UNDP and Government of Tonga reaffirmed partnerships with signing of SBAA

28 Jan 2013

(Nuku’alofa, Tonga) - The Standard Basic Assistance Agreement (SBAA) was signed by the Prime Minister, Lord Tu'ivakano and the UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Knut Ostby, defining cooperation arrangements between the Government of Tonga and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Standard Basic Assistance Agreement (SBAA) has been developed as an international treaty to be signed between individual programme countries and the UNDP. It outlines standard procedures relating to the implementation of UNDP projects and programmes agreed to between the UNDP and Government counterparts.  The Agreement establishes a framework for the work of UNDP as an organization, the work of UNDP officials, and for the projects established under UNDP auspices.

In 1971, Tonga signed its Standard Agreement on Operational Assistance with the UNDP. Today's signing of the SBAA establishes more clarity for the role and status of the UNDP projects. It makes it clear that all projects need to be based on requests from Government, and recognizes national ownership.

In signing this SBAA, Tonga has now joined 142 other member States in having this standard treaty established for UNDP's projects and operations in the country.

At the conclusion of the signing ceremony, UNDP Resident Representative Knut Ostby thanked the Lord Prime Minister and His Majesty's Cabinet for approving the Agreement. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also been instrumental in making this possible.

Since the establishment of UNDP programmes in Tonga more than 40 years ago, UNDP has implemented programmes in support of national priorities in a range of areas including social and economic sectors, governance, environment, disaster risk reduction and others. It is now embarking on a new programme cycle 2013-2017, and this will focus on four key strategic areas of assistance to the Government of Tonga.  These are Poverty Reduction & Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); Good Government & Human Rights; Crisis Prevention & Recovery and fourthly, Environment and Sustainable Management.

Among key programmes expected to be launched in the near future are the Tonga Ridge to Reef programme working in the environment sector, the Pacific Risk Reduction Programme on disaster risk, and the Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme, working with Parliament, the Election Commission and civil society.

UNDP also assigns high priority to cooperation and coordination among UN agencies. The UNDP office in Tonga, established in 2011, is now upgraded to a Joint Presence with participation of UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women.

Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communicati0ns, Nuku'alofa, 2013.