Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me begin by thanking the Governments of Bangladesh and Canada, as well as OHRLLS for co-organising this event. Today’s topic is weighing on most leaders’ minds, in particular least developed countries preparing for graduation.
Four countries have graduated during the last decade. Sixteen more, including Bangladesh, have met the required criteria and are on the path to graduation.
Countries recognize that meeting the graduation criteria for the first time, and effective graduation, takes time. Significant external shocks – including from extreme weather events and natural disasters – have required an extension for most countries graduating in the last decade.
This is also likely for the coming decade. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have long-term risks, including a precarious global economic outlook.
Many LDCs have managed to limit the immediate health crisis caused by the pandemic. However, economies and communities have been hit hard, largely through negative impacts on manufacturing, tourism and remittances.
The majority of LDCs graduating, or recommended for graduation, remain on track. Yet for some, the loss of LDC-specific measures have acute implications on their smooth transition, towards longer-term sustainable development.
COVID-19 has reinforced the fact that both risks and vulnerability are systemic, and interlinked. Strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable against various risks – climatic, geophysical, economic or health-related – should be of paramount importance.
Building resilience to these shocks is key to preparing for graduation and developing a national smooth transition strategy towards development progress.
To this end, the following measures could be considered by the international community:
- Incentive-based comprehensive package of time-bound international support measures that integrate multilateral, regional and bilateral support, and that reflect the substantial diversity among LDCs. Such a package will help graduating and graduating countries to avoid any disruption to their development and to prevent them from falling back into the LDC category.
- UN DESA, as Secretariat of the UN Committee for Development Policy, has strengthened its support to the Committee in enhancing the integration of existing and new graduation support services, and designed a Sustainable Graduation Support Facility to address graduation concerns by Member States. It is one of the contributions that the Committee will make to the Fifth Conference on LDCs (LDC5) to be held in Doha, in January 2022. Through joint efforts with OHRLLS as Chair of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on LDC Graduation (IATF), and buy-in from LDCs, these concrete support measures would benefit graduating and graduated countries as part of the new programme of action for the new decade.
- Leveraging the UN Development System reforms and strengthened UN System coordination. Entities of the UN development system, including the regional economic commissions, have made specific commitments to scale up tailored support. Throughout the year, UN DESA and the IATF have worked together to enhance the coordinated UN system-wide support to graduating countries, in close cooperation with the Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams.
- Leadership will be of utmost importance. With visionary, sound, stable and solid leadership, graduating and graduated countries can inspire, and steer graduation related national policies and decisions, in the midst of adversity and uncertainty.
I wish you all a very fruitful dialogue, and concrete outcomes.
I thank you.