Partnerships promoted as South-East Asian ministers parley on poverty reduction in Lao capital

xinhuanet.com 19-Oct-2015

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Prime Minister of Laos Thongsing Thammavong addresses the 9th Ministerial Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication in Vientiane, Laos, Oct. 17, 2015. (Xinhua/Liu Ailun)

VIENTIANE, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Poverty in East Asia and the Pacific has dropped from 63 percent in 1990 to less than 7 percent today but more gains are possible through the right partnerships, ministers from across South-East Asia were told in the Lao capital Saturday.

The final day of the 5-day 9th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Reduction on the theme "Public, Private and People Partnerships for Post-2015 Sustainable Development in ASEAN" was officially opened by Prime Minister of Laos Mr Thongsing Thammavong in Vientiane.

Addressing the audience of assembled ministers, diplomats and the general public, ASEAN Secretary-General Mr Le Luong Minh commended ASEAN states particularly the emerging so-called CMLV group comprising Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam for remarkable socio-economic progress in the past two and a half decades.

"This achievement is not a result of governments alone, but also thanks to the significant contributions of NGOs in our region," he said.

Despite successfully halving its poverty rate since the 1990s, host Laos remains one of the regions smallest and least-developed states.

In his opening address, Prime Minister Thammavong identified infrastructure development as a key area in the country's strategy to increase economic activity and reduce poverty particularly in its rural and remote areas.

Access to public health services and sanitation, food security and the promotion of commercial agricultural production, improved education and the transition of dispersed rural settlements to sustainable permanent townships were also among Laos' priority areas for addressing the challenges of rural development and poverty reduction, Mr Thammavong said.

He identified shortages in financial support, human resources and infrastructure as among the barriers to overcome.

Conveying a message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, UN Resident Coordinator Dr Stephen Rudgard commended ASEAN states for support of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals recently agreed to at the UN General Assembly in New York.

"(This) requires partnerships between governments, businesses, civil society, the UN System and committed individuals and organisations from across all walks of life," Dr Rudgard said.

"We all need to work together to mobilize all available resources, adapt global goals to local contexts and play our respective roles in building an inclusive and sustainable future, free of poverty and discrimination."