Statement of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, at the UNSDCF 2021-2025 Signing Ceremony

On Thursday, 22nd October 2020, the United Nations and Government of Eswatini signed the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025.

His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Cabinet Ministers and Members of the Parliament, Excellencies from the Diplomatic Corps, Officials from the Government, UN Heads of Agencies and staff,  CEOs and Captains of Industry, Representatives from the private sector, civil society, the academia and the media, Distinguished partners, Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to you all, as well as to those joining us online. It is with utmost humility, pleasure and honour that I stand before you today for the Signing Ceremony of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the cycle 2021 – 2025.     

It is overwhelming to consider the circumstances under which we are gathering today. COVID-19 threw us all, as people, partners, a nation and the world in a roller coaster of losses and uncertainties. Yet what came to cause such devastations and destruction, has bound us closer than ever before. 

On behalf of the United Nations Development System in the Kingdom of Eswatini, I would like to extend my congratulations, admiration and gratitude to all who are present in this room and online today: your resilience and strength are an everyday inspiration that will brin us as ONE HUMANITY through this pandemic.

I would also like to express deep appreciation to His Majesty King Mswati III for his fierce, passionate,  , committed, and moving partnership with the United Nations over the past five decades, a partnership that is based on solidarity, trust and mutual respect. It has been and remains a privilege to serve the people of this nation.

Today bears much significance as we sign the 2021-2025 Cooperation Framework: a reflection of the UN’s continued and deep commitment to the Kingdom of Eswatini, in a time when COVID-19 threatens decades of development progress. Yet, we embrace this unique opportunity to recover better together, to build a better future for all and indeed, to leave no one behind. 

The Kingdom of Eswatini became a member of the United Nations in September 1968: 52 years ago. Over the years, this partnership -- guided by mutual respect, solidarity and trust – has worked collaboratively and tirelessly to tackle numerous challenges facing the people of Eswatini and continues to do so even today. I am proud to say that many milestones have been achieved.

As we take a leap forward today, I would like to thank His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister, for his leadership, his shared aspirations, his guidance and always sound questions/inquiries in our numerous consultations that drove the formulation of UNSDCF 2021-2025, a critical instrument  in the implementation in Eswatini of the Reform of the UN Development System. 

As we may all know Agenda 2030 is a commitment from world leaders, including His Majesty, to end poverty worldwide, foster peace, safeguard the rights and the dignity of all people, and protect the planet. We are proud to see that Eswatini has demonstrated dedication and commitment towards this vision. The determination of the Government of Eswatini to achieve the SDGs is clearly demonstrated in the nation’s magnificent achievement of 95-95-95 target as well as  the country’s reduced poverty levels and improvements in the maternal mortality rate, stunting, and access to clean water and electricity. 

From having the world’s highest HIV prevalence to reaching the global target ten years in advance of the rest of the world, this achievement  illustrates how, working together in partnership, in unity and in solidarity towards the common goal of serving the people of Eswatini, we can move numerous mountains in this majestic Kingdom. We did it; you people of Eswatini did it with HIV and AIDS. 

Together, with the friends and committed partners of the Kingdom of Eswatini, we can repeat the same success with the same focus, the same determination and the same dedication in areas such as inclusive economic growth, education, health, tourism, mining, agribusiness as well as good governance. Significant to those achievements is the resilience of the people of Eswatini, combined with the dedication and the hard work of line ministries, development partners, financial institutions, the private sector, civil society organizations, religious and traditional leaders, philanthropic organizations, the academia and centres of research, community members and many others.

Your Excellency, the Cooperation Framework 2021-2025, articulates the collective vision of the entire UN Development System in Eswatini, striving to deliver as one UN family with the Government of Eswatini  to support “A prosperous, just and resilient Eswatini where no one is left behind”, in line with His Majesty’s Vision 2022, the National Development Plan and Strategic Road Map, Agenda 2030, Agenda 2063 and the voices of many Emaswati in this last Decade of Action  

The development of this cooperation framework represents a milestone for Eswatini as the country is among the first 10 African countries to make this transition in line with the aspirations of the world leaders when they endorsed the Reform of the UN Development System. It is founded on three principles, namely: Prosperity, People and Planet. It has been developed at a time when the vulnerabilities and systemic inequalities within societies have been exposed and often exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, vulnerable populations are in need of our support and these include: women and girls, lactating mothers, children, the youth, older persons, persons living with disabilities, people living with HIV and AIDS, the LGBTQI community, low-income and migrant populations.

The UN family in Eswatini, comprised of 16 UN agencies, funds and programs (namely, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, FAO, UNAIDS, WHO, WFP, IOM, UNESCO, UNEP, UN Women, OHCHR, UNODC, UNHCHR, UNIDO and ILO) reiterates its commitment of service to the people of Eswatini and collaboration with the Government of Eswatini. Through our 4 main areas of intervention, which are: policy development; technical assistance and capacity development; research and data collection; as well as advocacy  for change, transformation and development, we commit to live up to the expectations placed in the UN, a trusted partner of the people of Eswatini. We intend to work with each partner in a better coordinated, more integrated, more coherent, more inclusive and more accountable to achieve Agenda 2030.

It is  critical that our signed commitment to the Cooperation Framework is built on a shared understanding of responsibilities and accountabilities: in the joint planning, the implementation and the monitoring of the Framework. It is in solidarity with one another that we will see transformative change in the life of every ordinary Liswati and thus, the fruits of our collective work. 

Excellencies,

In closing, the United Nations family in Eswatini looks forward to the 1st of January, 2021 when UNSDCF 2021-2025will be operationalized. Each signature witnessed today - from that of His Excellency, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers alike, the UN Resident Coordinator and Heads of UN Agencies - symbolises the brilliant partnership, excellent collaboration, reiterated accountability and renewed commitment to Eswatini’s Development Agenda. 

I wish you an enjoyable morning.

I thank you.

Speech by
Author
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
Resident Coordinator
RCO
Nathalie Ndongo-Seh
UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IOM
International Organization for Migration
RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
ACAA
Afghanistan and Central Asian Association