The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine war and rising costs are ‘severely and disproportionately affecting’ Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the President of the UN General Assembly told their annual ministerial meeting in New York.
“Even before the pandemic, many least developed countries were off-track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and had limited capacity to tackle complex challenges such as climate change or food insecurity,” Csaba Kőrösi said on Thursday.
While noting that those external shocks have “upended people’s lives, reversed decades of development gains, and destabilised governments around the world,”
he also pointed to “the good news” that we have the tools at hand to encourage transformation.
The Doha Programme of Action – adopted in March during the first part of the “pivotal” Fifth UN Conference on LDCs – provides an important blueprint for them to overcome the impacts of the global crises, Kőrösi said.
“It charts a path for LDCs to build resilience and realise the Sustainable Development Goals,” he continued, but “to get there – we must work together to ensure the Doha Programme of Action is implemented.” There is no time to waste, he added.
LDCs must do their part and in turn, development partners must follow through on their unequivocal commitment in the Doha Programme of Action, he continued.
“The 77th session will be key to shape the future we want.”
For his part, Kőrösi pledged that the LDC agenda would remain a priority of his Presidency.
As a start, the Assembly President shared his intention to reconvene the Board of Advisers for LDCs, landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and small island developing States (SIDS) for substantive inputs on the needs and priorities of those countries in the context of General Assembly processes and events.
He also flagged upcoming consultations to prepare for the SDG Summit in September 2023 and the Summit of the Future in 2024.
Moreover, the Assembly will assess SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation at the first UN Conference on Water to be held since 1977.
Additionally, it will focus on the Sendai Framework to “create a planet more resilient to disasters”.
“In all these efforts, integrated risk assessment, knowledge and management are essential,” he said, pledging his “utmost to support” in ensuring that those events are well prepared and lead to tangible outcomes.
Secretary-General António Guterres acknowledged via video message that the meeting takes place “at a moment of global peril” for which LDCs are “bearing the brunt”.
From conflicts to climate catastrophes, and unchecked poverty to widening inequalities and a global financial system stacked against LDCs, “the Doha Programme of Action reminds us that global recovery depends on these countries getting the support they need,” he said.
The UN chief advocated for “bold investments” in health, education, and social protection systems; financial architecture reform; job-creation, particularly in digital, care and green economies; gender equality for girls and women; and support to end fossil fuel reliance and jump-start a renewable energy transition.
“Sustainable development cannot wait,” he reminded.