UN chiefs, Bangladesh Prime Minister lead call for recommitment to help least developed countries
19 January 2010
Bangkok (UN ESCAP Information Services) -- The top United Nations official in Asia and the Pacific and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh today led a call for greater commitment in assisting the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) in reaching various development goals set a decade ago.
Their appeal came at a high-level UN meeting in Dhaka , Bangladesh , where ministers and senior government officials from15 LDCs are meeting through Wednesday to assess and develop a regional position for Asia and the Pacific ahead of a global review next year in Turkey on progress made in assisting LDCs.
Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), noted that LDCs were hard-hit by the recent global food, fuel and financial crises, which threatened to roll back their development gains.
Despite those challenges, Dr. Heyzer said, there were recent trends and events that created space for LDCs to realize their full development potential. She urged a rebalancing of Asian economies to find new engines of growth, and noted that poverty reduction and social protection schemes had the potential to create “millions of new consumers” to create additional aggregate demand for sustaining development in the region.
She emphasized greater connectivity among countries of the Asia-Pacific region to create new markets, and endorsed more cooperation among countries of the South to sustain growth and development in the region’s LDCs. She also highlighted the need for financial assistance provided by donors, such as the commitments made by the G20, and underscored the necessity of monitoring them to ensure that the pledges reached their intended recipients.
Participants at the three-day meeting are also seeking to identify key issues requiring global and regional cooperation to further advance the objectives of the 2001-2010 Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA). That programme seeks “to make substantial progress toward halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015 and promote the sustainable development of the LDCs.”
In her inaugural address, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh said since the Brussels plan was adopted, nine years have passed “with not very inspiring achievements.” She said next year in Istanbul, LDCs must address a host of systemic issues in a “holistic manner” and “find ways to insulate themselves from adverse and negative external factors” such as the food, fuel and financial crises.
Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the triple crises showed just how fragile LDC economies remain, and the extent of the damage caused demonstrated that nearly a decade of otherwise reasonable economic growth had not done enough to change the fundamental weaknesses of those countries.
He noted that the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs next year was an opportunity for LDCs, development partners, and all stakeholders “to forge a clear vision, based on universal values, moral and ethical imperatives, and the requirements of fairness and equity, to enable the 800 million people in LDCs get out of poverty and onto the path to sustainable development.”
Also addressing the opening session were Finance Minister Abul Mal A Muhith of Bangladesh, Sela Molisa, Minister of Finance and Economic Management of Vanuatu, and Surendra Pandey, Minister of Finance of Nepal and Representative of the Chair of the LDC Group.
On Monday ministers from eight LDCs took part in a ministerial-level exchange, followed by discussions on issues and concerns related to reducing poverty and hunger by promoting sustainable and inclusive development in the LDCs; promoting food security through sustainable agriculture; and enhancing the share of LDCs in global trade, aid and financial flows and promoting their productive capacity. Talks will also look at protecting the environment and reducing the vulnerability of the LDCs to climate change, and developing human and institutional capacities to support inclusive and sustainable development of the LDCs.
The 14 LDCs in the Asia-Pacific region for the purposes of Brussels review include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Yemen , the lone LDC in the Middle East , is also participating in the meeting.
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