Exellencies, Ministers in charge of industry from the least developed countries,
Mr. Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a singular honour and privilege for me to be with you today. Let me also say how grateful I am to Mr. Yumkella for inviting me to share with you my thoughts and reflection on the way forward for the implementation of the IPoA. I greatly value the strong bonds UNIDO and OHRLLS have established over the years.
This Ministerial Conference is being held at a critical moment as it takes place, as you are aware, only a few months after the successful convening of the Fourth United Nations Conference on LDCs that was held in Istanbul from 9 to 13 May 2011. The Conference adopted a bold Istanbul Declaration and a comprehensive and ambitious Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.
The Istanbul Programme of Action is a culmination of the outcomes of 19 pre-conference events as well as contributions coming from other processes and events. It was at this particular meeting 2 years ago, where we held the first of these pre-conference events on the Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on the LDCs’ Productive Capacities and Trade Prospects – Threats and Opportunities. At this meeting, a Ministerial Plan of Action for UNIDO’s assistance to LDCs was adopted as one of the first stepping stones for the substantive preparations for the Conference.
For the preparatory process for the Conference we pursued a bottom-up approach, starting with country-level preparations feeding into regional and global-level processes. I am happy to inform you that all relevant stakeholders including Governments, UN entities and other international organizations, parliamentarians, civil society and private sector representatives were actively engaged in the entire preparatory process and the Conference itself.
Further, the Secretary-General appointed a group of nine Eminent Persons in 2010 which came up with a comprehensive report entitled “Compact for Inclusive Growth and Prosperity’. This report sets out a framework for priority actions for LDCs to ensure their structural transformation. It highlights the importance of building productive capacities in the agricultural, manufacturing and services sectors whilst filling infrastructure gaps, inter alia through more aid allocation towards these sectors;
The Fourth UN Conference on the least developed countries was a significant development event of this decade. The Conference was attended by more than 8,900 accredited participants including 36 Heads of State or Government, 200 parliamentarians, including 10 speakers, 96 ministers and 60 heads of the UN and other international organizations as well as more than 1500 civil society representatives and 500 business leaders.
The Conference featured six high-level interactive thematic debates and forty-five special events, during which participants discussed the development challenges LDCs face and exchanged views on ways and means to respond to these challenges, both individually and collectively. A similar exercise also took place at the parliamentary and Civil Society Forums.
I would like to commend UNIDO for organising a special event on enhancing the role of SMEs in the agribusiness global value chains, a topic which is at the core of the new Programme of Action.
The private sector track marked an important milestone for the UN as it was for the first time that the private sector was fully involved into the programmes of a major UN Conference. The private sector track had three interlocking components: a High-level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships; a Global Business Partnership Forum; and a Trade Fair.
The Istanbul Programme of Action represents a shared vision and common aspiration of LDCs and their development partners based on commitments, accountability and partnership. The overarching goal of this newly adopted programme of action is to address the structural handicaps before LDCs, therefore securing poverty eradication and the attainment of international agreed development goals across LDCs which would result in increasing the number of countries graduating from their least developed status.
The new Programme of Action brings about a qualitative shift in the development strategy for LDCs for the next decade. The eight priority areas of the Istanbul Programme of Action cover major sectors of importance to LDCs development in a comprehensive manner. The agreed agenda consists of a significant rebalancing of priorities between productive sectors and social sectors and focuses on building and enhancing productive capacities in all sectors with a strong focus on access to technology.
In line with this it is also worth mentioning that countries of the South have made a commitment to support the effective implementation of the Programme of Action, within the framework of South-South cooperation.
Additionally, the Programme of Action also contains comprehensive follow-up and monitoring measures at national, regional and global levels, which should be mutually complementary and reinforcing.
The most important task ahead of us, is the implementation. We therefore attach special emphasis on the implementation, follow-up and monitoring processes. Immediately after the Conference, my office started working on the implementation strategy. Since, the Istanbul Programme of Action has mandated the OHRLLS to fully mobilize and coordinate all parts of the United Nations system; my office organized a brainstorming meeting engaging the whole UN system, including Bretton Woods Institutions, WTO, as well as the OECD and some Member States to develop a comprehensive Road Map.
In this Road Map, we made an attempt to mobilize active and constructive engagement of all the development partners of LDCs. We have illustrated the specific role of various actors in a targeted and time-bound manner. I am very much looking forward to the discussions on the support the UN System can provide to LDCs during the next session.
As for the inter-governmental mechanism, it will undertake activities related to the implementation, follow-up and monitoring of the Programme of Action at the national, regional and global levels. The first and foremost task would be the mainstreaming of the Programme of Action by LDCs into their national development strategies and by the development partners into their respective development cooperation strategies.
At the regional level, the United Nations regional commissions and agencies would undertake biennial reviews of the implementation of the Programme of Action in cooperation with sub-regional and regional development banks and intergovernmental organizations.
At the global level, both the General Assembly and the ECOSOC will monitor the implementation of the Programme of Action on an annual basis.
Further, The United Nations funds and programmes and other multilateral organizations, including the Bretton Woods Institutions will contribute to the implementation of the Programme of Action including by integrating it into their work programmes. Some of them have already undertaken decisions to mainstream the Istanbul Programme of Action, and I am sure the UNIDO General Conference will do the same next week.
In line with the more prominent role of other stakeholders in the Istanbul programme of action, OHRLLS will intensify its collaboration with parliaments and civil society. For the private sector, we are planning to develop a platform for their continued engagement in the implementation, follow-up, monitoring and review of the Istanbul Programme of Action. The Private Sector Steering Committee has also agreed to form a Business Advisory Council for LDCs.
I would also like to mention that at the recent Broadband Summit held in Geneva 24-25 October, which I attended as one of the Commissioners, it was agreed that the LDCs should be a priority target for assistance in improving information telecommunication infrastructure. In this respect the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization extended an offer of capacity training to the LDCs. We are going to work on the modalities of such an assistance with the organizations concerned.
In conclusion, I would urge upon all of you to act promptly and decisively. With our dedicated and concerted efforts, it is possible to achieve the overarching goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action to enable half the number of LDCs to reach the criteria for graduation by 2020. Let us work together to achieve this goal.
I thank you all for your kind attention.