Bakhodir Burkhanov: Japan–UNDP “Exchange of Notes” Signing Ceremony

Mar 5, 2018

Hon. Speaker of the Parliament, Dr. Jiko Luveni

Hon. Members of Parliament

Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Tsuguyoshi Hada

Secretary-General and staff of the Fiji Parliament

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good afternoon, Bula Vinaka, Namaste and Assalamu Aleykum!

It is a great privilege to once again be in these august premises, the heart of Fiji’s democracy. Today’s occasion is to celebrate the strengthening of our partnership with the Government of Japan.

Japan has been a key supporter of UNDP’s governance work in the Pacific countries – and in Fiji particularly – having supported the first phase of the Fiji Parliament Support Project, and currently supporting the REACH project that helps provide access to government services for many Fijians across this country.

This strengthened collaboration comes at a moment when Parliaments and Legislatures in the Pacific and globally have started acting on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which is also at the very core of UNDP’s action worldwide.

UNDP recognizes the central role played by Parliaments in advancing inclusive governance systems and processes. The functioning of Parliament, and its capacity to undertake in full the mandate of legislation, oversight of the executive, and people’s representation, has a direct impact on the State’s capacity to deliver sound public policies and services, benefitting all citizens.

Over the past years, the progress of parliamentary development work in the Pacific has been remarkable, with over 30 capacity building activities implemented by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji with partner Parliaments in 2017 alone. In fact, we are proud to say that we support every single Pacific Island Country (PIC) Parliament.

Today’s agreement with the Government of Japan will allow us to substantially scale up the support to six Pacific Parliaments, namely Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

This provides a welcome opportunity to work on exchanges of good practices between Parliaments in the Pacific. A key ethos of UNDP is to promote development through cooperation and knowledge-sharing between countries. We call it “south-south cooperation” and this approach lies at the very heart of this project. Indeed, Parliaments have been helping each other in different ways. I am due to travel to Tonga tomorrow where, as you know, Cyclone Gita has recently destroyed the Parliament chambers. In a gesture of solidarity and support, the Fiji Parliament lent Tongan counterparts its portable conference unit for the main chambers, and released IT and sound technicians to help set up the Chamber and Hansard rooms at the interim Parliament venue.

The fact that we are signing this agreement today at Fiji Parliament, honoured by your presence, Madam Speaker, is particularly symbolic to our partnerships in the region. A completely new institution 4 years ago, Fiji Parliament has come a long way through constant development over the years. It has become a genuine source of expertise and knowledge in the Pacific – and this is precisely what this new partnership with Japan aims to promote across the region.

In closing, let me emphasize our sincere gratitude for the confidence the Government of Japan has placed in UNDP through this new initiative. Building on the success of our past and ongoing partnership in Fiji and with support from other partners, we look forward to working together over the next three years for the benefit of Pacific Islanders across our region.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad and Shukriya!

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