Friday, May 27, 2011

Bahrain: UN says Bahrain nears its international targets for human development

SOURCE Gulf Daily News

As Bahrain nears its international targets for human development, the country should expand its Millennium Development Goals while incorporating the Economic Vision 2030 plan, says UN Resident Coordinator Sayed Aqa. If accomplished, Bahrain would be the first Arab country to meet its current targets and upgrade its Millennium Development Goals, according to Gulf Daily News..

"Bahrain has met almost all of the international goals and standards with the exception of environment and women and we are proceeding there," he said. "All goals should be upscaled and additional goals for Bahrain should be put according to the vision and government plans to make Bahrain an example in the region because no Arab country has done what we call MDG plus or upscale MDG targets."

During Aqa's tenure, Bahrain improved in categories such as human rights, women's empowerment, political development and trade. Successful initiatives like trade negotiation programs for the Industry and Commerce Ministry, Free Trade Agreements, UNDP capacity development and strategic planning, and information management programs for parliament and the Shura Council have led to the country's progress. In addition, Bahrain has seen success in microfinance and NGO training.

"The most significant achievement I would say is that as a result of that pilot program now two banks have been created in Bahrain, the Family Bank and Ebdaa Bank," he said. "They both now give loans to small business and that is a result of the success, so now we can reduce our engagement and have a true national process."

While environmental standards have yet to be met, the government is working to reach these goals and increase awareness of environmental conservation, which is a foreign concept to the general public.

"There are the government policies [that] can do certain things, but people can do a lot," Sayed Aqa said.

Aqa, who will be leaving Bahrain for UN headquarters in New York, cited the human rights program as one of the most meaningful achievements during his time in Bahrain.

"The program on human rights that we had with the Foreign Affairs Ministry was a ground breaking initiative because Bahrain was the first country to be reviewed and no previous experiences and our program became a global model for other countries," Mr. Aqa said.