Head of UNDP Africa at LDC focal points' workshop

Jul 30, 2014

Statement by Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, at the Opening Session of the Workshop for the National Focal Points of the Least Developed Countries on the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action; 27 July 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cotonou, Benin

I am most delighted to be part of this National Focal Points of the LDCs Meeting. UNDP has always being, and will continue to be, an important supporter of the course of LDCs.

The Least Developed Countries, as a group, is a rallying force for mobilizing global partners and actions in eliminating abject poverty, inequality and hunger; addressing marginalization in the world economy; and removing structural weaknesses; and other development challenges that face the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable countries and their people. This is more important now than ever when the middle income countries are drawing global support are attention because about 70 percent of the world’s poor people are located in these countries. Whereas most middle income countries have capacity to deal with most of these development challenges, and they are not as disadvantaged as LDCs.

The low level of human development, limited productive capacity, weak financial resources, and poor infrastructure continue to pose serious obstacles to the development efforts of the LDCs. This calls for a coherent and well-targeted attention to addressing these structural impediments and for ensuring peace, security and prosperity for all. The implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action provides a platform for considerable and targeted attention and support for LDCs.

Although this year’s theme is on “Productive Capacity”, I will like to enjoin member states that the eight priority areas of the IPoA are mutually reinforcing for IPoA to be an instrument of transformation. Other areas such as agriculture, food security and rural development; trade; commodities; human and social development; multiple crises and other emerging challenges; mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity-building; and good governance at all levels are crucial for meaningful development to be achieved.

Achieving the overarching objectives of IPoA depends on how the global community and LDCs perform their respective roles. The international community and their partners must renew and strengthen global partnership, enhance commitments, increase resource mobilization for LDCs’ development (including ODA, concessional loans and private flow of capital) and promote greater aid effectiveness. They must commit to enhanced policy coherence and strengthen their support for creating favorable environments for sustainable development in LDCs. This includes ensuring simple, transparent and predictable global trade and financial systems that facilitate LDCs’ market access and ensure LDCs’ accession to WTO. The development of innovative financial mechanisms whose application is less burdensome also remains critical.  

The experience of the past one year where many big banks, as a result of government regulators cracking  down on the financing of terrorists and drug traffickers,  are closing down avenues of medium size financial transfers to developing countries.  This is going to pose serious concerns to LDCs in terms of decline remittances and possibility of reversing years of declines in the cost of immigrants sending money home to their families. This may have negative impact on LDCs ability to mobilize non-traditional sources of financing.

The recent experience of graduating countries also requires the attention of the international community. Graduation from LDCs is a process and not an outcome. Even with graduation, several development challenges remain structurally inherent, which still require collective support to address. It should therefore not be a disincentive to graduating countries. Rather, graduation must come with an appropriate package of incentives and support measures to facilitate transition and consolidate development progress.  

Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, the support from international community alone, however, does not translate to meaningful development in LDCs if not backed up with national ownership, strong political will for development actions, good governance and strong development vision.  The starting point is the integration of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) into national development strategies, plans and programmes. We must ‘walk the talk” of the IPoA by ensuring the sectoral, macro and national programmes reflect the priority areas of IPoA with regular monitoring of milestones.

The LDCs themselves must be committed to sustained, inclusive and people-centred development. They must avoid low income trap tragedy by developing strategies that allow them to depart from their historical development path. This includes: (i) deepening fiscal space to enable sound macroeconomic fundamentals and a functioning developmental state take root; (ii)    development is beyond what the public sector could effective undertake – a strong alliance between public and private actors to promote external competitiveness and domestic economies of scale is critical; (iii) LDCs cannot continue to focus on primary commodities, structural transformation (from low to high productivity sectors) by  promoting  growth in new sectors – this is needed to avoid dependency syndrome;  (iv)  innovation still remains the currency of development, which can be used to address specific challenges and take advantage of unique opportunities facing emerging countries; (v) strengthen institutional frameworks to provide incentives for change and investment, including building the capacity of both the public and private sectors to deliver their mandates more efficiently and effectively.

The UN/DP has been a consistent partner of the LDCs. In addition to supporting forums like this, we always provided LDCs with multiple development options and mobilize partners to support the course of the LDCs. We have brought some of our Resident Coordinators and Country Directors, who have been supporting the mainstreaming of IPoA into national plans, policies and programmes to share their experiences with you. They have worked in many LDCs and MICs and will provide their various experiences and draw relevant lessons that will help in accelerating process on the Istanbul Programme of Action. For member states whose Resident Coordinators or Country Directors are not here, please feel free to consult with them when you return to your countries for possible collaboration and technical support on how they could support you in mainstreaming and implementing IPoA.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, development is like a moving train: LDCs cannot afford to be left behind. Neither can they assume the role of complacent passengers. They need to move from being ordinary passengers to being co-pilots. The above five point-agenda remain important requirements to assume the role of co-pilots in this development journey.

Thank you.

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