Statement at the LDCs Ministerial Meeting, 29 September 2009
Your Excellency, Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PeoplesRepublic of Bangladesh and Chair of the LDCs Coordination Group,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to New York for this Ministerial meeting of least developed countries, taking place in conjunction with the Sixty fourth session of the General Assembly.
I would like to thank you, Mme Chairperson, for your leadership in putting LDC concerns on the international development agenda, not only here at the United Nations but also at other fora such the World Trade Organisation and others.
The global economic landscape has changed considerably since we last met in New York exactly a year ago. The global financial crisis which was unfolding then, was mainly felt in the financial sectors of the most advanced economies, as LDC’s limited integration into the global financial system served to insulate them from the first round effects of the crisis. However, since then, the ripple effect of the crisis has been felt across the developing world, including the LDCs.
The impact of the crisis on LDCs has been felt mainly through falling exports, reduced investment inflows, remittances and declining tourism receipts.
The confluence of food and financial crisis constitute a setback for the least developed countries, and endangers the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals, including those of the Programme of Action for LDCs for the decade 2001-2010.
Prior to the current global financial and economic crisis, LDCs showed improved economic performance, with real GDP growth averaging over 6 % per annum over the period 2001-2007. Gains, albeit modest have been recorded in several Millennium Development Goals, including primary education and gender equality. A large number of LDCs are also prioritizing good governance. However, progress in other MDG targets, most notably child and maternal mortality and hunger has been disappointing. Moreover, the severity and persistence of poverty remains a serious challenge in LDCs.
Since the BPOA constitutes a partnership between the least developed countries and their development partners, let me now turn to the international dimension of the partnership.
The international environment has been largely supportive of LDCs development for the large part of the decade. FDI to the least developed countries increased noticeably, and this has enabled them to exploit their comparative advantage in natural resources. We have also seen unprecedented increase in official development assistance (ODA) to the least developed countries, enabling them to fund critical areas of their development. Furthermore, debt relief through both HIPC and MDRI has freed resources for development and poverty reduction. While this is welcome, ODA to LDC is below the 0.7 % GNI target set by the United Nations and many donors are off-track in meeting their aid pledges made at Gleneagles and other international fora.
Despite all the measures undertaken by themselves and their development partners, LDCs still suffer from a number of structural constraints that militate against their sustained growth, development and structural transformation, which are all critical to sustained poverty reduction. Weak productive capacities and limited diversification as well underdeveloped agricultural sector are some of the impediments to LDCs long-term development, which render them vulnerable to external shocks.
These vulnerabilities have been particularly heightened by the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. Owing to their narrow production base, least developed countries are disproportionately hit by the collapse in world trade. Decline in private and capital flows, coupled with falling remittances and tourism receipts have left LDCs with inadequate resources for their development.
Although some are predicting global recovery as early as next year, there is no doubt that the effects of the crisis on LDCs will linger for years, if not decades. Therefore international support for LDCs should not only focus on recovery, THOUGH that is extremely important, but also strive to at lay the foundation for sustained economic growth and development. This calls for prioritizing productive capacity development, agricultural development and facilitating structural transformation. The overarching objective should be to support LDCs reduce poverty and achieve the MDGs. Better alignment of resources behind these priorities is vitally important.
Equally important is the need to address the climate change challenge.
Around the globe, weather patterns are shifting, temperatures are climbing, and sea levels are rising. Climate change is real and is affecting all of us. The LDCs are particularly vulnerable to climate change, even though they contribute least to global warming. That’s why it is crucially important to provide adequate financial resources to LDCs for climate change adaptation and mitigation. This must be accompanied by technology transfer to LDCs so as to enable them to green their growth and development. We are three months away from Copenhagen to conclude negotiations for a new climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. It is imperative that you participate actively in this process to ensure that your voices are heard. This is the only way that you can secure your interests. As you are aware, climate change is a signature issue for the United Nations Secretary-General, and the UN will be there to support you in this important endeavor.
Without trying to prejudge the outcome of the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs, I believe that these priorities should form a central plank of the next programme of action for LDC for the decade 2011-2020.
