Capacity building work in Sofia

01 May 2007

UNDP Resident Representatives discussed UNDP’s vision, medium term programs, priorities in the near future, and its role in middle-income countries in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

New Horizons - The meeting, which was held on 23-24 April 2007, was attended by the UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş, the Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States Kori Udovicki (also Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant UNDP Administrator) and the UNDP Resident Representatives of the reigon as well as other senior officials from the UN, executives from other UN agencies and scholars from universities.

Partnership with the EU, building capacity for the liberalization of trade, social sector reforms and climate change were also on the agenda at the UNDP regional meeting.

The annual meeting was opened with Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev’s welcome message in which he highlighted the importance of UNDP’s role as a bridge that will close the gap between the rich and poor countries and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Stanishev stressed that Bulgaria expects UNDP’s support in the areas of social inclusion, poverty reduction, employment policies, good governance and environmental protection.

In his speech, UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviş stated that Bulgaria who is now a member of the EU is in a condition in which it can play an important role in development cooperation because it is a middle-income country that can share its knowledge with poorer countries and relate to rich countries as well. Derviş added that due to Bulgaria’s geographical and historical standing it can connect with the north and south as well as the east and west.

Regarding UNDP’s partnership with the EU, Director of UNDP Liaison Office in Brussels Antonia Vigilante stated that today UNDP is seen as more of a partner than a contractor by the EU due to various bilateral agreements signed in the near past. In this context the UN tries to ensure mutual understanding and works to mobilize resources.

Regarding the liberalization of international trade, the participants arrived at a concensus that international organizations need to work on adopting policies and approaches regarding international trade and need to establish procedures for the free movement of goods. The labour market was also addressed in which the recent developments, the positive trends, persisting problems, new challenges and the labour market dynamics in the region were discussed.

UNDP’s role in middle-income countries was one of the focus points of the meeting. The panel was composed of the UNDP Administrator and Mahmood Ayub, Resident Representative in Turkey and the session was chaired by Ben Slay, Director of UNDP's Regional Centre in Bratislava capital of Slovak Republic. The Administrator highlighted the overall context of UNDP's involvement in middle-income countries, making the case for UN and UNDP's active participation in these countries. Mr Ayub discussed the special case of Turkey as a middle-income country elaborating the niche areas for UN and UNDP in Turkey. Answering questions regarding this matter, Ben Slay stated that it should be kept in mind that middle-income countries do not necessarily mean that they are poor countries. On the contrary these countries have a chance of upgrading into high-income countries. According to Slay, middle income countries are already developped to some extent and only need to address their needs in certain areas.

Climate change and energy that were other focus areas of the meeting were held in a separate session and the importance of recognizing climate change not just as an environmental issues but as a social, economic and political issue globally was stressed once again. During this session the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocols were discussed in depth.