His Excellency, the President of Seychelles, Mr Danny Faure welcomed the UN delegation for a courtesy visit in the morning of Tuesday April 16, 2019 at the State House of Seychelles. H.E. Mr D. Faure recognized and acknowledged the commitment of the UN delegation, lead respectively by Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Regional Director, East and Southern Africa of UNFPA and Her Excellency Ambassador Christine Umutoni, UN Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and Seychelles. The delegation also comprised Regional Directors from UNESCO and UNWTO, and Heads of UN agencies of four countries namely Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles who will participate in the UN Retreat.
The President of Seychelles welcomed the UN Country Team to Seychelles and expressed his gratitude for choosing to hold the retreat in the Island nation to better understand the context. He appreciated the UN's commitment to the Seychelles while other bilateral and multi-lateral agencies have disengaged as the country attained high-income status. The UN support has allowed the country to continue having an equal voice in the international arena as well as identifying and tackling existing vulnerabilities.
A copy of the State of World Population Report 2019, in preparation for the regional launch to be held jointly by the Government and UNCT, was handed over to the President on this occasion. The Government of Seychelles and UNCT Strategic Programme Framework, a first in partnership platform, has enabled joint funding, implementation and review of progress. He pledged his Government's total commitment for its implementation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The latter also acknowledged the separation of the Resident Coordinator office from the UNDP stating that the delinking will help to better focus support.
"Seychelles is excelling in many areas including attainment of high-income status and is recognized as a blue economy champion, but it is still facing some challenges such as inequality that need to be addressed," stated HE Mr Faure. The latter backed the regional engagement in the context of SIDS specially the commonalities among IOC countries whereby Seychelles is the actual chair and reiterated the commitment of the Republic of Seychelles in supporting the SAMOA pathway and all other regional and international commitments.
Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, Head of Delegation, indicated a number of events that will be held alongside the UNCT retreat such as the UNFPA launch of the State of World Population Report 2019; the celebration of the 50th anniversary of UNFPA and ICPD's 25th; the KWIBUKA25 remembrance event 25th commemoration of 1994 Rwanda Genocide against the Tutsi; the Official Launching of the SPF Steering Committee of Seychelles; and a team building trip to Praslin Island. She said the SWOP2019 report incorporated the progress made during the last 25 years. The report puts people, especially women at the center of development, that is education for girls and safe pregnancies amongst others but highlighted that more needs to be done.
The Regional Coordinator, Mrs. Christine Umutoni, described the UNCT Retreat as a UN Family Country Team annual event that reviews country specific plans and from this retreat, regional needs and networks will be incorporated. "The Agenda has been elaborated to gain consensus on Seychelles SPF implementation mechanisms; support Mauritius SPF launch and implementation and to explore means of regional collaboration" , she concluded.
The retreat itself, which is the main objective of this meeting, aims to build on lessons learnt from the previous years, agree on the UNCT's collective strategic engagement within the context of regional framework, UN reform and support both countries to achieve SDGs. The UNCT Retreat will maintain its critical role in promoting valuable support towards capacity building efforts, in fostering policy dialogue and advocacy, sharing of best practices and identifying lessons and innovations, and back research and data analysis in addition to various ongoing projects and programs.
To conclude, Dr. Julitta Onabanjo extended her appreciations to the President for the warm welcome provided by the Government of Seychelles in organizing the retreat and facilitating the participants' stay in the island and the valuable support his Government offered in facilitating the work of the UN in Seychelles including establishment of a coordination office in the Foreign Affairs Office.
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