Your Excellency President Konare, Co-chair of the Eminent Persons Group,
Your Excellency President Wolfensohn, Co-chair of the Eminent Persons Group,
Sir Fazle Ahmed Abed,
Sir Richard Jolly,
Dr. Louis Kasekende,
Commissioner and Minister Michel,
Let me express my sincere gratitude to all of you for taking the time to join us in this first meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons for the Least Developed Countries. The Secretary General wanted to be here right from the beginning of your meeting but unfortunately, due to other commitments, he will only be able to attend at 11:15 this morning. Given that this is only a one-day meeting, we decided to start early.
The other members of the Group of Eminent Persons, Mr.Kemal Dervis and Mr. Hiromasa Yonekura send their apologies for not being able to attend, but have asked to be kept informed. Ms Nancy Birdsall will be joining us by video conference in the afternoon.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is calling on you to advocate for, raise awareness and garner solidarity on behalf of the 49 LDCs with a population of more than 800 million people. Fifty percent of them live in extreme poverty. These countries are at the very epicentre of the development emergency.
A separate categorisation for the LDCs was first advocated at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1964. The category was formally approved by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1971.
Three United Nations Conferences took place in 1981, 1991 and 2001, to mobilize global support for the development of the LDCs. The 2001 conference was held in Brussels and adopted the 10-year Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA), setting out seven commitments, thirty goals and five guiding principles that the LDCs and their development partners undertook to implement.
The Brussels Programme is now coming to an end therefore the UN General Assembly has decided to convene the Fourth United Nations Conference for the Least Developed Countries, LDC-IV. Turkey has generously offered to host this Conference from May 30 to June 3, 2011 in Istanbul.
LDC-IV will be a landmark development summit and an opportunity for fresh thinking. It will be pivotal in shaping the global partnership for development for the next decade and beyond. Every country has a stake in its success.
Preparations for LDC IV are well underway and we have been following a bottom-up approach starting from the country level, then going on to the regional level and now we are moving to the global level. Most of the LDCs prepared national reports reviewing the implementation of the Brussels Programme that fed into the regional reviews.
Regional reviews took place for Asia and Pacific and for Africa and Haiti, and both outcome documents were endorsed at their respective ministerial sessions. These have shown that the LDCs and their development partners made considerable efforts to implement the Programme, but it is an unfinished business and much remains to be done. It is also being affirmed that a new reinvigorated partnership is needed for the next decade.
In order to ensure broad participation in the conference, my Office is working with civil society, parliamentarians and the private sector in order to include their views in the new support measures for the LDCs. There will be four distinct tracks of the Istanbul conference, namely the main intergovernmental negotiations, the parliamentary track for members of parliaments, a private sector track and a civil society track.
My Office is also organising a number of thematic pre-conference events, and one of the most important of them, a ministerial meeting on enhancing resource mobilisation for the LDCs, recently took place in Portugal. We also organised a Brainstorming Meeting to identify elements of a possible new programme of action for the LDCs. Two intergovernmental preparatory committee meetings will take place in January and April next year here in New York, to begin discussions on the organisational and substantive aspects of LDC-IV.
As a result of all these activities we have a sound analytical and political basis to lay a firm foundation for a programme of action that is comprehensive, focussed, ambitious, results-oriented with actionable goals and targets and concrete deliverables. It is clear that the LDCs and their development partners need to massively scale-up their interventions in order to achieve the objectives of accelerated poverty reduction, sustained economic growth and jobs creation; and sustainable and inclusive development.
The new programme of action needs to be aspirational, therefore very comprehensive and ambitious; and inspirational, that is capable of mobilising all stakeholders’ energies and resources towards its implementation. It will be embracing many thematic areas and will involve governments as much as the civil society and private sector. It will cover multiple policy areas on the development agenda including improving national and global governance, adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, World Trade Organisation negotiations; and the ongoing work of the G20 on international financial and macroeconomic reforms, crisis mitigation and resilience building.
We will be looking to you, our Eminent Persons, to provide the intellectual and political justification for such a programme and to provide bankable ideas and proposals that will catch the imagination of all stakeholders in LDCs and their development partners and elicit firm partnership commitments.
We are heading to Istanbul with roughly the same number of LDCs that began the journey in Brussels in 2001. Only Cape Verde in 2007, and Maldives later this year, would have managed to graduate during this period. And since 1971 when the LDC category was established, their numbers have doubled and only one other country, Botswana in 1994, graduated from the Group. This is a clear signal, if any were needed, that we need a programme of action from Istanbul that can be a powerful force-multiplier for LDC development.
