It is a great honour and pleasure to participate in this meeting.
I thank you all for coming to this important Conference.
I especially thank Austria for sharing its valuable expertise as a landlocked country with the world. President [Heinz] Fischer is a great champion of this cause, and I appreciate his leadership.
We are here to renew our commitment to addressing the challenges of landlocked developing countries.
This is part of the United Nations’ broad campaign for the future of our planet and all people.
Next year will be critical. By 2015, we aim to accelerate our work for the Millennium Development Goals, shape a new vision for sustainable development, and achieve a universal climate change agreement.
This is ambitious, but it is possible – if we have international solidarity, including with landlocked developing States.
The world’s new plans to address global challenges must take account of conditions in landlocked developing countries.
At the same time, as you develop a new programme of action for landlocked developing countries, you need to take account of new global challenges.
Climate change. Mega disasters. Economic and financial crises. All these have an impact on your prospects.
This Conference can show the way forward for landlocked developing countries. And that will contribute to our global dialogue on the future development agenda.
There has been progress since the Programme of Action was adopted in Almaty eleven years ago.
Landlocked developing countries have exported more merchandise, and increased their share of trade.
But transportation costs are still high. Export income is limited, and imports are expensive.
This Conference should adopt a comprehensive, ambitious and results-oriented programme.
We need greater regional integration. This will strengthen trade ties. It will create more dynamic economic groupings. Regional integration can transform countries from being landlocked to land-linked.
Development partners should do more to help attract investment and forge partnerships between government and industries. And we need to facilitate more trade.
Landlocked developing countries also need help boosting agricultural productivity, adding value to products and improving marketing.
The services sector can make a big difference. The knowledge economy is thriving, with low – or no – transportation costs. Countries that provide services do not have to depend on commodities. And economies that diversify are less vulnerable to shocks.
Stronger partnerships will be vital on three levels.
First, between landlocked developing countries, transit countries and development partners.
Second, through South-South cooperation with other developing States.
And third, through international trade, investment and connectivity with the rest of the world.
The United Nations is helping with policy reforms and carrying out projects in landlocked developing countries around the world.
We are helping countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to compete and trade with each other. We are assisting African countries to diversify their products. We are supporting Latin American States to move their goods up the value chain. We are advising Asian countries on how to ensure that new trade opportunities advance human development.
It is difficult to capture the impact of the challenges and hopes of people in these countries in words – so we decided to run a photo contest.
The United Nations received more than 500 images in response to our call for photos of life in landlocked developing States.
They show people working in fields and factories, playing in the open air, and sharing moments with their friends. These photos are a reminder that this Conference is about more than negotiations and documents – it is about changing lives.
Let us join forces to help the world’s 32 landlocked developing countries and advance our common future.
Let us work together to make this world better where nobody is left behind.
Thank you for your commitment and leadership.