It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you all to this Workshop. I would particularly like to extend a warm greeting to the delegates who have travelled from their capitals.
Our meeting today is very important for the preparations of the meeting in the week ahead of us as well as the remaining preparations for the Istanbul Conference until May this year. Your thoughtful ideas and constructive suggestions will provide substantive backstopping for your negotiators towards a successful Istanbul outcome.
There has been significant development since we met in our first Workshop held in January this year. I would like to provide you with an updates on where we stand in terms of substantive and organizational preparations for the Conference.
The negotiations on Istanbul Programme of Action have been going on; I would say “slowly but steadily”. The second reading of the draft has been concluded last week. There is a broad consensus on the enormity of challenges that LDCs have been facing. However, the development partners are yet to come up with a commensurate level of international support measures for LDCs. Divergence among the negotiating groups is still wide on key proposals on the table. Nevertheless, the positive thing is that all parties are fully engaged in the process and seem to have good wills to continue the process. I am sure, as we move forward, the views and understandings of various groups and negotiators will converge. I am not going into further specifics, as you will hear from your negotiator, the status of negotiation from both substantive and political angles.
Since January, a number of thematic pre-conference events have taken place and have delivered key policy recommendations for the Outcome of the Istanbul Conference. Let me highlight some of the important events organised by my office individually or in collaboration with other partners, in recent months.
The Government of India in collaboration with my office organized a Ministerial Meeting on “Harnessing the Positive Contribution of South-South Cooperation for LDCs’ Development” from 18-19 February 2011. My office prepared two background papers for this meeting: one setting out the special needs and vulnerabilities of LDCs and the other scoping the new context and quantum leap in South-South Cooperation and the potential of such cooperation for LDC development now and in terms of a 2020 vision for it.
During the Meeting, the Government of India announced additional support measures to LDCs. (This includes First: an additional 5 scholarships every year for each LDC, Secondly: A special fund of US$5 million over the next five years for the follow-up to the Istanbul Programme of Action, and Finally: US$500 million credit line facility over the next five years for LDCs.)
UN-OHRLLS and UNFCCC hosted a Pre-Conference Event on ‘Reducing Vulnerability due to Climate Change, Climate Variability and Extremes, Land Degradation and Biodiversity Loss: Environment and Development Challenges and Opportunities for LDCs’ in February this year in New York. At the meeting convergence emerged on a number of issues, such as:
• Strengthening the capacity and resources of LDCs to mitigate, adapt to and reduce vulnerability to climate change, climate change variability, natural disasters, and land degradation.
• Coping with and building resilience to climate change through mainstreaming resilience in development agendas, programmes and processes.
• The need for effective green technology transfer including tapping sources of renewable energy. .
The pre-Conference event entitled “Science, Technology and Innovation: Setting Priorities, Shaping and Implementing Policies for LDCs” was held in Istanbul, Turkey on 7-8 February 2011.
The idea of a Global Facility for STI development in LDCs was broached with the aim of helping LDCs access and absorb critical technologies.
The Turkish Government offered to host such a facility in Istanbul.
My office, in collaboration with UNESCO, UNIDO, UNICEF and UNDESA, organized a pre-conference event on Promoting Universal Access to Essential Services in New York on 10 March 2011. The debate focused on four specific themes, namely education, energy, health and water & sanitation.
The following suggestions came up during the meeting:
(i) Adopting incentive measures that would attract entrepreneurs to invest in providing essential services;
(ii) Creating an enabling environment that is conducive to SMEs delivering essential services at an appropriate and affordable cost;
(iii) Decentralization of services as a way to address the disparities that have emerged in LDCs between the rural and urban dwellers, with the rural dwellers missing out on infrastructure and facilities as well as access to the essential services;
(iv) Adopting new technologies;
(v) Implementing good business models as a factor that can promote access to essential services in LDCs.
( I see no mention of any role for the State. Is this possible?)
This year, one of the themes of the special high-level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and the UNCTAD was designated to be “Financial support for development efforts of Least Developed Countries: development finance, including innovative mechanisms, aid for trade and debt relief”. This meeting was held from 10-11 March 2011 in New York. The Meeting underscored that persisting weakness in the productive capacities of LDCs and the slow progress towards the MDGs, coupled with some common failings of LDC-specific measures, called for a new generation of more holistic, integrated and practical international support mechanisms that would focus on developing the productive capacities in LDCs.
The World Intellectual Property Organization organized a pre-Conference Forum entitled “Building a Knowledge Base for Innovation and Creativity to Promote Development” in Geneva from 14 to 15 February 2011. It was acknowledged that the approach of the Director General of WIPO offered a new alternative for development, using innovation and creativity as a tool for tackling problems related to technological capacity building and the overall development problems of LDCs.
