Cotonou, 5 August 2002
It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all who have gathered for this Ministerial Meeting of the Least Developed Countries. The people and Government of Benin merit our gratitude for organizing this session and for carrying forward the cause of the LDCs.
More than a year has passed since the adoption of the Brussels Programme of Action for the LDCs. That programme provides a framework for a strong global partnership to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development, and to enable the LDCs to integrate themselves into the global economy. And it is based on mutual commitments by LDCs and their development partners to undertake concrete actions with quantifiable and time-bound targets. The most important task now is to build capacity, both human and institutional, so that the people of the LDCs can seize the opportunities offered by the Brussels Programme, and become not just the beneficiaries of change, but the agents of it.
The United Nations family remains strongly committed to helping the LDCs to overcome the formidable obstacles to their development. Special efforts are being made throughout the UN system, particularly in follow-up to UN conferences, to ensure that the needs and concerns of LDCs are a central part of decision-making. The General Assembly established the Office of the High Representative to ensure the best possible coordination and monitoring. And the global campaign that I have launched to achieve the Millennium Development Goals focuses in particular on the needs of the LDCs.
The challenges faced by LDCs are immense but not insurmountable. Given determination, an enabling environment and political will, LDCs should be able to make headway. South-South cooperation provides still-untapped potential, particularly in the areas of agriculture, energy and information technologies. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which like the Brussels programme highlights the importance of governance and capacity-building, likewise offers promise. And several countries, including those of the European Union, have improved market access for LDC exports.
I hope all LDCs and their development partners, as well as civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders, will forge partnerships that will make the difference between success and stagnation. This ministerial meeting can help articulate a road-map of implementation that will respond to the aspirations of the peoples of the LDCs, who make up one tenth of humankind. In that spirit of solidarity, please accept my best wishes for the success of your deliberations.
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