Islamabad, 13 April 2021— The UNDP’s Director of Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, who is also the Assistant UN Secretary-General and Assistant UNDP Administrator, visited Pakistan on a virtual mission from 31 March till 12 April 2021.

During the mission, the Regional Director, along with UNDP Pakistan Resident Representative, Mr. Knut Ostby met Pakistan’s Prime Minister to launch the National Human Development Report, key Government officials, partners from the donor community, UN Country Team, private sector, and civil society groups— to discuss development challenges and opportunities, and to inform of UNDP’s Regional Priorities.

 

 

 

Key Government officials the Regional Director met included— H.E Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives; H.E. Shirin Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights and Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, Advisor to PM on Climate Change.

Ms. Wignaraja appreciated the strong partnership between the Government of Pakistan and UNDP. The Director highlighted excellent examples of collaboration in areas of SDGs localization, COVID-19 socio-economic response, and advancement on climate action SDG 13. The Director shared that UNDP’s key priorities in Pakistan include supporting COVID-19 Recovery & Resilience Processes to achieve SDGs, contributing to Prime Minister’s Digital Pakistan Initiative, enhancing Inclusive Governance Effectiveness and Rule of Law, building climate resilience, and promoting Cross-Border Cooperation & Regional Connectivity. The Director reiterated UNDP’s commitment to build on current successes in the partnership with government to advance the socio-economic development, in line with the government’s priorities.

Ms. Wignaraja met UNDP’s development partners, that included USAID, European Union (EU), UK, Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, and Norway. The Director appreciated and recognized the valuable partnership with the donor community, through which UNDP is providing integrated support to the Government of Pakistan to help find solutions to persistent development challenges and for advancing Pakistan’s achievement of SDG Goals.

Ms. Wignaraja also met Julien Harneis, United Nations in Pakistan Resident Coordinator, and UN Country Team to share UNDP’s regional priorities, and to discuss ideas for UNDP SDG integrator role. The Director highlighted that the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) has established a Global Policy Network of experts and practitioners to provide development advice and programme delivery support. It also connects countries to the global knowledge, resources and networks of best practices they need to achieve development breakthroughs.

Together with the Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, the Regional Director launched UNDP Pakistan’s National Human Development Report (NHDR). The launch was also attended by the Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Mr. Asad Umar. The report, presented by the lead author Dr. Hafiz Pasha, explores the many dimensions of inequality in Pakistan. The report takes a comprehensive approach, exploring not just economic measures such as income and wealth, but also studying inequalities in human development - the true measure of a country’s success.  

Speaking on inequality Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, stated, “The challenge of inequality is endemic, nationally, regionally and globally. While the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed the steepest rise in human development, globally, it continues to grapple with widespread multidimensional poverty, and is now vulnerable to a new set of inequalities emerging around higher education and climate resilience. And the one we have been unable to close - the shocking gender gaps in our region”. 

During the mission, the Director met civil society representatives and activists and emphasized the meaningful collaboration between Pakistan civil and UNDP Pakistan that contributes towards strengthening Pakistan’s rights-based approaches to social inclusion, address inequalities, protection and promotion of human rights in the country, with a special focus on rights of women, transgender persons, religious minorities and differently abled persons. Ms. Wignaraja also met women leaders who are testing boundaries in the tech space, and discussed further opportunities for UNDP to provide catalytic support. As UNDP develops its first digital transformation portfolio, investing in digital solutions that are driven by women or in support of connecting women are critical.

For additional information, please contact Ayesha Babar at ayesha.babar@undp.org  or +92 (51) 835 5650

 

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