Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 February 2012
Excellencies; Distinguished guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am honoured and delighted to have been invited to address this Conference on Development Policy Options in Myanmar, with special reference to Education and Health.
On behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, I thank the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar for their role in organizing this event and for enabling my participation. I also thank UNDP Assistant Secretary-General and Chair of the UN Development Group for Asia-Pacific, Mr Ajay Chhibber, and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Mr Ashok Nigam, and his team, for bringing this conference to reality in coordination with Government and other partners.
I am particularly honoured to inaugurate this event in the company of His Excellency Dr. Sai Mauk Kham, Vice-President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and His Excellency U Soe Thein, Union Minister for Industry. Allow me also to acknowledge the presence of many distinguished participants, including Professors Joseph Stiglitz and Ronald Findlay of Columbia University.
Excellencies, Dear Friends,
This conference is very timely.
We meet almost exactly one year after the launch of broad-ranging reforms by the Government of Myanmar under the leadership of President Thein Sein. Your deliberations take place at the same time that Parliament – for the first time – is debating the national budget cycle.
And we gather roughly four months ahead of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, and less than four years from the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon set out an “action agenda” for his second term – a blueprint for progress on five global imperatives.
First: Sustainable development.
Second: Preventing conflicts and disasters, human rights abuses and development setbacks.
Third: Building a safer and more secure world.
Fourth: Supporting nations in transition.
And Fifth: Working with and for the world’s women and young people.
These are compelling, generational opportunities. And this conference can help us make the most of them, here in Myanmar and in the wider region and world.
This is a time of dramatic change, but also one of widespread economic uncertainty and social inequities. The world’s population has reached 7 billion. In just five years, we will add another half billion people – all needing food, jobs, security and opportunity.