United Nations, 28 June: After five years as the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who is stepping down tomorrow, urged the media to step up its attention on the needs of “voiceless” developing countries when dealing with cyclones, floods, prolonged droughts and other environmental effects of climate change.
Addressing correspondents at a press conference at the United Nations this afternoon, the High Representative warned that the United Nations development agenda would lose credibility if those countries -- who were among the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change -- were to be sidelined in the climate change debate.
A high-level meeting on the subject is scheduled to take place at the United Nations in September, and consultations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol are slated to kick off in Bali, Indonesia, at year’s end.
Mr. Chowdhury said that, earlier in the day, he had presented Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with a report on The Impact of Climate Change on the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, which was published by his Office. Accompanied by the Chairmen of the Small Island States Group and Least Developed Countries Group, he had later launched the same report to the wider United Nations diplomatic community.
“Though their cause needs urgent attention, somehow, because of their smallness, structural difficulties and their own inadequacies, their voice does not get heard,” he said.
Reflecting on his tenure as High Representative from 2002 to 2007, Mr. Chowdhury said he was satisfied with the level of awareness raised by his Office regarding the plight of poor nations. During that time, agreement had been obtained from at least one major newspaper in each of the 50 least developed countries to provide running commentary on the United Nations Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries, a framework for partnership between those countries and their development partners created in 2001.
Despite a small budget and a team of only 10 professionals, he said the Office had been able to monitor the implementation of that and two other programmes of action directed at least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States -- the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries, and the Mauritius Strategy for the further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
To promote trade, the Office helped to secure duty- and quota-free access for goods from Least Developed Countries to markets in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union. Those goods almost always had access to Japanese and United States markets.
Since the Office was created, he added, United Nations funds and programmes had begun devoting more than half their resources to Least Developed Countries. Years of advocacy by the Office had resulted in the flow of official development assistance to least developed nations, rising to around $23 billion, or about a quarter of the amount regularly given out by wealthy donor countries.
However, he stressed that much needed to be done to help poor countries adapt to climate change, while minimizing their own contributions to environmental damage through over-reliance on biomass fuels like firewood.
Recently, the Office made a strong push for a risk insurance fund to help Caribbean and Pacific island nations cope with the aftermath of catastrophic hurricanes. Some $47 million had been pledged to the Caribbean Risk Insurance Facility in February, which he said was a “wonderful experience in forging partnerships” with other multilateral bodies.
Mr. Chowdhury told correspondents that, while serving as Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United Nations, he had been responsible for proposing that the year 2005 be designated the International Year of Microcredit. The first General Assembly resolution on the role of microcredit for poverty eradication had also been his initiative.
Asked if there were any plans to partner with fellow Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus to promote the use of microcredit, Mr. Chowdhury admitted having had conversations with the Grameeen Bank founder about spreading microcredit to the world. “But I have not responded to him yet.”
He added that it was important to continue speaking up for least developed, landlocked developing and small island developing States.
For further information, please contact Derrick E. Bwalya, Information Officer, United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. Tel: (917) 367-2471. Email: email@example.com. Website: http://www.un.org/ohrlls/