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Perspectives from vulnerable countries

Permanent Representatives to the United Nations from Bangladesh, The Republic of Zambia and the Maldives share their thoughts on the future of the vulnerable country groups and the contribution of UN-OHRLLS over the past 15 years.

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement, Istanbul Programme of Action (and recent Midterm Review) for LDCs, Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs, SAMOA Pathway for SIDS and other global agreements in place, what key issues need to be addressed to ensure that vulnerable countries are at the forefront of implementation and partnerships for sustainable development?

Bangladesh – H.E. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen 

Finance would be the biggest challenge for the LDCs to implement SDGs. Development partners must fulfill their commitment to provide the equivalent of 0.15-0.2% of their GNI as ODA to the LDCs. Robust investment support would help these countries achieve productive capacity particularly in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Serious attention must be given to the fact that vulnerable countries still face difficulties in having access to, and availability of, technology and innovation. Operationalization of the Technology Bank would be a way forward for us. Finally, efforts must be redoubled for greater integration of the vulnerable countries with global economy. Conclusion of the current trade negotiations to ensure duty-free and quota -free market access for the LDC products and other trade issues is a prerequisite for the vulnerable countries to that end.

As the countries of the world were united to devise ways to combat global poverty and underdevelopment through the global agreements, they must demonstrate the same level of commitment to forge partnership for the implementation of the goals and targets in the LDCs.

The Republic of Zambia – H. E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota

The successful implementation and achievement of the SDGs will be possible only if progress is made in these groups of vulnerable countries and when no one is left behind. Therefore, the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS deserve special attention from the international community in our pursuit of sustainable development. The most vulnerable countries also need to be made part of and be actively engaged in the follow-up efforts to these global processes and frameworks to ensure that our issues are fully incorporated. We need to take advantage of the synergies and convergences between the Vienna Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and other global frameworks to maximise the sustainable developmental outcomes for the LLDCs.

Maldives – H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer

Access to the appropriate means of implementation has long been a major challenge in moving from the negotiation phase of sustainable development to implementing projects on the ground. Without adequate resources we simply cannot make the investments needed to get the work started and see it through to completion. Relatedly, we must continue to build on the partnerships that are so fundamental to doing sustainable development right. That means continuing an open dialogue about what is working and what isn’t, and having the flexibility to make adjustments along the way. Sustainable development is a long-term endeavor and it is critical that we allow for a learning process to occur as we work to be more responsive to needs and efficient.

Climate change has been referred to as the defining issue of our time. In light of the Paris Agreement what are your hopes for adaptation and building resilience to the increasing challenges posed by climate change in your country group?

H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer

Small islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts and we are already seeing extreme weather that is pushing our ability to adapt. For example, the powerful El Nino conditions last year, which were driven by climate change, wreaked havoc across our membership: from record cyclones to record droughts to the longest and potentially most destructive coral bleaching event in history. In terms of resilience and adaptation, it is critical that we continue to gather the baseline data that is so important to effective disaster risk management. We should also look at how we can better collaborate on sharing best practices, both in building resilience in our infrastructure and recovering in the aftermath of a drought, flood, storm, and so forth. In terms of the Paris Agreement, delivery of the resources pledged to help vulnerable communities adjust to the new realities of climate change is indispensible to our ability to adjust to the new realities of climate change.

H.E. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen

Climate change impacts continue to undermine the development efforts of the many of the LDCs. For example, in Bangladesh, a considerable amount of our development gains are taken away by the adverse impacts of climate change every year. The incidence of poverty also exacerbates the climate vulnerability of the LDCs. There must be wider appreciation of the fact that the threat of climate change is bigger for the LDCs than other countries. Countries like Bangladesh would need more external support to tackle the challenges posed by climate change. This support would have to come in the form of additional finance, technology and capacity building. Rules must be made easier for ensuring the accessibility to the existing funds such as the Green Climate Fund, LDC Fund etc. by the LDCs.

