The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Stakeholder Engagement Seminar with UN Agencies and Development Partners Opening Remarks

Tuesday 13 October (8:30- 12:00)

International Cooperation and Training Centre

Opening Remarks, UN Resident Coordinator


Excellency Mr. Thongphane Savanphet, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Distinguished Ambassadors and development partner representatives

Esteemed Government partners,

Colleagues, Ladies & Gentlemen,


  • On behalf of the UN in Lao PDR, it is a pleasure for me to echo H.E., Vice Minister Thongphane in welcoming you to this stakeholder engagement seminar.
  • This is by no means a typical year. One need only look at the news on any given day to see how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause unprecedented damage to lives and livelihoods around the world.
  • There have now been over 1 million fatalities[1], and an estimated 176 million pushed into poverty by the pandemic.[2] We know that COVID-19 has further exposed and deepened existing inequalities and made achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, for which the world was already off-track, even more difficult.
  • But the pandemic also makes it clear how important the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is.
  • The core messages of the Agenda - on sustainability, shared prosperity, and working together to make sure that we leave no one behind - gives us the strongest foundation from which to confront challenges such as the pandemic.
  • And looking ahead, as noted by the UN Secretary-General, “in this time of great uncertainty, the SDGs show the way forward to a strong recovery from COVID-19 and a better future for all on a safe and healthy planet”.[3]
  • At the global level, we have already appealed for a Decade of Action leading us to 2030. This calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest challenges - on poverty, on climate change, on inequality, and to close the gap in the financing necessary to make this happen.
  • So, I am particularly heartened to see the measures put in place in Lao PDR to pursue the 2030 Agenda and integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into national plans and priorities.
  • This is the year when development priorities for the coming half-decade will be set out through the drafting of the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan.
  • The five years covered by the 9th NSEDP will be critical if we are to succeed in mounting a sufficient response to the long-term consequences of COVID-19 and finding ways to accelerate progress in spite of it.
  • To that end, as we will hear from the coming presentations, Lao PDR is committed to fully integrating the SDGs into the 9th NSEDP.
  • Crucially, the spirit of the aspirations in the 2030 Agenda will not simply be captured in the high-level ambitions of the national development plan. More indicators than ever to measure progress toward achieving those aspirations will be built into the core monitoring and evaluation framework. As a result, we will be better equipped to track outcomes, and efficiently target efforts on the areas that need them the most.
  • Looking ahead – in 2021 Lao PDR is likely to see a step closer to graduation from the Least Developed Country status. The next triennial review will take place in February, and if, as is likely, the necessary criteria are met then a transition process could be triggered towards full graduation.
  • 2021 will also see Lao PDR present its second Voluntary National Review to the High-Level Political Forum in July.
  • This will be a valuable opportunity to share the successes in taking forward the sustainable development agenda and realising its development aspirations. There is much to be proud of, and many good lessons that Lao PDR can share with member states.
  • Moreover, the VNR is also an opportunity to also highlight the challenges encountered, and engage and consult with international partners in finding the solutions and support to overcome these challenges.
  • We are at a critical moment for the achievement of the SDGs. There are major hurdles in our way, structures and priorities that must be put in place, and transitions that require careful management.
  • But in this moment, there is also opportunity. The story of how the coming years will play out has not yet been written. We can make choices now that will set us on course to a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future as we move into the months and years ahead.
  • By the time of the High-Level Political Forum, we will have a new NSEDP in place, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, and we will know the outcome of the LDC review.
  • By situating the VNR in these core national processes, we can make it more than a review of progress. Rather, we can use the stage provided to drive forward the development agenda, mobilize support, and seek solutions to challenges.
  • One absolutely critical ingredient to realising the SDGs is finding ways to harmonize our efforts from across society behind a shared vision. Our discussion today will be one further step towards achieving that.
  • This event follows similar gatherings organized over the past months to engage with civil society, the private sector, and with SDG focal points from across Government.
  • This is the coalition of support that will be needed to deliver the 2030 promise, and I take this opportunity to call on us all again to recommit, making the Global Goals our own.
  • On behalf of the UN, I commend the Government, and in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for their continued commitment to the SDGs, and to continuing our strong partnership.
  • Thank you very much.


[1] WHO, Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19, 9 October 2020: 1,056,186 confirmed deaths

[2] World Bank, Brief: Projected poverty impacts of COVID-19; based on $3.20 poverty line for lower middle-income countries-…

[3] Press release- “UN urges bold action for world to recover from COVID-19 and build a better future for all”

Speech by
Ms. Sara Sekkenes
Resident Coordinator
Ms. Sara Sekkenes_Photo
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office