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UNGA Committee Addresses Challenges Faced by Countries in Special Situations

18 October 2010:  The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) met on 18 October 2010, in New York, US, to consider groups of countries in special situations, looking ahead towards the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 30 May-3 June 2010.

Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the LDCs, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), opened the session and introduced the UN Secretary-General's report on implementation of the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2001-2010 (document A/65/80–E/2010/77  and A/65/215), which says the Fourth Conference must focus on the specific vulnerabilities of LDCs, helping them to design and implement long-term development strategies as well as concrete measures to deal with country-specific vulnerabilities, including high risks from external shocks, including those resulting from climate change. The High Representative also introduced the report of the UN Secretary-General on implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries (document A/65/215).  The report reviews progress by landlocked developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and highlights some of the challenges confronting them, such as climate change. He stressed that inadequate transport infrastructure and the effects of climate change had put LDCs at a grave disadvantage, adding that the Almaty Programme of Action was a "holistic framework" for the establishment of genuine partnerships.

A number of speakers addressed the links among climate change, the MDGs and sustainable development. To expedite the progress of LDCs towards realizing the MDGs, Indonesia called for strengthening their productive capacity to, inter alia, promote agricultural development, strengthen resource mobilization, manage climate change, and ensure a "green deal" for LDCs. Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, Malawi, on behalf of the African Group, and Togo, underscored their vulnerability to climate change, stressing it hinders their progress towards the MDGs. In this respect, Paraguay and Malawi called for the support of the international community in the form of financing for development, technology transfer and capacity building. Burkina Faso emphasized that recurring floods and other adverse effects of climate change, including the disruption of crops and housing, were serious obstacles to development. Benin stressed that the environmental vulnerability of LDCs was exacerbated by climate change, although they contributed least to environmental degradation.

On financial issues, Timor-Leste stressed the need to amplify communication and dialogue with donor countries so as to increase the targeting and efficiency of resources to address climate change. Underlining the extreme vulnerability to climate change of SIDS, Maldives said they were among the least prepared to graduate from least-developed status.

Some speakers mentioned upcoming international conferences. Uganda called for the Istanbul outcome to spell out concrete measures to address the specific vulnerabilities of LDCs, including to climate change. Also in the context of the upcoming Istanbul conference, Belgium underscored the importance of key issues such as climate-based challenges and the marginalization of landlocked developing countries in global economic governance. Solomon Islands underlined the need to conclude a legally-binding agreement at the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, as a focused legal framework to help LDCs and SIDS. [UN Press Release]