Statement by Ms. Najat Rochdi, UN Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon at the “MEET IMPACT” Event.
Your Excellency Ambassador Collard,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you in this pioneering event, to jointly shed light on the spectacular successes of the work of the Central Inspection and the IMPACT team amid very limited resources and an unprecedented multi-faceted crisis that is weighing heavily on the country, but mostly on the people of Lebanon.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the significance and relevance of technology, innovation, and science for human health and survival like never before. Not only has the vaccine been provided in record time, but the crisis has also boosted health and digital communications and innovation and prompted Lebanon to move towards digitalization.
Beyond COVID-19, these advancements and the remarkable successes of the IMPACT team hold potential for preventing and resolving other problems, including governance challenges, inequities, as well as the digital gap. So, allow me to congratulate Lebanon’s Central Inspection and the IMPACT Team for their relentless work in the past few years, for being an exemplary oversight body, and for adopting new innovative ways that foster transparency and efficiency through digital transformation. These administrative reforms will undoubtedly help crackdown on corruption, criminalize wrongdoers, and do future business based on fair competition, transparency, and good governance.
Today’s event is also a great opportunity to commend the outstanding work of the Central Inspection, under the Leadership of Mr. George Attieh, which was guided by a clear vision for change, for reform, for proper use of financial and human resources, and for modernizing the structure and functions of public administration, all of which were reflected in a 2017-developed CI strategy.
The IMPACT Open Data website is one of these successful initiatives spearheaded by the Central Inspection, which has driven change towards more open, credible, and accessible data to all… A platform that is built on the close collaboration and coordination among different municipalities and ministries, which succeeded in generating groundbreaking modules, such as the “COVID-19 vaccine” module, without which Lebanon would not have been able to successfully vaccinate over 30% of its population in an orderly and systematic manner. Two other examples of resourceful modules are the “Rural Development” module that maps out the socio-economic conditions of Lebanese towns and villages according to specific indicators, and the “Daem social safety” module, which is currently being used to register and manage the distribution of aid and cash assistance to Lebanese households in need under the World Bank ESSN project (Emergency Crisis and Covid-19 Response Social Safety Net).
Going forward, the Central Inspection has a crucial role to play in developing a Social Registry that is vital to link between all databases and help properly manage the different social assistance programs and the extension of services to the most vulnerable people, as delineated in the National Social Protection Strategy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Corruption has always been the main obstacle to Lebanon’s development and fighting it was at the forefront of the 2019 popular protests’ demands. Its persistence has been affecting all of us, decision-makers, humanitarians, partners, and donors, and so fighting it should unite us all!
I do believe that through the steady work of the Central Inspection and the IMPACT Team, and with a strong political will to move ahead with reforms, Lebanon’s reputation will be restored as a role model in the Arab region and the country will regain its strong public institutions earned in the wake of independence.
Therefore, fostering a culture of transparency, integrity, accountability, and rule of law will surely help Lebanon embark on a new path of justice and strong institutions and achieve a prosperous future. And for that, I hereby reiterate the UN’s commitment to continue providing support and technical assistance to Lebanon’s public institutions and oversight bodies to boost the performance of the public administration and maximize its results.
As technology continues to blaze new trails of hope, we also commit to offering unflagging support to the Central Inspection’s digital transformation process. We also hope that this success story in e-governance and digitalization in Lebanon can be replicated and leveraged in other public institutions.
As the people of Lebanon continue to face difficult times and endure considerable hardships, there is a reason for hope: Hope for a reinvigorated public administration… Hope for fully empowered public institutions that harness the full potential of technology and Lebanon’s human capital… and a fervent hope for transformational change that embraces a new social contract. This new social contract will give the people the opportunity to shape Lebanon’s future and to make sure that their concerns and needs are addressed. It will provide a binding force of mutual rights and duties between the Lebanese State and the Lebanese society at large, where transparency, accountability, and citizenship are at the heart of this mutual commitment.
The power of digitalization cannot be overlooked or underestimated in this venture. It is one of the greatest allies for preventing and tackling corruption, a key requirement to achieve a social contract, and a great opportunity to improve public service delivery and efficiency, enhance transparency and accountability, and boost citizen participation and trust.
Let us join forces in harnessing the incredible potential of digital transformation to deliver on our promise of achieving Lebanon’s sustainable recovery on all fronts.
Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator