Armen Grigoryan, Resident Representative, UNDP North Macedonia
When the Charter of the United Nations went into force on 24 October 1945, the world was reeling from the aftermath of the second World War – one of the greatest crisis humanity had to overcome in the 20th century. The nations of the world, brought together under the nascent United Nations, turned their focus to peacebuilding, recovery and development. On 24 October 2021 – United Nations Day, 76 years after the creation of the UN, we need only look back to see how far we have come and how much we have achieved through international cooperation on development.
However, progress is rarely linear and steady in pace, as the past two years have reminded us. COVID-19 revealed to us the fragility of many of the systems we took for granted, from the way we take care of the public’s health to the way we produce and transport goods around the world. Even as the world recovers from the pandemic, larger global challenges loom ahead. Rising inequality has limited the pace at which we can improve livelihoods and lift people out of poverty while eroding the public’s trust in the systems we expect to address such injustices. Climate change and the degradation of our natural environment due to human activity is perhaps the largest crisis humanity has had to face in the modern history of the world.
Yet in crisis there is opportunity – a chance to grow, to do things better. The world learned this lesson after the second World War and, in hopes of doing better, we created the United Nations.
We at the UNDP are emboldened by the fact that we can achieve great things when we work together. Even in times of crisis, we are committed to driving progress towards the Sustainable Development Agenda and remain the biggest contributor among UN agencies to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals. As we look back on our work in 2021, on what we have been able to achieve together with the people of North Macedonia, there is much that we can be proud of.
To support a green recovery, we leveraged our Climate Promise initiative and partnered with the Ministry of Environment and Special Planning to help the country increase its ambitions under the Paris Agreement, accelerating the transition towards a green economy that could add 8000 new jobs by 2030, at least 27 per cent of which could be filled by women.
We improved the accessibility of public services while also promoting greater accountability and transparency in governance by partnered with 36 municipalities, the Ministry of Local Self-governance and ZELS to deploy several innovative digital solutions for the public sector, made possible thanks to the support of our Swiss partners. Some of these solutions are currently in the running for most influential in Europe in terms of promoting transparent, participatory, inclusive and accountable governance.
By developing and launched the first natural voice speech synthesis app in the Macedonian language, together with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, we endeavored to foster a more inclusive society that respects the rights of persons with disabilities. The app will help some 3,000 blind or visually impaired persons as well as many others with reading impairment to access digital content in their native language.
To increase access to childcare for the 17,000 residents of one of its poorest and most underserved urban municipalities in the country, we rebuilt the only kindergarten in Shuto Orizari into one of the most modern, energy-efficient kindergartens in the country, thanks to Norwegian funding and our partnership with the municipality, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy.
The UNDP partnered with the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the National Employment Agency to improve the livelihoods of informal care workers and expand opportunities within the formal care economy by introducing new measures as part of the national plan for labor market activation that will extend training and employment opportunities in the care economy to unemployed persons and civil society organizations.
Finally, to ensure that development efforts are sustainable and strategic, the UNDP, as part of the UN family and thanks to the support of our British partners, is lending its support to the Government of North Macedonia in the drafting of North Macedonia’s new National Development Strategy, backed by an innovative methodology that puts system transformation at its forefront.
As North Macedonia faces the future, looking to overcome challenges foreseen and unforeseen, the UN and the UNDP will remain its steadfast partners in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and beyond. The challenges ahead are too enormous for any one country to face alone.
On this United Nations Day, remember that North Macedonia never stands alone.
Happy UN Day to all!