United Nations' 68th anniversary: Speech
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
The United Nations Country Team,
Dear Friends of the UN,
I am really pleased to convey my greetings to this important event the 68th anniversary of the birth of the United Nations. As UNDP`s global Goodwill Ambassador, it is a privilege to visit countries around the world, to engage on development issues and the progress that countries like Zambia are making. It is such a pleasure for me to be here in Zambia this week and to be a part of this UN Day celebration!
The United Nations, Norway and Zambia have enjoyed cordial relations since Zambia`s independence in 1964.
From the beginning Norway provided political and economic support to Zambia as a frontline state in the struggle against apartheid, minority rule and colonialism in neighbouring countries.
Still today Zambia is among the main partners of Norway`s development program, and we would also like to contribute in Zambias efforts to collect more and correct taxes from its mineral wealth. Both Zambia and Norway are also looking beyond aid to economic trade and investments, especially in hydropower and clean energy.
Norway continues to be a strong and proud supporter of the United Nations, both globally and here in Zambia.
Since this is the UN`s birthday party; I have to talk a little bit about the MDG`s.
The millennium Development Goals are our collective promise to the world`s most vulnerable on some of the world`s most difficult development challenges.
We are fast approaching the MDG deadline of 2015, and we need bolder policies, bigger partnerships and resources to ensure an accelerated progress to meet the goals.
And that`s not the end of it they must shape the `Future We Want`beyond 2015.
Thanks to initiatives like the Future We Want, we are more engaged than ever before in a more inclusive conversation, where the creativity and energies from communities across the world have been heard and felt clearly. We must all ask, what kind of a world do we want for our children, for ourselves and for the world community? And if it is to be a safer, more just and sustainable one, then we cannot delegate that to a future generation.
We have to seize the moment and make the changes needed, today.
So I am very much delighted to know that young Zambians have been proactively part of this process of defining the World We Want beyond 2015. Development is about people, it is about expanding opportunities and choices. It does not surprise met hat Zambia like many other African nations has had robust economic growth in the past few years.
I am also happy to learn that the country has witnessed significant progress towards achieving some of its MDG targets, with 94% of children both boys and girls going to primary school. I hope we dont stop there, butt hat Zambia pushes ahead to ensure these children complete school and go on to receive a high quality secondary education.
Over 90% of one-year-olds immunized against measles and close to 80% of the population with advanced HIV infection having access to antiretroviral medicines (ARVs), and the age-old killers like malaria and tuberculosis being addressed head-on.
This morning, I visited the Health Centre and District Hospital in Chongwe, together with the First Lady, Dr Christine Kaseba. We met and talked with the medical staff and the patients receiving MCH (mean cell hemoglobin), antiretrovilar therapy (ART) and tuberculosis care services. One can indeed see the efforts being made to invest in public health services and to improve drugs, testing and counseling and laboratory services so more people can access and benefit from these facilities. This saves lives!
And I am very happy to see the role that UNDP plays in partnership with you to make this happen.
In my conversations with the senior leadership of the country this afternoon, including the Vice President and a number of ministers, it was clear that they are focused on how to ensure that the impressive economic gains Zambia has made, translates into greater benefits for those more vulnerable who are still out of reach. Whether it is for the Zambians still living in extreme poverty;
For the two-third of children dropping out before completing the secondary education;
for the young mothers at risk of dying at child birth,
or for the young people in search of jobs-
it is indeed about putting this country`s wealth to work for them.
The United Nations has, and will continue to have, an important role in addressing the pressing and complex issues of development with high priority given to better governance, a respect for human rights, and strong and resilient institutions at all levels both globally and locally.
I really look forward to learning and seeing more of this beautiful country and as I head South, I will be meeting with farmers who have made bold strides to adapt to climate change, with students who are asking for a quality education and those engaged in reforestation and protecting the environment. As a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, it is a privilege to visit your country, to celebrate the UN`s 68th anniversary with you, and to understand better what UNDP and the UN as a whole does here, Delivering as one, to contribute with relevance and impact as this country takes great strides forward.
My warm congratulations to the United Nations team in Zambia and my deep appreciation to all of you who are such a key part of this work and this organization!