Remarks by UN Resident Coordinator Louisa Vinton, UN Day 2018

Oct 29, 2018

Dear Mr. Prime Minister

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister

Dear Ministers and other representatives of the Government

Excellencies

Members of Parliament

Dear Mayors

Dear colleagues from the UN family

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Above all, dear friends

 

Thank you all for joining us to celebrate UN Day! 

And big thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for generously serving as our host for another year.

The year since we last gathered here has been a remarkable one.

The Government’s reform program has opened up new opportunities for the UN team to promote sustainable development and to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

We just completed our annual stocktaking with our Government counterparts, and agreed that together we’ve registered some significant results.

To cite a just few examples:

·         We’ve helped long-term unemployed people to create more than 2,000 new small businesses – that’s upwards of 12 percent of the new private-sector jobs created in the country each year;

·         We’ve partnered with 57 municipalities to offer part-time work to more than 1,500 people – 85 percent of them women – to provide care services to vulnerable members of the community;

·         As part of this effort, we’ve trained and placed 450 personal and educational assistants (again, almost all of them women) to enable children with disabilities to attend mainstream schools;

·         We’ve engaged energetically “de-institutionalization,” to ensure that children and adults with disabilities enjoy their right to live in the community, including standing our ground in Timjanik;

·         We’ve cleaned, repaired and rebuilt hundreds of kilometers of flood-prevention infrastructure;

·         We’ve restored the wetlands of Prespa Lake, and we’re now looking to return the Sateska River to its original course in order to protect Ohrid Lake from huge volumes of sediment pollution;

·         Just last week we’ve completed the country’s first-ever EU-standard landfill in Gevgelija, after a two-year struggle to complete all the required paperwork and secure all the necessary permits;

·         And, following the landmark ratification in December 2017 of the Istanbul Convention, we’ve established the country’s first three sexual assault centers in Kumanovo, Skopje and Tetovo.

Our achievements include a number of important “firsts” for the country.

We are proud that, in cases like these, where something has never been done before, the UN team has been able to show by doing that new departures are possible and higher standards can be met.

But we cannot take sole credit for any of these achievements.

Everything we manage to do here depends heavily on strong partnerships with Government, civil society, academic and the private sector … and of course on the generosity of our many donors.

So on behalf of the UN team, let me express deep gratitude for your support and good cooperation.

We look ahead to an ambitious agenda, which we agreed today with our Government partners.

And we are delighted to be able to commit at least 25 million dollars per year to development spending, along with the full dedication of the 171 staff who make up the UN team in the country.

That said, we need to be humble.

Our efforts can address only a fraction of the challenges the country faces, whether in creating good jobs, building strong institutions, protecting the environment or ensuring equal rights for all people.

This is why our message for today is that the Sustainable Development Goals aren’t a matter just for the Government or for the UN agencies.

None of the goals can be achieved without everyone pitching in to help.

Everyone has something to contribute.

That’s why our UN Day this year marks the launch of a new Instagram platform called “#IJasImamCel.“

The idea here is to provide a common space for institutions, organizations and citizens to showcase what they are doing to advance the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

We hope you will use this platform to share photo evidence of your own personal SDG campaign.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Dear Mr. Dimitrov, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to conclude today on a personal note.

After five years, I will be leaving the country on Thursday to take up a new assignment, in Georgia.

These years have been challenging, but also immensely rewarding and full of good friendships.

I have been in denial for many months, but now it is time to pack my bags and hold back my tears.

I am pleased that the outlook as I leave is much more hopeful than that when I arrived.

A lot of that is due to the Prespa Agreement.

It makes us proud that the United Nations, though the good offices of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Matthew Nimetz, played a facilitating role – over 24 years – in the effort to solve the name issue.

In his statement for UN Day, our Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, wrote that, “despite the odds and the obstacles,” the women and men of the United Nations “never give up.”

It’s hard to think of a person that fits this description better than Mr. Nimetz.

We see similar determination in yourself, Mr. Prime Minister, in your foreign minister, and in your team.

After so many setbacks and so much turmoil, let’s hope it’s the country’s time to shine.

We count on your unshakeable resolve to ensure that, as you lead the country forward, you stand firmly by the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals and we actually do “leave no one behind.”

Thank you for five years of wonderful memories, and all the best for UN Day!

Thank you // Vi blagodaram // Faleminderit

 

 


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