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Working towards a bright future for vulnerable countries

“We will not succeed in achieving the SDGs, and successfully combating climate change, unless sufficient attention is given to the special needs of the most vulnerable countries.”

Ms. Heidi Schroderus-Fox reflects on four years as Director of UN-OHRLLS

When OHRLLS came into existence in 2001, it signalled recognition from the international community that focused attention and support from the United Nations was needed to address the needs and challenges of its most vulnerable Member States: those that were least developed, landlocked and situated on small Islands. In the beginning, the office was given a very large and aspirational mandate, but a relatively small staff and budget. The office went through its first decade under the capable leadership of USG Chowdry (2002-2007), and USG Diarra (2007-2012). This decade included the establishment of the new programmes of action; the Brussels programme of action for the LDCs, the Mauritius programme of action for the SIDS, the Almaty programme of action for the landlocked developing countries.

I had the privilege of joining the office in July 2012, at the start of its second decade, and just a few days before Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya was appointed Under Secretary General. The last four years have been extremely busy with the office organizing numerous dedicated meetings and events addressing the special needs and challenges of these countries at global, regional and country level. The office has partnered with many Member States, international organizations, business partners and non-governmental organizations to make sure that dedicated attention and support is provided to the most vulnerable countries. During these four years the office has also grown significantly. 10 new posts were allocated to the Least Developed Countries programme, following the approval of the Istanbul Programme of Action. The office now has a dedicated and highly motivated staff of 30 persons, comprised of 26 nationalities.

UN-OHRLLS works very closely with the Member States that the office represents and their partners. This is a tremendous partnership, and it is an honor to be directing an office that assists these countries in reaching their development aspirations. Some of the highlights of our work during the past four years include: supporting the formulation of the Samoa pathway for small island developing states and the Vienna programme of action for Land-locked Developing countries, both setting out long-term visions for international support and accomplishment during the next decade and the organisation of the Mid-term Review of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action). Another recent highlight was when in September 2015 UN-OHRLLS hosted together with China a roundtable on South-South cooperation, chaired by the UN Secretary General and the President of China.

These are very exciting – and challenging times for the international community, as we turn our attention especially toward achievement of the SDGs, and responding to global climate change. We will not succeed in achieving the SDGs, and successfully combating climate change, unless sufficient attention is given to the special needs of the most vulnerable countries. We at UN-OHRLLS are dedicated to helping LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS on these challenges during the coming years. To that end, we are especially pleased to lead on one of the first deliverables of the SDGs as the General Assembly will consider the establishment of the LDC Technology Bank.

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