Remarks by Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, at the Special Meeting on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

Organized by NGO Committee on Sustainable Development

United Nations, New York, 7 January 2003

It is a pleasure to speak at this Special Meeting on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Least Developed Countries. I wish to thank the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development for organizing this dialogue and interaction with all involved partners.

In my presentation, I will be touching upon three main areas, viz: the implementation of Brussels Programme of Action, focus on Africa and the importance of partnerships.

1) Brussels Declaration and Programme of Action (PoA):
More than a year and a half has passed since the adoption of the Brussels Declaration and PoA for LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010. The Programme provides the framework for a strong global partnership to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development for the LDCs, and to enable these countries 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.

Since my Office started functioning in April 2002, it has been setting its course and direction and getting organized for undertaking its responsibilities. In carrying out the mandate, as articulated by the General Assembly and the Programme of Action, the Office has adopted a framework for action with four main elements: (i) it will focus on country-level implementation – both by LDCs and donor countries – to see to it that they are implementing their commitments made in the PoA; (ii) it will work with all relevant entities of the UN family; (iii) it will work with the multilateral organizations outside the UN system, particularly regional/sub-regional organizations like AU, ECOWAS, SADC, SAARC, ASEAN, etc; (iv) it will work closely with civil society and private sector as partners in development.
The Brussels POA, in paragraph 112, also identifies the elements of the annual reviews to be undertaken by ECOSOC at its substantive session. First, the review will include follow-up, monitoring and assessment of progress in the implementation of the POA at national, sub-regional, regional and global levels through report by governments as well as by all other entities concerned. Second, the review will be fostering international cooperation in support of the POA, including coordination among donors and among relevant entities. Third, the review will elaborate new policies and measures in light of changing domestic and external circumstances facing LDCs.

Global campaign for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which, inter-alia, target on addressing the needs of the LDCs have put development of these countries high on the agenda of the United Nations. The success of the MDGs would depend in a very significant way on the success of the development efforts of the LDCs. Progress with regard to the development indicators contained in the MDGs will make a headway if the LDCs do better in achieving those. So, the MDGs and the Brussels PoA are closely inter-linked and mutually supportive.

2) Focus on Africa:
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development differs in its approach and strategy from all previous plans and initiatives in support of Africa’s development, although the problems to be addressed remain largely the same. The NEPAD is envisaged as a long-term vision of an Africa-owned and Africa-led development programme.

The Brussels Programme and the NEPAD complement each other in a number of ways. Both the NEPAD and the Brussels Programme underscore the importance of good governance and human, institutional and productive capacity building. Mobilizing financial resources and market access are priority issues in both these programmes. Implementation of the NEPAD objectives will be truly meaningful if special support for the African LDCs is given a priority. It is essential to promote a synergy in the implementation of both the NEPAD and the Brussels Programmes, as 34 out of 49 LDCs are in Africa.

Let us also recall that, in his opening statement to the General Assembly’s debate last September, the Secretary-General of the UN welcomed the decision by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development to adopt the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the centrepiece of Africa’s development agenda. Africa has to more than double its current growth rate to achieve the 7% growth and increase the ratio of investment to GDP to 25% per annum, as envisaged in the Brussels Programme of Action, to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in the region by 2015.

The United Nations has once again shown a very strong commitment to the development of Africa by establishing a new Office of the Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa. I am looking forward to working closely with this new Office and am confident that working together we – Professor Ibrahim Gambari and myself – can promote effectively the development of African LDCs.

3) Importance of Partnerships:
Partnerships with Civil Society and the Private Sector, with their special capacity, could be significant for the successful implementation of the Brussels PoA. It calls on NGOs to support the efforts of the LDCs in a spirit of shared responsibility through genuine partnerships. My Office – Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) – will continue to promote dialogue with civil society including the NGOs. NGOs can help build bridges and establish channels of communication and cooperation between people and communities on one side, and governments, development institutions, and funding agencies on the other. NGOs have been playing an important role by advocacy at the global level for the cause of LDCs and by engaging in development work with communities in the country level. My Office is engaged in dialogue with NGOs to look at ways of working together. My Office is also working closely with Non-Governmental Liaison Services (NGLS) to make these dialogues meaningful and well organized. This afternoon’s meeting is an example of a partnership between my Office and the civil society.

Private sector participation is very critical to achieve growth in the African LDCs. The many ways in which business could be involved in poverty eradication are by supporting micro-credit, social services, sanitation and healthcare. The UN Secretary-General has undertaken a major initiative to forge partnerships with the business community to bring sustainable business to the world’s least developed countries to assist them in escaping their desperate poverty trap. The Global Compact launched by the Secretary-General in July 2000 facilitates in bringing companies together with the UN agencies, labour and civil society, to foster action and partnership. The World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 in Johannesburg, stresses on the importance of the role private sector and the importance of forging public-private partnerships to deal with many important issues.

The Global Compact organized a High-Level Round-Table on “Growing Sustainable Business in the Least developed Countries: supporting sustainable entrepreneurship,” in Johannesburg last September, in cooperation with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). One of the main goals of the Round-Table was to mobilize support from both governments and businesses to create new sustainable economic activity in the Least Developed Countries of the world.

At the Third International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Africa Regional Meeting held at Yaounde on 30 October 2002, I stressed on the importance of the role of private sector, both at the national and international levels, in order to achieve poverty alleviation and human development in the LDCs, in particular in Africa. In his message for the same forum, Secretary General, Kofi Annan, reiterated the importance of private entrepreneurship and market forces. He said “Let us choose to unite the power of the markets with the authority of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations.”

As this meeting is organized by the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development, let me bring to your attention some important points from the World Summit on Sustainable development, in Johannesburg last September. It accorded high priority to sustainable development of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small-Island Developing States (SIDS). The Plan of Implementation of the Summit sets forth a number of concrete commitments and targets of action with a time frame for these groups of countries. My Office will be working with others in the UN system, especially the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), to ensure that implementation is undertaken as per the Plan.

The Barbados Programme of Action has been designed to facilitate cooperation and assistance to the SIDS for achievement of environmental and developmental objectives in 14 priority areas. The SIDS will begin preparing for the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action scheduled for 2004 at which they hope to get another opportunity to tackle the problems of sustainable development and global warming. Mauritius has graciously agreed to host `Barbados + 10.’ My Office will be working very closely with the SIDS in ensuring that their issues are given top priority during the summit.

Let me conclude by drawing your attention to another area, which has the potential of enhancing the development efforts of the LDCs – that is the South-South cooperation. Since developing countries still share similar development challenges, South-South cooperation is more valid and relevant than ever. The LDCs can benefit a great deal from the technical knowledge and experience of the other developing countries. The High-Level meeting on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) and Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries (ECDC) in May 2003 should focus on what the other developing countries can do in support of the cause of the LDCs.

I hope all LDCs and their development partners, as well as civil society, the private sector and all other stakeholders, will forge worthwhile partnerships that will make the difference between success and stagnation.