Keynote Speech by the Hon. Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and the Leader of Nepali Delegation
at the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemoration of formation of the Group of the Least Developed Country
Doha, 5 March 2023
Theme: “50 years of LDCs: Building a New Generation of Partnerships for Progress”
Madam High Representatives and
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,
It is my honor to be part of this historic occasion marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Group of Least Developed Countries.
This moment has inspired me to hark back to the decolonization movement of 1950s and 60s, during which, the concept of “the least developed countries” evolved, while newly independent yet impoverished countries were trying to take the path of economic development.
Subsequently, in 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a group. LDCs were in need of special support measures for their development as they were unable to break vicious cycle of underdevelopment not only because of their own structural problems but also because of systemic problem of global economy.
Since then, LDCs are fighting an epic battle against poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and so many malaise of underdevelopment in collaboration with development partners including UN agencies. Some progress has been made in the last 50 years, yet the LDCs are still the ‘poorest and weakest segment’ of the global community. Only six countries have been graduated from this category so far. The pace of transformation is unacceptable. It is a common responsibility of global community.
Currently, forty-six LDCs host 50% of world’s poor. They account for 14% of world population but only about 1.3% of global GDP and less than 1% of global trade.
In 2019, they accounted for less than 4% of world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Yet over the last 50 years, 69% of worldwide deaths caused by climate-related disasters occurred in LDCs.
In this age of digital revolutions, barely one-fifth of the population in LDCs has access to the internet.
Mr. President, these are some of bitter facts, which reveal inherent inequality and injustice in the global system. And these facts are sufficient enough to remind us that our efforts in the past were acutely insufficient. Our efforts through four ten-year dedicated programs of action have not liberated the people of LDCs from the tyranny of poverty and de-privation.
However, lamentation will take us nowhere. Together, we must take actions.
In this critical juncture of history, we must move forward by ‘Building a New Generation of Partnerships for Progress’. Precisely, the Doha Program of Action is the basis for new generation of partnership.
Our road ahead is formidable in the face of complex and urgent problems.
We have to rebuild our economies from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have to implement DPOA in tandem with Agenda 2030.
We have to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Building stronger partnership is essential.
On the backdrop of these massive development challenges, let me put forth some of my thoughts.
First, solidarity is the key. We expect concrete and substantial support from our development partners in the spirit of shared responsibility and mutual accountability. We need to deliver results.
Effective implementation of the Doha Programme of Action is the test for LDCs, development partners and the United Nations System.
Second, LDCs are the battleground for Agenda 2030. We must win this battle by putting LDCs on the forefront of development agenda with adequate resources.
Third, structural transformation through building productive capacity and resilient infrastructure, trade diversification and connecting LDCs to regional and global value chains is critical to ensure sustainable development in LDCs.
Fourth, LDCs are in need of climate finance and technology in a substantial scale.
The unmet promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance must be realized with priority giving particular attention to LDCs.
The recently agreed Loss and Damage Fund marks a new dawn for climate justice. This must be implemented in good faith.
Fifth, there should be comprehensive reform of the global economic and finical system including Bretton Woods Institutions making sure the voice and representation of LDCs. The present global financial system is only amplifying systemic inequalities by rewarding the rich and punishing the poor countries. We must make the system that rewards the poorest first.
In addition, an enhanced level of support from the international community in the form of ODA, FDI, aid for trade, and technology transfer is equally important.
Sixth, we need to ensure incentive-based international support measures for graduating and graduated LDCs, including support for their smooth transition to make their graduation sustainable and irreversible.
To conclude, Mr. President, LDCs cannot afford another lost decade. We must turn the tide. Obviously, in partnership, we can turn the tide.
Let us solemnly commit ourselves at this historic 50th anniversary to build a new generation of partnership to enable all LDCs for early graduation so that they would be able to provide decent life for their people. LDCs cannot be a permanent status. Let us make the LDCs thing of the past sooner than later.
As a graduating LDC, Nepal remains committed to engaging constructively in realizing our collective aspiration.