H. E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota

LLDCs are especially affected by the effects of climate change which constitute serious challenges to the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action. Because our countries are characterized by large proportions of dryland, they are highly vulnerable and disproportionately affected by desertification, land degradation and drought. Some landlocked developing countries are also affected by flooding, including glacial lake outburst floods. These climate change effects exert tremendous pressure on our economies and people and have serious consequences including on agricultural production, food security, energy constraints, transport infrastructure, water availability, erosion of biodiversity, migration and general human health. The Paris Agreement resolves to enhance the provision of urgent and adequate finance, technology and capacity-building support to developing countries and particularly countries vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

As the international community begins implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaving no one behind, how can vulnerable countries build on momentum made towards meeting these goals and ensure successful implementation?

H. E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota

First and foremost, ensuring successful implementation of the new global development agenda requires national commitment. The development of each country is the primary responsibility of that country itself. This is what we, as LLDCs, have also acknowledged in the Vienna Programme of Action. For that reason, we need to continue to enhance our domestic resource mobilization efforts. LLDCs should also undertake the necessary domestic actions to mainstream the 2030 Agenda and the Vienna Programme of Action into our national development plans and strategies in order to ensure effective implementation.

Realizing that our national efforts requires international support, we need to create the necessary pre-conditions and the enabling domestic environment for development assistance, private sector investment, partnerships, development projects and programmes implemented by international organizations, etc.

H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer

I think it is important that we continue the dialogue we started at the beginning of this process so many years ago. As the slogan durable and genuine partnerships suggests, sustainable development is a team effort that asks something of donors and recipients. Both sides need to be open and flexible enough to adapt to changes that inevitably occur over the course of the implementation phase. But, the truth is, we have learned a lot over the years and many of those lessons are reflected in the outcome document. If we stick to those principals and honor the commitments we made to each other, I’m confident we will be successful.

H.E. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen

The sustainable development goals are transformative as they are universal and indivisible. Nevertheless, while international cooperation for the LDCs has been highlighted in the SDGs, the implementation of these goals is primarily the onus of the LDCs themselves. We would have to invest more in furthering our productive capacity in all sectors with particular focus on agriculture, and rural development, putting in place sustainable infrastructure, and ensuring energy availability. While mobilizing external resources, we must also focus on domestic resource mobilization for financing the SDGs. All our economic efforts must aim at employment generation particularly targeting the youth and women of the society. Although the goals are indivisible, the governments of the LDCs would have to attach importance to their national priorities. The implementation of the goals must be integrated with the mainstream development plans and actions.

UN-OHRLLS marks its 15 year anniversary this year. How has the Office supported your country group and what are some key milestones reached so far?

H.E. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen

UN-OHRLLS has played a constructive role in resource mobilization for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS through advocacy and coordination. Thanks to the OHRLLS, the IPOA and its mid-term review, the Almaty Declaration, Vienna Declaration, Samoa Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy have been important milestones where the interest of these countries featured quite prominently. UN-OHRLLS has been overseeing the implementation of internationally agreed goals and commitments for accelerating the pace of development in these vulnerable countries. It has been working as an institutional memory for these countries by collecting and collating information and data concerning their development. By organizing different events, workshops, seminars and meetings on issues related to the LDCs, OHRLLS has provided the platform for sharing best practices and lessons learnt among these countries and all stakeholders. Arranging funds and facilitating participation of LDCs in events has been a remarkable contribution of the OHRLLS to ensure effective representation of the LDCs.

H. E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota

UN-OHRLLS has been a key advocate for the special needs and challenges of the LLDCs ever since its inception. UN-OHRLLS has been coordinating and mobilizing support from the UN system and other international and regional organizations to our Group, with a view to ensure effective and coordinated implementation, follow-up and review of the Vienna Programme of Action – previously the Almaty Programme of Action. The office of Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, has supported the mobilization of international support and resources for the benefit of the LLDCs and has been undertaking tireless awareness raising and advocacy efforts to ensure that the issues important to our Group are reflected in the international arena.

What we have seen over the past 15 years is that there is greater visibility and international recognition of the challenges and special needs of the LLDCs and that our issues are now firmly integrated into the international development agenda. Increased international awareness and recognition of our issues could not have been possible without the support of UN-OHRLLS to the LLDC Group in achieving our goals and ambitions.

H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer

The Office has played an invaluable advocacy role in calling international attention to the challenges our groups face and our successes as well. We have also been pleased to see it bring a high level of engagement with the private sector, which has a crucial role to play in achieving full implementation.

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