Statement to the Preparatory Committee for the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries
- Human Rights
- Natural Resources
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to the United Nations Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
First, I would like to say how good it is to see you in the Chair. As a Bureau member, I look forward to working closely with you and fellow Bureau members.
This week's meeting of the preparatory committee marks the beginning of the last stage of a challenging and important process as we head towards the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries. Ensuring that we leave Istanbul with a concise, focused, balanced and action-oriented outcome document – and an ambitious one – is a critical task that requires our full genuine commitment and support.
We need to collectively and carefully reflect on the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action over the last ten years, so we may clearly recognise what remains to be achieved for LDCs' development.
We need to be honest with ourselves about the constraints and obstacles that have resulted in far too few countries graduating from LDC status. We have to learn lessons from the successes and the challenges of the last decade. We must build on what has worked to renew our support for development in the poorest countries.
This week provides us with an opportunity for reflection and for setting the foundations for a renewed partnership against poverty. It's a chance for us to share lessons learned and best practice, and to identify policies that have been effective, at the national and international levels.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand are deeply concerned about the vulnerabilities and challenges that the group of least developed countries continue to face. It is essential that LDCs build their resilience to withstand shocks and crises in order to enable a more sustainable path to development.
We look forward to working with all member states to prepare an Istanbul Programme of Action which sets out priority specific actions in key areas to finally achieve the goals we have set for LDCs.
As we are often reminded by our colleagues from the Least Developed Countries group – there can be no true success in the MDGs without true development outcomes for LDCs.
CANZ would like to see an Istanbul Programme of Action beginning with a high-level political declaration, which would reaffirm and update the set of key principles for development.
In particular, we expect the declaration to stress the importance of strong national ownership and leadership, and the primary responsibility of LDCs themselves for their development.
With this in mind we expect the new outcome document to emphasise the importance of greater inclusion of LDCs in global processes, including a greater voice and benefits for LDCs in global economic architecture. We would also highlight the importance of partnership, solidarity, equity, harmonisation and mutual accountability.
CANZ would also like to see equal attention being given to what we see as the three pillars of sustainable development –the socio-political, the environmental, and the economic pillars. Enhancing productive and trade capacities of LDCs is instrumental, but likewise, human development is a prerequisite to inclusive and sustained economic growth.
In addition to a political declaration, we propose the Istanbul Programme of Action include concrete actions in a range of thematic areas. In considering this range of actions, we will need to put the emphasis on those actions that have proven to effectively address the yet unfulfilled objectives of the Brussels Plan of Action.
Action must be taken to enhance inclusive, sustained and equitable economic growth, including through building human resource and productive capacities, increasing the quality and quantity of necessary infrastructure, improving the business-enabling environment for increased domestic and foreign investment, increasing market access of LDCs in international and regional trading systems, and ensuring environmentally sustainable management of natural resources.
Agricultural productivity and rural development are essential to promoting economic growth in rural areas, to ensuring better food security and to promote stronger markets which can withstand shocks. Measures must be taken to promote sustainable practices in this sector.
Women play a catalytic role in development, and this needs to be reflected in the new Programme of Action.
It is important that LDCs become more resilient and able to mitigate shocks and other challenges that threaten to reverse development gains. Good governance, including strong, effective institutions, respect for human rights, partnerships with civil society and prevention of corruption are all essential elements for LDC development. Likewise, finding better ways to reduce the risk and effects of climate change, conflict, environmental degradation and financial shocks are critical, and should be prioritised.
These actions should be balanced and consistent with outcomes from other relevant processes, ensuring coherence and avoiding duplication of effort.
In concluding, I should note that, through our respective national policies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand remain strong partners for many Least Developed Countries' economic growth, including through cancelling LDC debt, supporting aid for trade, providing duty-free/quota-free market access, and setting commitments to untie development aid.
More specifically, both Australia and Canada have substantially increased their ODA to Africa, where the majority of LDCs are located, as well as committing to double our respective overall aid budgets.
New Zealand's own aid program retains a strong focus on the Pacific region, including a number of LDCs who, as isolated small island developing states, face particular vulnerabilities and challenges to development.
All three countries in CANZ are wholly committed to play an active and constructive role in the lead up to LDC IV, and to ensuring member states leave Istanbul with a renewed and genuine commitment to work in partnership with one another to lift the LDCs out of poverty.
We look forward to working with all our partners to reach a successful outcome, through this week and in coming months in the very short time we have available.
I thank you.