Thai Princess visits UN to discuss nutrition and education

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (centre left), Ambassador Danai, Thai Ambassador to Indonesia and

Timor-Leste (second from left) and Agency representatives of the United Nations in Timor-Leste at the meeting.


Welcome Remarks to HRH meeting UN Country Team,

11 June 2019

By Acting Resident Coordinator of the UN in Timor-Leste, Mr Dageng Liu (WFP).


Your Royal Highness, Your Excellency Ambassador Danai, Distinguished Delegates, dear colleagues from the UN Country Team,

On behalf of the UN Country Team and UN Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy who is out of country I would like to extend my warmest welcome to Your Royal Highness and the royal delegation to Timor-Leste and for the honour to make a courtesy visit to the UN compound in particular.

Your Royal Highness you have our admiration and appreciation for being a staunch and relentless champion and advocate of the United Nations Development Agenda.

Just giving a few examples, in 2003 you accepted to be the World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador for the School Feeding Programme, in 2005 you accepted to be the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for the Empowerment of Minority Children through Education and Preservation of Their Intangible Cultural Heritage. Most recently you have accepted to take on a lead role as the FAO Goodwill Ambassador for Zero Hunger. We thank you for your dedication, commitment and support to the United Nations and to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

The United Nations have a long-standing relationship with Timor-Leste since 1960. The United Nations are credited to have played a crucial role in supporting Timor-Leste to access and restore its independence and full sovereignty. Its support was extended to support the transition gradually and responsibly to peace, social cohesion and democracy. Since 2012 and thanks to the consolidation of peace and security and the establishment of strong national institutions, the UN has moved from peace-keeping operations to improving prosperity through development, focusing its support to Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030. The UN’s current work is guided by the UN Development Assistance Framework 2015-2019. With the ongoing reform of UN development system a new generation of UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework will be developed in 2020 in close partnership with the Government.

Your Royal Highness we understand this is your second visit to Timor-Leste. On 9 Jan 2014 with the grace presence of Your Royal Highness and the then Prime Minister Mr Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, and former Executive Secretary of UN ESCAP Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the first national Zero Hunger Action Plan in Asia and the Pacific was launched in Timor-Leste with the support of the UN Country Team and technical coordination of FAO.

Five years after your 2014 visit, fighting food insecurity and combating all forms of malnutrition are still very high on the agenda, it is a good time to review the progress of the Zero Hunger Action Plan. My colleague from FAO will make a special presentation on it. A lot of work has been done and still much need to be achieve. The Government of Timor-Leste will present the Voluntary National Review on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to the UN High-Level Political Forum in New York next month July 2019. This represents an excellent opportunity to showcase Timor-Leste achievement on SDG in particular SDG2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

Preliminary findings from the Voluntary National Review indicate that while very positive results have been achieved in some areas there are still many challenges to be overcome in other areas.

As the newest country in Asia, Timor-Leste has made a long journey from a traumatic independence struggle and period of civil unrest and conflict to become a peaceful and democratic nation focused on state-building and accelerated sustainable development. Timor-Leste has made important progress in Health and Education. Maternal and child mortality rates have reduced, the country is polio-free and on track to eliminate malaria.  School enrollment and attendance have increased markedly with better access to education for girls paving the way to gender parity.

The Voluntary National Review also highlights areas where progress has been slow and for which additional assistance is needed.  Significant investments are urgently needed in quality education for instance. While the number of stunted children under 5 years old (low height for age) is declining, it still remains high compared with other Asian countries and well above WHO threshold of public health significance. Food security wise, 36%, or one out of three of the Timorese population are facing chronic food insecurity. Sustained investment is also needed to improve availability and access to clean water and sanitation, a key driver of malnutrition. Economic diversification and job creation in productive sectors, such as labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, will help grow the non-oil economy.

We are happy to report that KONSSANTIL, the National Council for Food Security, Sovereignty and Nutrition in Timor-Leste established in 2010 is slowly gaining its momentum and has played a catalytic role to promote better coordination and partnership among line ministries and different stakeholders to address food insecurity and malnutrition.

The UN Country Team stands ready to strengthen its partnerships with the Government and other development stakeholders to support policy dialogue, explore new forms of financing, promote technology, south-south cooperation and provide technical support to accelerate SDG progress in Timor-Leste.

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