Statement by A.L.A. Azeez, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, Vienna at the 14th Session of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
Posted on December 1st, 2011

A.L.A. Azeez, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, Vienna

Madam President,

Honourable Ministers,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, let me congratulate you, Madam VerƒÆ’†’³nica SiƒÆ’†’³n, Minister of Industry and Productivity of Ecuador, on your election as the President of the Fourteenth Session of the UNIDO General Conference. I am confident that with your rich experience and exposure, you would be able to steer the deliberations of the General Conference towards successful conclusion.

Our congratulations also go to the Vice Presidents and elected members of the Bureau. Ambassador Soltanieh deserves our sincere appreciation for his leadership at the 13th Session of the General Conference.

The trajectory of UNIDO has been clear and consistent. In 2005 it had only a limited portfolio, and over a period of 6 years, it has expanded manifold. Its technical cooperation component now stands at US $ 183.6 million. That the UNIDO is doing today more than it has ever delivered before, is no exaggeration. Positive changes in the living conditions of people are visible in many countries where UNIDO is currently engaged. This is true of Sri Lanka as well.

That transformation, in our view, is attributable to the dynamism, innovativeness and vision of Director General Kandeh Yumkella. He has turned UNIDO around, with the support of his able and dedicated Deputy, Yoshi Uramoto, who unfortunately would be leaving the organization shortly, and of his competent staff. It is an achievement that we- the stakeholders- are proud of, as UNIDO gears itself for RIO+20 and MDG target of 2015.

Sri Lanka, like many other developing countries, attaches great importance to the work of UNIDO. Sustainable industrial development leading to improvement in the living conditions of people remains our shared goal. UNIDO makes a productive contribution in this area by drawing on its rich expertise in the thematic field of Environment and Energy. Trade Capacity Building as well as “ƒ”¹…”Poverty Alleviation through Productive Activities’, combined with these priorities, go a long way in unleashing the potential for economic growth in the developing countries.

Madam President,

We have listened carefully to the opening statement of the Director General and to the deliberations under the overall theme “The New Industrial Revolution: Making it sustainable.” These, as well as the discussions and outcomes of the LDC Ministerial Conference, the Forum on Industrial Development Issues and the Round Tables, provide impetus to our collective efforts at harnessing green growth in our industries.

These statements and interventions have not highlighted the accomplishments alone. They also outline the challenges and opportunities ahead. Some may appear to be dreams- for instance, the concept of “ƒ”¹…”energy internet’. But we must not forget the lessons of history: it has taken one person to dream, for humanity to march in progress. It is human nature to seek to dismiss a new concept, or a new possibility as “ƒ”¹…”idealistic’. But it has been proven over time that it is a modicum of idealism which pushes the frontiers of reality. UNIDO, no doubt, is both a platform for, and incubator of, such new ideas “”…”and even dreams.

Today, we are faced with many a challenge as a result of a multitude of factors. These include the accelerated globalization of the past decades, the global financial crisis, and the adverse consequences of climate change, food and energy crises. These issues are complex and inter-twined, and require a holistic, concerted and collective response. The importance of UNIDO as an organization committed to triggering sustainable industrial growth, consists in being part of the response strategy for these challenges.

Madam President,

We appreciate the continuing focus of the Organization on its three main thematic priorities, as identified in its comprehensive annual reports of this year and last year. With an increase in the technical cooperation portfolio, it is appropriate now to consider an enhancement of its technical cooperation delivery in line with the level of funds mobilized. In the programme for Asia and the Pacific in the Medium Term Programme Framework (MTPF) for 2010-2013, projects in the fields of agro-industry, technology transfer, and green industry are of special relevance given their potential for the positive transformation of the region’s poverty profile. Equally important is continuing assistance for trade capacity building, SME development in post-crisis environments, and mobilisation of investment in growth-potential sectors. We hope for sufficient allocation of resources in these crucial areas.

Madam President,

Sri Lanka was privileged to have hosted last year, the 9th Asia Pacific Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production. The Director General delivered the keynote address at this important conference and visited some of the UNIDO projects in Sri Lanka. In March next year, my country will be hosting “Sri Lanka Expo 2012″ where all the sectors with growth potential; industry, trade, tourism and investment, would be represented, and the concept of sustainable industrial development would be a key feature. It is an occasion to visit and see for oneself how Sri Lanka’s economy is growing, and growing with a renewable energy thrust.

Effective and sustainable industrial development remains an important aspect of the overall development strategy under “Mahinda Chinthanaya”, which sets out the Government policies. Through the pursuit of prudent policies, the country has registered 8% economic growth, with the contribution of the North and the East accounting for over 20%. A comprehensive integrated national development plan not only envisions projects in growth potential areas, but seeks to address the regional disparities in development as well. This goes in tandem with the accelerated development and rehabilitation of the affected areas in the North and the East including support for sustainable livelihood in the fields of farming and fisheries, restoration of road and rail networks, renovation of schools and hospitals as well as development and expansion of industrial sites with a renewable energy thrust. With its strong emphasis on agricultural productivity, livelihood recovery, development of SME sector and promotion of investment, among others, the Government of Sri Lanka seeks to ensure that all people are beneficiaries of economic advancement and peace dividends.

The UNIDO’s engagement in some of these programmes is truly commendable. This includes the recently completed 18 KW Dendro plant, providing power to 23 houses in a rural village, and the introduction of Social Accountability Standard (SA 8000) and Food Safety (HACCP/ISO 22000) Standard “”…” or food hygiene certification scheme. All this has led to the enhancement of product diversification and value addition in certain sectors, including increased output from the Eastern Province in agro-products and fish, and growth in the Bamboo industry. The Cinnamon industry is a potential area for future collaboration.

The National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) in Sri Lanka, one of seven such centres in the Asian region, remains an exemplary model of successful partnership with UNIDO. Other than sharing best practices, providing professional consultancy, training for launching and conducting cleaner production assessments in industries, and assisting in incorporating Cleaner Production into university curricula, the Centre sensitizes stakeholders and the industry on sustainable consumption and production practices. A large number of businesses in Sri Lanka currently implement CP solutions in their enterprises.

Madam President,

Today, sustainable development is not specialty, it is norm. Each state and organization emphasizes on integrating sustainable development into its core programmes and activities. Renewable energy or cleaner energy remains at the heart of the concept of sustainable development. It contributes to value creation with social responsibility. Nevertheless, for the developing countries, the cost of adaptation is a critical factor. For the teeming millions the world over and for all of us, the transition should be a much less painful process. The downside of all this is the phenomenon of climate change- and global warming. A concerted, collective response to this phenomenon lies in part in effectively upholding the principle of shared, but differentiated responsibility.

Madam President,

I have sketched out some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

It is against this backdrop that the future of UNIDO becomes important. We hope to address this aspect during the deliberations of the Working Group on the Future of UNIDO which was established by the Industrial Development Board in May this year. There are several aspects which need to engage the attention of the Working Group. A particular aspect that my delegation would flag for the consideration of the Working Group is the potential role of UNIDO in the post-MDG era; beyond 2015.

It is our fervent hope, Madam President, that by envisioning today and now, a key role for the organisation beyond 2015 in the MDG-continuum, UNIDO would reach another milestone; staying ahead of the curve in addressing development goals. That, we think, would be a cutting edge for UNIDO.

Thank you, Madam President.

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