Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am honoured to speak to you at this very important Ministerial meeting with less than a year to go until the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, or LDC IV. I was asked to provide an update on the on-going preparations for the Istanbul Conference, which will be held from 30 May to 3 June 2011 at the summit level.
I congratulate Nepal, especially H.E. Ambassador Acharya and his staff for ably chairing the LDC group over the past year. You steered the Group through many difficult negotiations, including on climate change, and succeeded in getting the LDCs and their issues on the agendas of important fora, from the MDGs Summit to the G20. Thus Nepal has been able to build on the solid ground laid by Bangladesh. Of course I should not forget to mention the invaluable support from Turkey as the host country in all aspects of the preparatory process.
As you may know by now, the United Nations Secretary General has designated me to serve as Secretary General of LDC IV. I will be continuing the work we have already started with Member States and partners in preparing for LDC IV. In addition, I will now be leading and coordinating activities of the entire United Nations system in the preparations.
I accept this honour with humility and am counting on your support to ensure that we gain strong international commitment for a reinvigorated development agenda for the LDCs.
The Secretary General of the United Nations has also appointed a Group of Eminent Persons to advise and advocate on the strong international support measures needed to accelerate development in the LDCs. The members have been selected in view of their high international stature, expertise and strong commitment to global development. They will be making efforts to raise public awareness and build strong political commitment in support of the LDCs.
Preparations for LDC IV are well underway and we have been following a bottom-up approach starting from the country level.
National consultations took place throughout 2009, supported by United Nations resident coordinators. They involved a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including governments, parliaments, civil society and the private sector. These consultations produced analytical and forward-looking reports that fed into the regional reviews.
The first regional review was for the Asia-Pacific region, co-organised with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, UNESCAP. The government of Bangladesh hosted the meeting in Dhaka, in January this year. The meeting adopted the Dhaka outcome document, which was further endorsed by ministers at UNESCAP’s 66th annual session.
The second regional preparatory meeting took place in March in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, co-organised with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECA; and the United Nations Development Programme. The outcome document was also endorsed by the joint African Union and ECA Conference of Ministers.
Both documents stressed that implementing the Brussels Programme remains unfinished business.
My office, in collaboration with other UN agencies and international organisations, has scheduled an extensive series of thematic pre-conference events. Some events like one on the impact of the global financial crisis on the productive capacities and trading relations of LDCs with UNIDO and one on the role of migration and remittances with IOM and UNITAR have been successfully concluded.
Other pre-conference events already planned cover key issues such as achieving a smooth transition following graduation from LDC status, - which will take place here in New York on 15 October. Another one organised by UNCTAD will look into issues related to strengthening productive capacities.
At the beginning of October we will meet in Lisbon at the invitation by Portugal to discuss the way forward for financing for development for LDCs, including important issues of ODA quantity and quality, private resource flows, including from emerging countries, domestic resource mobilisation, innovative sources of finance and a global stimulus package for LDCs. This ministerial level event is jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal and my Office. I look forward to meeting some of you there to develop new proposals in this important area.
As you know all of these pre-conference events are expected to provide substantive inputs to a new Programme of Action.
A Brainstorming Meeting on the substantive preparation for UN LDC IV took place here in New York in July including all major stakeholders from LDCs, donors, emerging development partners and UN System organizations and international financial institutions. It provided useful inputs for the assessment of the implementation of the Brussels Programme in order to improve the substantive content of the next development agenda and the methodology for monitoring progress.
The two (2) sessions of the PrepCom to be held in New York in January and April of next year will give us a clearer idea of this content.
In order to ensure broad participation in the conference, my Office is working with civil society, parliamentarians and the private sector, along three different tracks for the Conference, so as to thoroughly include their views. Steering Committees will manage the civil society and private sector track of the conference and will meet several times during the preparatory process.
We have also prepared a guide on mobilizing parliamentary support in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and are planning a parliamentarian forum during LDC IV.
The MDG summit and the opening of the GA have also helped to refocus some of the international discussions on the importance of LDCs as the most vulnerable group of countries. The slogan “no MDGs without LDCs” has been heard by many and I am encouraged by the high level participation of key development partners at the two side events dedicated to LDCs and MDGs last week. I am reassured by some of the statements made at these side events that preparations for the LDC Conference are also high on the agenda of various developing partners and that genuine concern has led to some new thinking related to aid allocation and innovative finance, which hopefully will lead to concrete deliverables for LDC IV.
We are heading to Istanbul with roughly the same number of LDCs that began the journey in 2001. Only one country, Cape Verde, has graduated from the group during the last decade. Thus it is evident that a renewed commitment to the partnership for LDCs and a new programme of Action is needed. I am confident that the Ministerial Declaration to be adopted at this meeting will provide further guidance in this respect.
The LDCs need an ambitious and internationally supported development agenda. Let us redouble our efforts to ensure that LDC IV delivers such an agenda.
Before closing, allow me Mr. Chair to publicly acknowledge and thank Turkey, India, and Belgium for their financial contributions to the LDC Trust Fund for the preparations of the LDC IV Conference. I also thank Bangladesh, India and Portugal for hosting Ministerial Meetings leading to the Conference – India just announced today its decision to host the thematic ministerial meeting on “Harnessing the positive contribution of South-South cooperation for LDCs Development”.
Thank you for your kind attention.