Dr. Ajay Chhibber, the UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific concludes a three-day visit to Sri Lanka

07 Oct 2012

imageDr. Ajay Chhibber lighting the traditional oil lamp during the visit to the livelihood project site in Jaffna

Dr. Ajay Chhibber, the UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and Chair, UN Regional Director’s Team, Asia and the Pacific visited Sri Lanka from 4 to 6 October to mark the UN’s new 5-year programme framework in Sri Lanka and to assess ongoing programmes of the United Nations Development Programme.

During the visit, Dr. Chhibber met and exchanged views with high-level Government officials, including with Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Hon. G. J. L. Neomal Perera, Acting Minister of External Affairs, Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management and Hon. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Minister of National Languages and Social Integration. He also met with Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance and Planning and witnessed the formal signing of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for 2013-2017.

A highlight of Dr. Chhibber’s visit was the launch of the Sri Lanka Human Development Report 2012, on 5 October 2012, titled, ‘Bridging Regional Disparities for Human Development’. With UNDP in Sri Lanka gradually shifting focus to look at issues of regional disparities and socio-economic inequalities across the country and promoting multi-stakeholder approaches to policy advocacy and reform, this Report comes at a significant juncture, explained Dr. Chhibber: “Sri Lanka has led the way in performance in human development indicators, and my hope is that it can once again show the region the way forward on the issue of how to address growth and inequality, along with addressing the challenges of reconciliation for durable peace,” said Dr. Chhibber.

During his visit, Dr. Chhibber engaged in a round table discussion with eminent economists and representatives from think tanks on policy support options within Sri Lanka’s development context, and with a cross-section of women leaders from the political, civil society, academic and corporate sectors where issues pertaining to women in Sri Lanka, including gender-based violence, economic empowerment and political participation of women and low-labour force participation were discussed.

Dr. Chhibber also undertook a visit to Jaffna, where he held discussions with the Regional Human Rights Commission and civil society representatives, followed by a meeting with the Government Agent of Jaffna and a visit to a UNDP livelihood development project. He was briefed about the recovery and development priorities in the District, about UNDP’s work in the areas of local governance, mine action, access to justice, socio-economic recovery and disaster risk management, and also heard about challenges that still remain in the domain of reconciliation and bringing peace dividends to the people.

Allocation of land and job creation were highlighted as key issues during the visit that needed greater attention. “We need to pay greater attention to human needs of the people being resettled to enhance recovery,” Dr. Chhibber noted.