Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly
9 November 2021
It is with great pleasure that I welcome all of you to this first formal meeting of the Board of Advisers on the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States.
The purpose of this Board is simple:
- To identify avenues to push forward the priorities of LLS countries through strategic and expert advise on messaging.
- To leverage the combined power of the PGA’s good office in enhancing political will, as well as galvanizing global efforts to address the most pressing challenges faced by LLS.
It is my intention to be focused in our discussions here in the Board. In that regard, I would like today’s meeting to focus on the upcoming LDC5 conference, in the context of a sustainable recovery from COVID19.
I will also brief you on the preparations for my upcoming High Level thematic Debate on vaccines, which will be another opportunity to focus on the recovery of LLS countries.
When the pandemic took the world by surprise in 2020, it was countries in special situations that suffered the greatest.
With GDP contractions, disrupted supply chains, reduced investment and donor support, and market deficiencies, it was those furthest behind who were set back the hardest.
While developed nations responded with stimulus packages, the fiscal capacities of LLS nations did not afford them this luxury.
In fact, for the LLS group, the pandemic only further eroded fiscal and capital constraints to address other challenges, such as the ongoing climate crisis, or to make gains on sustainable development goals.
What was supposed to be the ‘Decade of Action and Acceleration on the SDGs’ has indeed become a ‘Decade of Recovery’.
Amongst the first priorities of recovering from COVID-19 must be ending the health impacts of the pandemic, and this means ensuring everyone has access to vaccines.
Unfortunately, as of October 25, no country among the 46 low-income nations has surpassed 40% vaccination coverage. This compared to 70 out of the 80 high-income nations surpassing the threshold.
Equal access to vaccines must be our goal in 2022. Let’s remind ourselves that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
The alternative is a virus that mutates and continues to spawn new variants in perpetuity, not only taking lives but holding back a much-needed global economic recovery process.
Given the priority, I am pleased to say that I will convene a High-Level Vaccine dialogue in early 2022.
The timing of the event will allow for a stock-take on progress, and will focus on building support towards universal vaccination.
We must come up with innovative solutions for vaccines to reach communities throughout the LLS group, particularly in remote areas or where there have been obstacles to supply, storage, and delivery.
We must encourage the international community to scale up financing and call for the development of targeted policy responses that will galvanize political will, and ensure that LLS groups achieve the global target for vaccination rate by 2022.
The guidance note with guiding questions have been shared with you in advance. I look forward to your views on these questions.
To bring us up to date on the preparations for the LDC5 Conference, the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS has kindly agreed to provide a short brief to this Board. I trust you will find this useful.
Sustainable recovery from the pandemic remains at the fore of the 76th session and be assured, my dear friends, that I remain committed to support and convene events that will ensure we achieve a sustainable recovery path.
While time is not a luxury we have, it is hope that will prevail. Hope that we can deliver vaccines to all, and hope that we will leave no one behind.
Once again, I thank you for joining me this afternoon and I look forward to your views and recommendations on this endeavor.
I thank you.
Throughout our disarmament efforts, it is my conviction that women and youth can make a meaningful contribution. Let us take special pains to ensure that women and youth, as well as civil society, are more actively engaged in this work going forward.