Suva, Fiji / Nuku’alofa, Tonga – The UN Development Programme and the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga held their first Annual Programme Review (APR) meeting yesterday afternoon. Ms. Manakovi Pahulu, Tonga’s CEO for Justice, co-chaired the virtual meeting with Mr. Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. Several senior government representatives in Nuku’alofa and the management team at the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva also participated in the high-level dialogue.
The meeting provided an opportunity for key decision-makers to review the achievements of 2020, receive updates on progress this year to date, and identify new opportunities for collaboration.
With a joint programme that includes projects on resilience-building, environmental conservation, disaster response, effective governance, and inclusive economic growth, the UNDP-Tonga partnership aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of Tonga, in line with the aims of the Second Tonga National Strategic Development Framework, with its vision of “A more progressive Tonga supporting a higher quality of life for all”.
The meeting heard about the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented to the joint development work that was planned for 2020. UNDP and the Government of Tonga were fortunately able to successfully adapt their work plans to ensure continuity and deliver results for the Tongan people.
Mr. Bouadze said, “With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are at perhaps at the most difficult phase in our history. COVID-19 has created many development challenges and has also challenged our delivery model. Our communication and partnership is more crucial at this time than ever. That is why we decided to have a strategic meeting to exchange views on programmatic work and ensure we remain true to Tonga’s development priorities”.
Ms. Pahulu confirmed Tonga’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She expressed Tonga’s sincere gratitude for UNDP’s support and told the meeting that Tonga’s partnership with UNDP was certainly strengthened by the shared challenges of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our presence today is testament to the will of the Tongan government to seek effective partnership with people like yourselves in order to meet our development goals. As you know, our resources are limited. We have therefore embarked upon various undertakings in partnership, and thank you very much for all the assistance you have given us,” stated Ms. Pahulu.
UNDP presented some key results of the joint development programme and detailed other areas in which UNDP has capacity and resources. The Government of Tonga presented their national development priorities, including people-focused priorities such as health, security, and education, economic recovery, and economic resilience, encompassing infrastructure, public service reform, and resilience-building.
The partners discussed how their joint work addresses many of Tonga’s development priorities. They also identified many new areas in which they might collaborate in support of the SDGs, Tonga’s adaptation to COVID-19 conditions, and recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.
UNDP and Tonga considered many ongoing resilience-building activities, including those being implemented under the UNDP Climate Promise, which is a global project to support countries that wish to upscale their ambitions in terms of Nationally Determined Contributions. Assistance in the area of governance, including public financial management, anti-corruption, and e-government was discussed, as were projects that foster entrepreneurialism and inclusive economic growth.
As the meeting concluded, Mr. Bouadze remarked that, “I can see clearly some follow up actions from this meeting. For example, we have discussed some digital solutions, which is a potential area of collaboration. I am very pleased that we have identified new areas where UNDP and the broader UN system might be able to support your development ambitions. We will come back to you for follow-up conversations that can take us to the next level.”
“We have conveyed our plans and priorities and are grateful for your indicative responses to our most pressing needs. We appreciate the depth of your commitment that will assist us and are humbled to know where our help will come from - at this very challenging time and into the future,” confirmed Ms. Pahulu in response.
The APR will be an annual event, with the next one scheduled for early 2022. The partners will remain in close communication until then, ensuring that the portfolio of sustainable development projects is implemented in a timely manner and produces results for the people of Tonga.
For media queries, please contact:
Emily Moli, Knowledge Communications Analyst, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. Email; firstname.lastname@example.org or mob: +(679) 722 5301
Setaita Tavanabola, Communications Associate, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email: email@example.com