By Ambassador Kairat Umarov
Kazakhstan assumed the chairmanship of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) on 8 January for the period 2020-2021. The following are extensive excerpts from the statement of LLDC Chair Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations in New York, at the First 2020 Meeting of the LLDCs at the Ambassadorial level.
NEW YORK (IDN) – The 32 Landlocked Developing Countries with a combined population of around 509 million face special challenges related to our geographical remoteness, lack of direct access to the sea and isolation from the world trade and economic opportunities, inadequate infrastructure, cumbersome border crossing procedures, structural deficiencies and limited capacities to deal with external shocks as well as climate change.
All of you are perfectly aware of these disadvantages ahead of us. Due to these challenges the LLDCs continue to be vulnerable with limited capacities and dependence on limited commodities for exports.
As we have recently completed the Midterm Review [MTR] of the Vienna Programme of Action [VPoA] last December, assessments from national reports and three regional MTR meetings and consultations, clearly indicate that progress in the last five years was not sufficient to meet the objectives of VPoA or to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
In this respect, […], we need to enhance our common efforts while achieving the goals and targets of the VPoA and the Political Declaration of the Midterm Review. Now being in the second phase of implementing the Vienna Programme and at the start of the Decade of Action for the SDGs, it sets significant tasks for our Bureau and the Group Member States to build on the outcome of the Midterm Review and give a certain impetus to the progress to be achieved.
This year, which is indeed very significant for the UN family celebrating its 75th Anniversary, should become a turning point for an enhanced global dialogue resulting in concrete actions and outcomes to reach Agenda 2030.
The evidence is clear: development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive because rising inequality hinders our long-term growth. Therefore, our Group needs to take advantage of all the relevant processes not to be left behind.
During the LLDCs Chairmanship hand-over ceremony [on 8 January] we have noted several requests to the new Chair to intensify efforts in such areas as involving all interested parties (UN agencies, international financial institutions, transit and developed donor countries) in a more active dialogue on the substantive implementation of the Vienna Programme and the Political Declaration by LLDCs, convening an annual multilateral meeting with the participation of these stakeholders, more active involvement in the work of LLDCs of the International Think Tank for LLDCs, increasing the visibility of the Group in international fora, etc.
As a follow-up to this, today during the briefing by the Secretary-General António Guterres on his 2020 priorities I already noted on behalf of our Group that currently LLDCs are heavily lagging behind their targets for the 17 SDGs and the VPoA. I have brought the attention of the UN Secretariat to the fact that while UN projects are developed on individual country-specific basis, the numerous challenges are transboundary in nature and called for greater consultations, coordination and streamlining within the UN system for more efficient coherence and avoiding duplication.
Thus, we emphasized that for LLDCs, we see it relevant that the UN agencies and the Member States build a new approach of greater regional cooperation to overcome contemporary challenges. This has to be accompanied by robust collaboration among the LLDCs, and between LLDCs and transit developing countries. This obviously has to be also magnified by the invaluable support from other development partners with their ODA channels.
Additionally, strengthened coordination among the UN agencies and their integrated support are highly needed to enable the LLDCs to implement the VPoA and Political Declaration to achieve inclusive sustainable development. In this respect we rely also on support of the UN Secretariat and the Member States to promote this agenda for the sake of our common interests.
Kazakhstan’s Priorities as LLDCs Chair
In this context, as part of a two-year Chairmanship, Kazakhstan intends to actively contribute to the implementation of the VPoA, the Political Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals through enhanced and coordinated cooperation of the Group countries with transit countries, donor countries, UN agencies, representatives of the private sector and academia, international financial institutions and other interested stakeholders.
In this regard, Kazakhstan envisages building the work of the LLDCs Group via more active and concrete regional cooperation, both among LLDCs as well as between our Group and all the interested stakeholders. We see it also appropriate to establish a more efficient dialogue and coordination among the UN agencies themselves to overcome modern challenges affecting LLDCs.