We have prepared a background paper on the key messages and have included them in your folders. It points to some of the issues that require your insights and which could form the basis of your recommendations. Let me suggest some key messages that you may wish to persuasively express in your report in order to influence global opinion.
The first clear message is to present a solid case explaining why the LDCs need and deserve the empathy, support and solidarity of the international community. The whole world will benefit if LDC economies are propelled into a virtuous cycle of high growth and income, peace and prosperity, and help with other global objectives such as environmental protection.
The second message is that the new programme of action can not be business as usual. It can not just repeat what was done before. It has to be Brussels plus, with a larger scale and a clear focus on action that truly makes an impact on the ground. It must address all the key priority areas of action and partnership that have been identified by the LDCs and their partners. We will be counting on you to come up with proposals on how to enrich, amplify and leverage the new Programme of Action to build and foster capable States, enterprises and civil society organizations for LDCs’ development.
The third message should define the development paradigm that should underpin the new programme of action as was done by previous programmes. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that development has to be endogenously driven in order to generate inclusive and sustainable growth that leads to accelerated poverty reduction. It has to be based on building productive capacities, strong infrastructure and jobs-creation.
The fourth message you need to give is about the international support measures that should be deployed in priority areas with actionable goals and targets as well as follow up and monitoring mechanisms. Apart from enhancing and significantly bolstering the traditional ODA, trade and debt relief related support measures, there has to be a new generation of such measures. These could range from an Investment Preference Regime for LDCs, mobilising and dedicating innovative sources of financing for LDCs, establishing a crisis mitigation and resilience building fund, launching initiatives to foment an agricultural revolution and food security, supporting productive capacity building initiatives to harness their commodity wealth and human resources reservoir and nurture and grow their enterprises.
You can also propose co-development schemes between home and host countries, through which LDCs can mobilize their diaspora communities. They have historically played catalytic roles in the development of their home countries. LDCs can tap the experience, knowledge, financial capital and technology that many of them have acquired and institute policies that encourage them to trade and invest in their countries of origin. This way they can also reverse brain drain and induce brain gain.
We need your expertise and political capital to substantiate and give credibility to these and other proposals that this eminent Group might deem relevant. We need to get traction on these proposals and other game changing ones like the recognition of the LDC category by the IMF, World Bank and regional development banks and increasing their voice, participation and representation; as well as voice and representation in G20 and other emerging international governance fora. Your recommendations will be crucial in shaping the next programme, but also for influencing and winning over friends and supporters among governments and public opinion.
The LDCs have listed the key priorities that the next programme of action for their development should address which, again you will find in your issues notes. Let me briefly mention some of them.
Firstly, building a critical mass of viable, diversified and competitive productive capacity in agriculture, manufacturing and services, and enabling infrastructure. This is a key to employment generation, sustainable poverty reduction and future and economic structural transformation.
Secondly, fomenting an agricultural revolution to eliminate hunger, ensure food security and promote rural development is crucial.
Thirdly, the importance of mobilizing sufficient additional and enhanced domestic and international financial resources, especially ODA, FDI, debt relief, innovative sources of finance, which is lifeblood for LDC development.
Fourth, national and international policies for improving access to technology at affordable prices and strengthening research and development of science and technology.
Fifth, the need for promoting social and human development by ensuring universal access to essential services and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
Sixth, the importance of mitigating and adapting to climate change and ensuring a genuine New Green Deal for the LDCs that enables them to leap-frog into clean and green development.
Finally, reinforcing the role of trade as an engine of growth and beneficial globalization of LDCs.
In addition to these priorities, issues of conflict resolution, good governance, and gender equity are some important partnership areas as well.
You are challenged by the difficult economic and financial environment of the post food, fuel, financial and economic crisis world. At the same time, your work is likely to profit from the positive developments and lessons that have come to the fore in the development cooperation landscape.
The major engines of the development cooperation and world economy seem preoccupied with their own prospects for recovery, bolstering their financial and fiscal systems and dealing with jobs-related trade and investment protectionism and inward looking public sentiments. On the positive side is the realization that a small fraction of the public resource used for the stimulus in developed countries can be mobilized given political will, for sparking a major development take-off in LDCs. Also emergence of the Global South and private actors involved in development cooperation with the LDCs open up new and dynamic frontiers for LDC growth and sustainable development.
You will be distilling the most important issues to focus on and then convincing policy-makers and global public opinion that the issues identified are achievable, essential and must be adopted and implemented.
Your report, which we anticipate should be ready in its first draft by January and presented to the Secretary-General of the UN in March, will be the clarion call for action now on LDCs’ development.
Thank you for your kind attention