Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the ceremony of signing the Memorandum on the Replenishment of the Russia-UNDP Trust Fund for Development, via videoconference, Moscow, May 21, 2020
Ms Mirjana Spoljaric Egger,
Mr Achim Steiner,
I am happy to welcome you. Unfortunately, we are limited to holding this landmark meeting via remote participation contrary to our original plans. But I would like to assure you that as soon as the situation stabilises, we will be happy to organise a visit to Russia for Mr Steiner, including as a regular guest of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
Five years ago (on June 11, 2015), your predecessor, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, and I signed an agreement establishing the Russian Federation-UNDP Trust Fund for Development (TFD), which brought our cooperation with the Development Programme – as a key partner within the UN system for international development assistance – to a new strategic level.
The Trust Fund is a unique tool not only from the financial point of view, but it also ensures the effectiveness and sustainability of Russian assistance to international development, as well as the systematisation of our experience in this field. Today, UNDP is the only body in the UN system where we have this high level of structured cooperation.
Our interaction is developing very dynamically. Significant progress is evident both in terms of our projects’ thematic and geographical coverage, and organisationally as well. Until 2015, our portfolio of joint activities consisted of several separate projects. By last year, our partnership turned into a comprehensive institutional mechanism with funding exceeding $90 million.
The UNDP standards of transparency and accountability, as well as the collegial decision-making principle in the TFD have contributed to improving the quality of the Trust Fund’s operation.
During a series of field missions (in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, and Serbia) to monitor the implementation of our projects, the members of the Steering Committee (SC) were able to personally see the positive effects of our assistance for the beneficiaries. It is important that various practices developed as part of the TFD projects are being successfully applied outside the focus regions, are integrated into the subsequent phases of projects, and contribute to our own knowledge base in the field of international development assistance.
The two thematic TFD projects – the Climate Change Window and the Youth Window – have focused our joint activities on addressing the urgent problems of the programme countries even more strongly. The positive results of the Trust Fund’s activities have enabled the Government of the Russian Federation to continue this effort.
Today we are signing a memorandum on the next $30 million replenishment of the Trust Fund’s general budget – more than what was originally stipulated in the agreement on the establishment of the TFD. I am also pleased to inform you that our agencies are currently working on the possibility of expanding the Youth Window and adding a Women’s Window for implementing projects in developing countries to support economic opportunities for women and girls.
We are confident that today’s event is an important step in the evolution of our cooperation. We hope that new TFD initiatives will be multi-faceted, will target the most pressing socioeconomic problems, will embrace an even wider audience of beneficiaries and, most importantly, will continue to strengthen previously achieved results.
In this regard, I would like to note that, together with the Russian Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Development, we intend to channel the first tranche from TFD resources to help the programme countries address the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Although we have yet to assess the scale and impact of this global problem, it is obvious even now that many low income and lower-middle-income countries are going to struggle hard to preserve jobs and livelihoods, and to maintain food security and social stability.
It is also important to not miss the opportunities that are opening up for more vigorous introduction and application of modern digital solutions in various fields. I hope this step will be an important contribution to the implementation of the UNDP global COVID-19 response programme.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS and personally Assistant Administrator, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, for her cooperation and assistance with the TFD, as well as the staff of the UNDP Country Office in Moscow that supports our partnership.
Thank you very much. Mr Steiner, as I said, as soon as the situation changes, we will make plans for you to visit Russia.