George Conway, UNDP Country Director a.i, launch of the Environmental Impact, Risks and Opportunities Assessment, Juba, South Sudan
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Honourable Minster of the Environment Alfred Lado Gore,
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment, Professor Scopas Jibi Dima,
Members of the Government,
Members of the Academic Community,
Representatives of the international development community,
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme I would like to thank all of you for being here this morning, and specifically I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Environment.
We at UNDP are proud of our partnership with the Ministry to launch this Environmental Impact, Risks & Opportunities Assessment for South Sudan. Environmental stewardship is critical for peace and development, especially here in South Sudan, where most people rely on natural resources for their economic livelihoods.
A strong environmental policy and legal framework will help to provide a solid foundation for sustainable economic development as well as prevent potential conflicts and violence over natural resources.
This report is important for three reasons: first, it rigorously evaluates the current environmental situation in South Sudan; second, it provides insight into the environmental challenges facing this nation; and third, it provides an important baseline which can be used to prioritize and direct resources, as well as to measure the impact of future initiatives.
South Sudan faces many environmental challenges, including climate change, accelerating deforestation, increased pollution and competition over water. The Government however has demonstrated its commitment to develop and protect its natural resources.
With the presence of oil, minerals, vast fertile land and wildlife, the new nation has the potential to develop in a way that will provide opportunities for its growing population. Moreover, as the Government is developing its new legal and policy frameworks, the country has the unique advantage in that it can incorporate environmental protections into initiatives for economic growth, and strive to develop in a sustainable manner.
UNDP is committed to helping the Republic of South Sudan realize this goal. Aligned with the Government’s objectives, as expressed in the South Sudan Development Plan, the new UN Development Assistance Framework (or UNDAF) for South Sudan better prioritizes environmental management, as does UNDP's new Country Programme being launched this year. We are supporting two initiatives now in South Sudan, the first being support for protected areas management in partnership with the Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the second is a new Environment Governance project which is now being launched with the Ministry of the Environment.
Through this new programme, UNDP South Sudan is committed to deliver longer-term support to the Government to improve understanding and responses to critical environmental concerns regarding natural resource management, climate change and clean energy. This support will focus on providing capacity development support to the Ministry of the Environment, as well as other ministries, in environmental governance and management. UNDP will also strive to support the Government in accessing resources from the international community and environmental funding mechanisms. Presently, as a new country, the Government of South Sudan has a number of opportunities to join multi-lateral environmental agreements which are able to provide the new country with technical advice and financial support.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Ministry on the launching of this important assessment. Environmental protection and stewardship are key to building sustainable economies, fostering peaceful communities and protecting the future for the next generation of South Sudan.