In addition, we see strengthening the implementation by LLDCs of the international legal framework as one of the vital factors for our success. At present, LLDCs are using not the highest possible extent the benefits of the international legal framework (including those on LLDC issues) to which they have already joined. Achieving the objectives of these agreements will contribute to the sustainable development of countries and regions of LLDCs, which will increase the status of the Group.
We also see it important to establish close coordination of the LLDCs with other groups of vulnerable countries (LDCs and SIDS) to further consolidate the unity and solidarity of the three groups as a strong negotiating force in relevant fora, to settle the diverse and unique challenges faced by individual countries of the three groups.
Last but not least, I wish to acknowledge with warmest appreciation the work of H.E. Madam Utoikamanu, High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS and her staff for their commitment to our common cause. Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to the high UN management to consider strengthening the OHRLLS Subprogramme for LLDCs within the necessary resources as requested by the General Assembly in its resolution on budgetary matters adopted in December last year.
Having outlined the main vision of Kazakhstan´s Chairmanship, we are interested in your opinion on the Roadmap as well as the Working schedule.
As you may see our Chairmanship and the Bureau have already started some activities. In particular:
On 6 January, the Chair with the Bureau Member States had a meeting with USG on Economic and Social Affairs Mr. Liu Zhenmin to discuss the opportunities of a coherent cooperation between LLDCs and DESA.
On 13 January I delivered on behalf of our Group a statement at the Briefing by the President of the General Assembly on his main priorities for the resumed part of the 74th GA session in 2020.
On 14 January the Chair and the Bureau met with the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner to discuss the enhanced cooperation with the Programme.
On 15-16 January I have also met together with the OHRLLS Secretariat representatives with the Global Directors of the World Bank on Trade and on Transport, while considering the opportunity for the World Bank to participate in the Ministerial Conference on Trade in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan as well as in the Ministerial Conference on Transport in Awaza, Turkmenistan this year.
On 17 January we also met with the Head of EU delegation, Ambassador Olof Skoog to discuss possible ways for streamlining the future cooperation with our Group.
Today, as I have already mentioned, I delivered a statement on behalf of our Group highlighting the need to equally address the specific challenges of the LLDCs during the briefing by the Secretary-General on his 2020 priorities.
As the next follow-up activities, I plan to visit Geneva to take part in the 69th session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board on 5-7 February. During that stay we are also planning to meet with several UN agencies (UNCTAD, International Trade Centre, WTO and others) with respect to such key areas for our countries as trade diversification and facilitation, transport infrastructure, ICT access and others.
On 11 February we would like to propose to organize an interactive dialogue of the Group with Professor Jeffrey Sachs from the Columbian University, who is a profound specialist on LLDCs issues. We are interested in your views and any proposals for this meeting agenda as well as additional key speakers (to propose DESA and UNDP).
Outlining the major meetings for LLDCs for this year, I should mention the following events:
- Ministerial meeting of LLDCs on Transport to be held on 26-27 March in Awaza, Turkmenistan;
- Second Global UN Conference on Sustainable Transport to be held on 6-7 May in Beijing, China;
- Ministerial meeting of LLDCs on Trade to be held on 7 June and followed by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held on 8-11 June in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan;
- Annual Ministerial LLDCs Meeting in September in New York and many others.
At the end of the year we plan to highlight the main outcomes and progress achieved during 2020.
To conclude, our Chairmanship envisages detailed tentative calendar for the first three months in advance and would like to continue in the same fashion throughout the year.
I would like to reiterate Kazakhstan’s consistent and committed partnership to the UN family and especially the LLDCs developing partners. In its capacity of the new Chair, Kazakhstan will spare no effort to revitalize the cooperation between our Group and all the interested stakeholders, including respective UN agencies, international financial institutions, private sector and academia.
We will work hard to enable our Group to do its very best for our common future. In this vein, I would also like to emphasize the importance of all Member States to participate in these comprehensive processes. We shall rely in turn on our Group so we together can live up to the expectations of the people we serve. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 February 2020]
Photo: Kazakh Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Chair of the LLDCs Group, speaking at at the Ambassadorial level First 2020 Meeting of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries on 22 January. Credit: Kazakhstan Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.
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