The post-Brussels Programme of Action for LDCs should also look beyond traditional partners and bring to bear a much broader and deeper set of forces to address the myriad of development challenges bedeviling the LDCs.Over the last several years we have seen the United Nations forged partnerships with multi-stakeholders, including private sector, NGOs and philanthropic organizations, which have had a significant positive impact on health outcomes, especially HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The next programme of action for LDCs must build on this innovation.
Allow me to update you on the progress in the preparation for the Conference.
As you may recall, the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 63/227 designated my Office as the focal point for the fourth United Nations Conference on LDCs, to mobilize and coordinate UN system-wide support to the preparation and organization of the Conference.
I am happy to report that we have made progress in the preparation for the Conference since we last met at the ministerial level in September last year. My Office has prepared a Concept Note and a roadmap to facilitate the intergovernmental, regional and national preparations; and to ensure the active involvement of all stakeholders in the preparatory process. The concept note provides the organizational approach, mandates and specific activities to be undertaken in the preparation for the Conference at the country, regional and global levels. The concept note and the roadmap were endorsed by the interagency meeting of the UN agencies and other international organizations.
Steps have also been taken for the organization of national and regional reviews. My Office is working with UNDP Resident Coordinators in supporting LDCs in the preparation and organization of country-reviews.As you may be aware, country and regional reviews are important inputs to the Conference. In this regard, I urge all the LDCs to prepare comprehensive reports on the implementation of the BPOA, highlighting achievements, challenges, lessons learnt as well as what you think should be the priorities for the next programme of action for LDCs.
Just recently, to strengthen the capacity of national focal points to undertake country reviews, my Office organized a workshop for LDCs national focal points during the ECOSOC session in Geneva this past July. We are encouraged by the level of commitments and enthusiasm shown by the national focal points towards this undertaking.
With respect to regional review, my Office is working with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in the preparation of regional review meetings. The regional review will be convened next year in the context of the commissions’ session.
We have also drawn up a list of pre-conference events that will be sponsored by the UN agencies on priority themes of relevance to LDCs. The objective of the pre-conference event is to raise the visibility of the Conference and to draw the world’s attention to the challenges facing LDCs. I must say I am happy with the level of commitment and enthusiasm shown by UN system agencies toward the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs. Most UN agencies have designated focal points for the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs, who will have the overall responsibilities for planning, mobilizing and coordinating the efforts of their respective organizations to the substantive and organizational preparations for the Conference. Some agencies are already taking steps to organize pre-conference events within areas of their expertise and mandate.
The pre-conference events and other preparatory processes will accord us the opportunity not only to raise awareness of the Conference, BUT more importantly to focus the attention of the international community on the acute vulnerabilities of LDCs, which are recognized as the most vulnerable entities of the international community.
You would agree with me that civil society’s involvement is vital to the success of the Conference. In this regard, my Office has already consulted widely with NGO and civil society representatives, both in-country as well as at the international level. The purpose of this was to extend our assurance that we expect their involvement and quality input into the debate in the lead-up to the Conference. Following a series of these discussions, a structure for the civil society track was proposed, which allows ample opportunity for their engagement . More recently, my Office undertook the opportunity during ECOSOC to brief the civil society presence in Geneva on our preparations thus far in order to ensure maximum involvement.
We are also working with the Inter-Parliamentary Union to mobilize parliamentary support to the national reviews. In this regard, we have just published a joint guide on “mobilizing parliamentary support for the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries”, which has been distributed to all the LDCs parliaments and national LDC focal points.
The 64th session of the General Assembly will consider important substantive and organizational issues for LDC IV, including the venue and date for the Conference as well as the intergovernmental preparatory committee for the Conference. Your active participation in this and other preparatory events are critical for ensuring a successful Conference. Because, the success of Conference as measured by its outcome hinges crucially on its preparation at all levels, national, regional and global.
I will therefore encourage your missions to participate actively in these meetings.
Let us work to ensure that LDC IV deliver on development for the Least Developed Countries.