a great success.