Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the ministerial meeting of the least developed countries, in New York today:
I am pleased to participate in this ministerial meeting of the Group of Least Developed Countries. I extend my appreciation to Benin for its able leadership of the Group of Least Developed Countries over the past three years.
I commend the strong stewardship of Ambassador Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou in representing the Group in various forums. And I congratulate the Government of Bangladesh for taking on the responsibility of chairing the Group.
Last week, we concluded a successful Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. I greatly appreciate your active participation at the highest level. This was vitally important.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development features a universal, transformative and integrated set of goals and targets. They address the root causes of poverty and the need for development that works for all. Agenda 2030 seeks to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, social protection and a healthy environment.
These are all priorities for least developed countries. Least developed countries, including landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, are the most vulnerable among our nations. They are disproportionately affected by environmental challenges, health emergencies, natural disasters, poverty and hunger, and youth unemployment.
But, least developed countries are not just characterized by their challenges. They represent enormous reservoirs of untapped potential. Unlocking this potential will be the litmus test of Agenda 2030. Let me reassure you of my full commitment to least developed countries. The United Nations system will continue to accord them special priority.
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals will require a quantum leap from business as usual. Intensified and innovative cooperation will be essential — between countries, among sectors and with private sector and civil society partners. That is why Agenda 2030 calls for a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development.
The Addis Ababa Action Accord addresses a full spectrum of issues, including resources, enabling environments and systemic challenges. It captures the concerns of least developed countries and provides a comprehensive package for them. This includes a commitment to increase official development assistance (ODA), to establish investment promotion regimes for least developed countries, and to operationalize the technology bank for least developed countries by 2017.
The successful outcome of the Sustainable Development Summit and Addis Conference on Financing for Development are important milestones. These must be followed by a robust, universal climate change agreement in December in Paris.
This is critical to the global community, especially least developed countries, which are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. I count on least developed countries to play a constructive role in making the climate summit successful.
Next year will be the first year of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The High-Level Political Forum will play a key role as the new platform for the follow-up to the Sustainable Development Goals. The high-level mid-term review of the Istanbul Programme of Action, which will take place in Antalya, Turkey, in June, will provide a good opportunity to make further progress towards the graduation of least developed countries.
As we embark on our new journey, the voice of least developed countries will need to be heard in all global decision-making and norm-setting processes. The strong leadership of the Group of Least Developed Countries will continue to be crucial. I commend you for your work in helping to define the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I look forward to continuing our close work together in pursuit of your future prosperity.