Acting Resident Coordinator Dr. Arvind Mathur, Cabinet Ministers, Excellencies, Colleagues,

Assalaam Alaikum, and a very good afternoon to you all,

I wish to thank the Acting UNRC for organizing this function to mark the 74th anniversary of the United Nations. While every anniversary is important, next year holds special significance. It will be 75 years since the founding of the United Nations. We will also be marking 55 years since the Maldives joined the UN. At the same time, the Government and the UN will be formulating a new Cooperation Framework that will remain the blueprint for development cooperation between the Maldives and the UN for the next several years.

I would, therefore, like to talk about where we plan to go from here, and how we can work more closely together, to achieve the targets we set ourselves as we embark upon this ambitious new developmental journey of the Maldives. The Government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was elected on the premise of hope and transformation. Revolutionizing the way in which we approached some of the pressing issues in our society. We sought to make our society more inclusive and transparent, and to deliver through on our pledges. Human rights, democracy, climate change, accountability and social justice became our mantra. Being responsive to the needs of the people, and the effective delivery of essential services our objective.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a major priority for the Maldives. I am pleased to note that the recently launched Strategic Action Plan of the Government fully integrates the SDGs into our national development agenda. While the core principle of the SDGs is to “Leave No One Behind”, let me assure you, that the Maldives is presently working to ensure that “No Island is Left Behind”. Just this week, the President signed in to law, the amendment to the Decentralization Act, which will provide financial stability and better access to resources to the Local Councils thereby making our discussions on development, fully inclusive.

With the ongoing reform of the United Nations development system to better support the SDGs, the Government is geared up for the next cycle of the UNDAF – the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. The new CF, as it’s now called, needs to be more inclusive and participatory, taking into account evidence-based planning and local knowledge in shaping its projects. The CF needs to reflect the realities on the ground, to foster greater civic engagement and be ambitious in its outlook. We need to make sure that lessons learnt from the ongoing UNDAF are adequately addressed in the upcoming CF, to ensure that our commitment is demonstrated not only through policy statements, but through implementation and achievable targets.

This year has also seen the first year of the implementation of the recent reforms in the UN Development System. It is up to us to collectively see through these reforms to its successful completion, so that the UN agencies here in the Maldives and country offices stationed outside, deliver as one. Gone are the days when different UN agencies function as separate entities or have different programmes and priorities. There is only one priority, and that is the Government’s development agenda, and we look forward to the UN Country Team, as one, to collaborate closely with us to realize these goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s been 55 years since we gained membership of the UN.  We believed in ourselves to strive for more, to overcome the many obstacles faced by LDCs, to invest in education and healthcare, and to care for future generations. From being one of the poorest countries in the world, to a middle-income country today, we could not have done so without our joint collaboration, without the support and the expertise from the UN Country Team, constantly at our side, guiding us to a better tomorrow.

In a way, the UN ideals of peace, security, human rights and climate change are at this point in time, central to Small Island Developing States. In a world where terrorism, violence and war know no boundaries, there is no doubt that the role of the UN has become more crucial now, especially when seen from a SIDS perspective. While environmental challenges are multiplying by the minute, and large-scale conflicts have the possibility of wiping out decades of hard-earned economic progress, we believe that the United Nations is the most relevant and efficient platform to address these contemporary issues. No country on its own is capable of preventing terrorism, violent extremism and climate change – it requires concerted action by all nations – to promote coexistence and tolerance and to undertake urgent measures to address the climate emergency. Our hope lies in the wide outreach and strength of the UN to bring the nations of the world together, to pursue global solutions to the global challenges we face today.

In concluding, let me express our profound thanks and appreciation to Dr. Arvind Mathur for his leadership of the UN Country Team during these past nine months

I have no doubt that the new Resident Coordinator, will find that this UN Country Team has been looked after well and in excellent health. Let me also thank all the members of the UN Country Team for the hard work and dedication you have demonstrated continuously, which we appreciate very much.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I wish you good health and a pleasant afternoon.

Thank you!