|At the Thematic Debate on“Recognising the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015” New York|
|Wednesday, 02 April 2008 00:00|
Statement by H.E. Prasad Kariyawasam, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations at the Thematic Debate on“Recognising the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015” New York
Let me join others in expressing my appreciation to you for convening this meeting.
We now stand just past the half way mark we set for ourselves at the dawn of the new Millennium, to achieve goals that would provide sustainable prosperity to all who inhabit our planet, and for generations yet unborn. This, Mr. President, is therefore the most opportune moment to have this thematic debate in the General Assembly, to remind ourselves of the urgent need to harness the energies of all segments of our societies to work in synergy, to realize those goals.
In this respect, Sri Lanka aligns itself fully with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of G77 and China.
I will also take this opportunity to reiterate Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The MDGs have been integrated into Sri Lanka’s national development strategies including the ten year development framework titled “Mahinda Chintana ten year horizon development framework (2007-2016)”.
In areas such as universal primary school enrolment, gender equality in primary and secondary school enrolment, reducing maternal and child mortality, and several other health and social indicators, Sri Lanka is well poised to meet the MDG targets well before 2015. In recognition of these accomplishments, the UN country team, in its Common Country Assessment states that Sri Lanka needs to reset some of the MDG targets at higher levels.
Despite these achievements, and having recently made the transition from a low income to a middle income country, Sri Lanka still faces significant challenges. Eradicating poverty; achieving environmentally sustainable development; reducing unemployment; and mitigating social costs arising out of migration of labour and brain drain, are some such issues.
In addition, we consider that achieving MDGs in a sustainable manner is inextricably linked to overcoming regional disparities in economic and social development, including uneven distribution of wealth across regions and among social groups. The destruction caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004 was a setback to our progress towards achievement of MDGs. The campaign of terror by a separatist terrorist group in my country is also a major challenge to our general economic and social wellbeing. As a result of terrorism, several conflict affected regions have been lagging behind in economic development. And service sectors like tourism throughout the country have also suffered.
It is in this context that the Government is making every effort and working with Sri Lanka’s development partners including the UN system as well, to build national capacities to address some of the key challenges that militate against achieving the MDGs. This includes the full integration of MDGs into national policies and plans and localizing them in a manner that reduces regional disparities and empowers the regions. Concerted action is being taken to promote equity and inclusion, and to implement pro-poor policies favouring local aspirations and indigenous methods, as well as local entrepreneurship. While combating terrorism, the Government has taken several steps to ensure just and lasting peace in the North and East of the country through socio-political means.
To achieve the MDGs by 2015, Sri Lanka, like many other developing countries, needs better trading terms and market access for its products and services in our export markets. In addition, greater coherence and predictability in global financial and commodity markets are also important for developing countries like Sri Lanka to reach MDG targets.
The MDGs are global cross-cutting goals that require cooperative efforts of governments, international organizations, private sector, academia, and civil society around the world. And in this task, it is essential that developing countries and their development partners, working in partnership, re-commit to fulfil their obligations and responsibilities as set out in the Millennium Declaration. Let us pledge, once again, at this mid-point, that we will make all efforts to make this planet a congenial place for all to live, by the year 2015.