Statement at the Disaster Risk-Informed and Resilient COVID-19 Recovery Side Event

Statement by Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

15 October 2020 
New York, USA

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join you at this Second Committee side event.

I thank Special Representative Mami Mizutori and team for her leadership on this event, as well as the ILO and UN Women for their close partnership.

A critical topic brings us together.

As their United Nations High Representative, I once again must stress how the Least Developed countries, Landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing countries are among them most vulnerable nations of our shared planet.

Their peoples are disproportionately affected by climate change induced risks, by health risks and by the vagaries of the global economic and financial systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic shows all too vividly the manifold inequalities, the too many exclusions we must overcome if indeed we do not want to leave anyone behind and stay true to what we promise in Agenda 2030 and the Paris Climate Agreement. 

What is the situation for the peoples of the countries OHRLLS advocates for?

Like everywhere else, we see the immediate physical health impacts.

That is the tip of the iceberg and it is of great concern that by now tourism, trade, remittances, all vital livelihood ingredients, have plummeted if not come to a standstill.

What does this mean? It means job losses, it means severe decline in government revenues, it means severe worsening of debt spirals that were already barely sustainable prior to the pandemic.

In short, lives AND livelihoods are threatened.

Just like elsewhere,  lockdowns and closures have major negative psychological and social impacts.

Women, disabled people, poor people are disproportionately impacted.

Food insecurity is setting in, access to education given the poor connectivities is threatened and finding work hardly possible. Take this against a backdrop where there are hardly any social protection systems! 

To add to this already vicious cycle, ever more frequent extreme weather events have brought further life threatening disruption – from Category-5 Tropical Cyclone Harold in the Pacific to the devastating floods in Bangladesh and Sudan.

This brings me to the Sendai Framework.

The framework gives us both, an approach and tools to safeguard against multiple catastrophes and building resilience at all levels.

Now is the time for renewed efforts and commitment to ensure that as many countries as possible can achieve Target E of the Sendai Framework to have national and local disaster risk reduction strategies in place.

Too much time has already elapsed and we must accelerate progress. To do so, capacity building and financial assistance are critical to support the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS in this important endeavour.

The LLDCs and SIDS concluded their mid-term reviews of their Programmes of Action respectively in September and December 2019. As I stated on other occasions, prior to the pandemic we could talk of a glass half full. By now, and in the immediate, we must ensure that the glass does stay half full and then we must together build!

An important opportunity is before us to just do that.

This is the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs, to be held in Qatar in 2022.

The Conference itself, its preparatory process, offer enormous opportunities to craft a risk-informed development agenda and plan for the next 10-year Programme of Action for the LDCs.

I have every hope that today’s  meeting will explore the immediate and medium-term measures that Governments can take to address the underlying social and economic drivers at the core of disaster risk.

We have the chance to hear from an array of academics and practitioners from diverse backgrounds and countries.

Standing still is not an option. We must find solutions to ensure we leave no one behind.

I look forward to the discussions and am confident that we will make progress in advancing the debate.

Thank you.