Prerecorded Statement by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly
22 February 2021
Excellencies, Ministers, distinguished participants,
Two weeks ago, we started the intergovernmental process of preparations for the Fifth LDC Conference. We all know that building back better, stronger and more resilient from the COVID-19 pandemic is an imperative for LDCs. Investment to bolster LDCs against economic and climate shocks, which derail or stifle sustainable development prospects, is critical. I was encouraged by the high expectations for an ambitious outcome at the Conference in Doha, expressed by Member States.
The Istanbul Programme of Action is firmly situated in the 2030 Agenda. For the past 10 years, it has guided sustainable development efforts of the international community. This Regional Review provides a unique opportunity to study and better understand the successes and challenges of implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action in African LDCs and Haiti. This review must be used to inform our efforts going forward, so we can focus on the many areas of where progress is needed most. Your efforts this week will feed into a new Programme of Action that will be adopted in Doha in January 2022.
The Istanbul Programme of Action also highlights the importance of partnerships and involvement of all relevant stakeholders. This, of course, includes the governments of LDCs and their development partners, but also parliaments, the private sector, civil society, the UN system and other international organisations. I am very happy to see that all these groups are represented here today and encourage you to use this opportunity to grow and deepen these partnerships.
While all Member States have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable countries face the greatest risk of losing a generation of hard-won development gains. We cannot let that happen. This is where the 2030 promise of leaving no one behind will be won or lost.
Throughout my Presidency, I have prioritized the issues faced by the most vulnerable Member States, with a special focus on LDCs, who are close to my heart. While all Member States have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the most vulnerable countries face the greatest risk of losing a generation of hard-won development gains. We cannot let that happen. This is where the 2030 promise of leaving no one behind will be won or lost.
We must ensure our efforts also benefit from the demographic dividend of large youth populations, especially in African LDCs and Haiti. Opportunities must be created so that youth populations can pursue their ambitions and contribute to better conditions on our planet.
Bridging the technology gap between LDCs and other developing countries is crucial to maximize the benefit of the demographic dividend. Access to the internet has more than tripled for African LDCs over the past decade, however, around four out of five people in African LDCs still have no access to the Internet. Internet access is fundamental to all forms of social and economic interaction.
In this regard, I will convene a Thematic Debate on Digital Cooperation and Connectivity on the 27th of April, to explore “whole-of-society” approaches to end the digital divide. We need to mobilize the international community to address the growing digital divide that has deepened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, 789 million people – predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa – live without access to electricity. Hundreds of millions more only have access to very limited or unreliable electricity. These same people are digitally disconnected. The digital divide exacerbates many pre-existing inequalities; we need to re-commit to equal access to technology and to SDG 4 on Quality Education, to empower women, youth and vulnerable groups.
Reducing the energy and digital divides simultaneously is necessary to both contain and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better.
In addition, investment in education and training is needed to support the acquisition of technological capabilities. Investment is required to meet the growing opportunities and challenges within the digital economy. International support for the LDC Technology Bank and LDC Fund should be increased, so that the LDCs have the tools to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
I am looking forward to the outcomes of this meeting, an important milestone on the road to Doha. Let me express my appreciation for the valuable support of Qatar as the host country.
As President of the General Assembly, my team and I stand ready to support you. I look forward to convening on June 18th, the Joint Thematic Event on the “Accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda in LDCs to leave no one behind in the context of COVID-19”, jointly with the President of ECOSOC.
The joint event is a key milestone on the road to Doha for LDCs to build consensus on how to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in LDCs. One of its main objectives is to further discussions on concrete ways to strengthen global partnerships for sustainable development crucial to realizing the ambitious objective of enabling half the number of LDCs to fulfill the graduation threshold. I am confident that our discussions in New York in this and other events will be enriched by the outcomes of this regional review meeting.
I thank you very much for this opportunity to address you today and wish you all the best for the remainder of this meeting.