Newsletter - Autumn 2021

In Chad - a landlocked developing country (LLDC) - a transport truck in the desert. Photographer: anmede (Flickr)


A welcome from the High Representative Fekita K. 'Utoikamanu

We are just a step from the end of an extremely challenging year.

2020 showed us how vulnerable progress can be, and how easily the results of decades of hard work can be taken away. This year we witnessed major setbacks in the fight against poverty and exclusion, and the work to ensure good health and education for all. However, we find hope in humanity's repeated ability to come together in times of deep crisis. Together we can defeat poverty, disease, hunger, illness - and this pandemic.

UN-OHRLLS' role in this time of crisis – and at all times - is to support the needs of the 91 most vulnerable nations. And while the whole of humanity has been affected by COVID-19 one way or another, billions of people still face poverty, hunger and the effects of climate change.

We must not forget, in our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, that no progress is truly achieved unless it benefits everyone everywhere, including the most vulnerable.

This newsletter is one new effort of my Office to include you in our work to ensure the most vulnerable voices are heard at the highest levels. We hope you enjoy reading about the activities and successes for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

And I hope you will share this with others who might be interested in our work and help our community grow.

Thank you.


In October, we launched the #MostVulnerable91 campaign. Built around an online platform on the OHRLLS website, we present data from the 91 countries we serve, and analyse funding made available to them to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The dashboard shows that it is precisely those countries with the most vulnerabilities that receive the least support per capita to survive the crisis.

Our research shows that out of the US$20 trillion estimated global response to COVID-19, only US$8.5 billion has been spent so far to support the world’s most vulnerable countries. In fact, LDCs have received just US$6.90 per person; LLDCs US$7 per person and SIDS US$19.37 per person. This is a fraction of what richer countries have been able to spend – the European Union, for example, was able to spend US$6,290 per head.

This difference is astonishing. We must all remember that a global recovery is only possible when every country survives the pandemic. We invite you to visit the #MostVulnerable91 Dashboard by clicking on the image above, and interact with the data it offers, to see for yourself how the world’s most vulnerable countries risk being left behind even during a global pandemic.


OHRLLS’ work on behalf of the most vulnerable countries

The 2020 United Nations General-Assembly was a historical one. For the first time ever, due to the pandemic, world leaders did not come to New York. So, the United Nations adapted to the new ways of working and created the first-ever virtual General Assembly. OHRLLS also moved all its meetings online. Have a look below at what we did during this year’s UNGA.


Annual Ministerial Meeting of Least Developed Countries

Students in Bhutan - one of the world's least developed countries (LDCs). Photo by ADB.


Hosted by the Malawi Foreign Minister – Chair of the LDC group - Government Ministers from all 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), “Friends of LDCs” and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations met virtually on the sidelines of the High-level week of the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations on September 17.

The Ministers discussed the challenge of COVID-19 - felt all over the world but most keenly in the Least Developed Countries - and provided strategic guidance for the last year of implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action and articulated the key sustainable development priorities of LDCs.  Of particular importance in the discussion, was the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) to be held in Qatar from 23-27 January 2022 and the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.

The outcomes of this meeting were agreed in a Declaration which expressed the LDCs Ministers’ concern for slow, or in some cases reversing, progress towards the achievement of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read the Ministerial Declaration HERE.



Annual Ministerial Meeting of Landlocked Developing Countries

Group in  Lesotho, a Landlocked Developing Country (LLDCs). Photo by FAO.


Joined by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, Foreign Ministers of all LLDCs gathered at the 2020 United Nations General Assembly to agree priorities to be implemented in the remaining five years of the Vienna Programme of Action. During the meeting, the Ministers discussed how to accelerate the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action in order to achieve sustainable development in LLDCs, stressing how implementation efforts must be anchored in the fight to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ministers also called for support through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.  2020 also marks the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations. To mark the occasion, the UN General Assembly gathered under the theme, ‘The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.’ The Ministerial meeting contributed to the discussions commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.

During the meeting, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, adopted a Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action.

The Declaration resulting from the Ministerial Meeting calls for more investment in transport and energy infrastracture and digital connectivity, amongst other priority areas. It also requests further support to accelerate the implementation of the VPoA.



Small Island Developing States, Assessment of Financing for Development Flows

Port of Male in Maldives, a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). Photo by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


In October, UN-OHRLLS launched an assessment providing the latest available data and an analytical overview of the external financial flows to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for sustainable development and the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda. This assessment focusses on understanding these countries' need for concessional finance and international support by providing facts, figures and analysis of recent trends in support of the 38 SIDS.

The study finds that financial flows to SIDS have not increased as much as hoped between 2014 and 2018, with a need for adequate support while SIDS are unable to access concessional funding windows and struggle with unsustainable debt.

For much more data and analysis, and an in depth look at focused issues such as COVID-19 and Climate Change finance, see the report HERE.


Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG) Meetings on LDCs, LLCDs and SIDS

In the month of November, United Nations Agencies, Funds, Programmes and Offices, together with other international and regional organisations working on behalf of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, met in three Inter-Agency Consultative Groups (IACGs) - an informal consultative mechanism, convening experts on LLDCs issues. These meetings occur periodically to enhance coordination and collaboration in support of vulnerable states and the implementation of their respective Programmes of Action through the provision of each organisation’s area of expertise and contribution. Each of these groups, coordinates activities at global, regional and national levels; monitors the PoAs’ progress; shares, replicates and scales up best practices for the benefit of LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.


Visit the new UN-OHRLLS Website!

We launched a new website with a completely new address under the UN online umbrella.

We hope that you will find the website to be an important resource for information on events, reports and activities carried out by the office, relevant official documentation and other reports covering the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS and on how global trends - from COVID-19 to climate change - are playing out in the world’s most vulnerable countries. 

This website will also be fully integrated to the advocacy and social media work of the office, providing a forum for information exchange on ways to move forward.

Take a look!


The 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries is coming!

While the preparatory process for the 5th Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) had been on standby due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the preparatory process has been relaunched with renewed momentum.

In fact, the major conference will be held in Doha from 23-27 January 2022 to help build an ambitious new programme for action for LDCs and will be held at a critical time, as the final decade of action for the 2030 agenda gathers pace.

Visit the new LDC5 website for more info and to keep informed on the latest news.


Worth a Look

To Expedite Resilient Solar in the Caribbean, Collaboration is Key

Twelve Least Developed Countries on Path to Graduation Reflects Significant Development Progress - Despite ongoing setbacks

UN News - UN stands ready to support landlocked nations in pandemic recovery 

UN News - Pacific small islands and ‘Big Ocean’ nations at UN Assembly make the case for climate action, shift to clean energy 

UN News – Aid agencies call for urgent action to prevent famine in hunger hotspots 

World Bank - Air Freight: A Market Study with Implications for Landlocked Countries 

BBC News - Climate Change: Better warning systems needed for extreme weather 

This article by BBC Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath, shows how early warning systems to alert on extreme weather, can save millions of lives.