On the occasion of the celebration of the United day in 24 October, the UN conducted a series of interviews exclusively for Ahram Online.
The UN day marks the anniversary of the entry of the UN chart into force in 1945.
With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.
The sixth interview in the series is with Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Randa Aboul-Hosn.
How is UNDP supporting the Government of Egypt and its people? What are the key areas you focus on?
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people and countries.On the ground in over 170 countries, with 18 offices in the Arab region, UNDP works to assist national counterparts to formulate and implement their own solutions to global, regional, and national development challenges.In 2017, we succeeded in developing our Country Programme Document (CPD) for the years 2018 to 2022, a five-year plan, that focuses on inclusive growth and innovation, climate change and environment and gender equality. The document was built on intensive consultations with the government, private sector, academia, youth, donors, and civil society.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals that you focus on in Egypt? And how do you support the Government in reporting to the SDGs?
Egypt presented its first Voluntary Review on the SDGs at the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2016 and is among the 22 countries that volunteered to report on the efforts undertaken to achieve this ambitious agenda. We are currently supporting the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform (MoPMAR) in the process to submit the new report this June 2018.
The Government requested UNDP’s support for the SDG implementation. We, through the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the collaborative effort with the United Nations Country Team, is supporting a coherent working package that focuses on identifying SDG accelerators, interlinkages and evidence-based policy-making tools. This work is presented through the MAPS i.e. Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support. This supporting system works under the mandate of the UNPDF to provide a shared resource to engage with governments and partners on the SDGs, paying special attention to the cross-cutting elements of partnerships, data and accountability.
We also work with line Ministries and private sector to support all of the SDGs as they are indivisible. In the area of Climate Change and Environment, we focus on SDGs 6, 7, 11, 13, 14 and 15. In the area of inclusive growth, it is SDGs - 1, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16 and 17 and in the area of gender equality, we focus on SDG 5 and 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 16.
Looking back at 2017, what do you consider as the key achievements that you were able to achieve?
We are glad to report that we were able to support the Government significantly to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. I will here give some of the key achievements that we are proud of:
We supported the automation of 80% of 4,000 post offices nationwide, which is now delivering modern and digitalized financial and saving services for over 22 million citizens, and 5.5 million pensioners every month.
UNDP mobilized resources and expertise to support the Ministry of Water and Irrigation test soft engineering solutions covering 3.5 km of the North Coast, to counter shoreline erosion, now scaling up to additional 69 km under the Green Climate Fund. This work is expected to reduce the significant economic losses from shoreline erosion impacting the lives of 25 percent of Egyptians.
250 leading businesses from Egypt and the region convened through UNDP, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation. Sustainable business strategies and solutions were on top of the agenda, with a focus on SDG driven Corporate Social Responsibility actions.
You have visited UNDP projects on the ground several times. Can you share with us one of the remarkable stories that you have seen?
I visited several projects in Egypt’s different governorates and I always like to go because I can directly see the impact on the people and the communities. I can’t forget an old man whom I spoke to when I visited a small village in Qena governorate. He was very passionate and enthusiastic when he told me that he will never circumcise his daughters. He is now an advocate to end the harmful practice Female Genital Mutilation. I could see the change in his behavior from the complete opposite. We have, under the national programme for the abonnement of Female Genital Mutilation, whole villages refusing the practice and joining the initiative of #NOFGM
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I am very optimistic that in 2018 we will be able, together with the Government of Egypt and our partners and donors, to achieve results that positively influence millions of people in Egypt. We have a solid plan and we have the knowledge, network and expertise to see this as a reality. We can see positive signs that the economy is gradually improving which will be in favor of the people’s well-being and livelihoods.