The ministers and participants strongly recommended that the following WIPO deliverables should be presented at the Fourth United Nations Conference on LDCs for consideration and approval by Ministers. The list is not exhaustive:
(i) Improved access to knowledge and strengthened knowledge infrastructure;
(ii) Establishment of technology and innovation support centers (TISCs);
(iii) Strategic use of branding;
(iv) Enhanced support for documentation, digitization, protection and commercialization of IP assets including Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expressions and Genetic Resources.
The President of the General Assembly organized an event on “investment in and financing productive capacities in LDCs”, which highlighted the need for economic diversification, investment in agriculture, and fair trade as the three planks needed to accelerate progress.
The International Telecommunications Union organized a pre-conference event entitled “Digital Inclusion for LDCs: Innovation, Growth, Sustainability” in Geneva from 8 to 9 March 2011
My Office and ILO convened a policy dialogue to present a new ILO report, entitled “Growth, Productive Employment and Decent Work in the LDCs”. The report suggested that employment grew at a mere 2.9 percent from 2000-2009 and the majority of workers in LCDs remain trapped in vulnerable forms of employment that cannot lift them from the poverty line.
The Mission of France organized an event on ‘Tackling the Vulnerability of LDCs’, where the idea was broached that the allocation of aid should take the vulnerability of LDCs into account. Maldives had organised a seminar, where the needs of graduating and graduated countries for enhanced smooth transition measures including from the UN were highlighted.
As you are aware, the Secretary-General appointed a Group of Eminent Persons in August last year to examine obstacles faced by LDCs to their economic progress and to recommend a new paradigm for transforming the least developed countries. Their report has just been submitted to the Secretary General and published last week. The Group has reached a conclusion that given the long-standing and wide-spread challenges faced by LDCs, business-as-usual will not work. They are also of the view that “unless we address the structural weaknesses that make these countries least developed, we will not reverse their increasing marginalisation.”
The Secretary General’s report on the 10 year appraisal of the implementation of the BPoA has also been published recently.
I would like to present to you the structure and some highlights of the Istanbul Summit. As you know, the Conference will be organized around four interrelated tracks, namely the Inter-governmental track; the Parliamentary track, the Civil society track and the Private sector track.
The inaugural ceremony of the Conference will be held on Monday, 9 May. After the opening of the Conference, the intergovernmental track will proceed with the General Debate, the Committee of the Whole and High-Level Interactive Thematic Debates. Member States have already agreed on the six themes for the thematic debates.
Furthermore, the UN system organization, Member States, regional groups and other relevant stakeholders will organize over 40 special events related to LDC-specific priority areas that aim to produce concrete deliverables for LDCs during the Conference.
The Parliamentary track of the Conference will consist of a Parliamentary Forum, to be held on Sunday, 8 May. The Forum will bring together 150 - 200 members of parliament attending the LDC IV Conference, from LDCs as well as non-LDCs, to ensure parliamentary participation in the implementation and review of the new programme of action for the Least Developed Countries.
The Civil Society track of the Conference will take place from 7 to 13 May. Organized by Civil Society organizations, it will include a Civil Society Forum, seminars, workshops and strategy sessions as well as the screening of films and an exhibition.
UNLDC-IV will, for the first time, feature a broad participation of the private sector and in this way seek to identify concrete, action-oriented proposals addressing LDC-specific problems and challenges in the area of investment, enterprise development, trade and finance. The Private Sector Track will include three components:
i. Global Business Partnership Forum, from 9-13 May 2011
ii. High-Level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships on 9 May 2011, and
iii. Trade Fair from 9-13 May 2011
Before I conclude, I would like to particularly underscore that the highest level participation from LDCs and their development partners in Conference will be an important benchmark for the success of Conference. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is fully engaged in ensuring the success of the UNLDC IV Conference including by drawing the highest level of participation both from Member States as well as the UN agencies and other relevant international organizations. He has written a letter to the G20 members to highlight the importance of their participation at UNLDC IV.
My office and my self are also working hard to secure the highest level participation from each country. I have embarked on a vigorous advocacy campaign to ensure highest level of participation. I would strongly encourage you to proceed with the accreditation of your delegation through UN Protocol.
As you may be aware, the host country Turkey would cover the participation of up 11 delegates from each LDCs which would include HOS or HOG plus four government officials or three government officials if the delegation is headed by a Minister, 1 member of parliament, 2 civil society representatives, 2 private sector representatives and 1 representative from the media. The deadline for submission of the delegation is 8 April. I would urge all of you to send your delegation before the deadline for smooth arrangements of travel, accommodation and other logistical support for your delegation.
In conclusion, I wish you all a pleasant stay in New York and a highly productive meeting today and coming days.
I thank you for your kind attention.