Statement by Mr. Bharat Raj Paudyal, Foreign Secretary of Nepal, at the 20thAnnual Ministerial Meeting of LLDCs
New York, 23 September 2021
Theme: Partnering for sustainable recovery and accelerated implementation of the VPoA and SDGs in LLDCs
Mr. Under Secretary- General and the High Representative,
At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for organizing this meeting on such a pertinent theme.
I commend your dynamic leadership in steering our Group as the Chair in these trying times.
I would also like to thank USG and High Representative and his able team at UNOHRLLS for their hard work and contribution in promoting the interests of the LLDCs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everywhere and everyone. But, based on how the countries have responded to it, the world is divided into those who could endure the crisis and those who are still at its mercy.
Unfortunately, most of the LLDCs are in the latter category. The unprecedented impact of the pandemic on these countries is continuing unabated.
This has further compounded the pre-existing challenges such as excessive reliance on transit countries, low productive capacity, and poor connectivity.
With disruptions in the movement of goods and services to and from LLDCs, their trade competitiveness has further declined, poverty and food insecurity intensified, and their vulnerability to external shocks further exacerbated.
The pandemic has threatened to reverse our hard-earned development gains.
So, we must turn this around.
We must safeguard our achievements and strive to build back better and stronger.
But this will not be easy.
This is because the LLDCs are off-track to achieve the goals and targets set by VPOA and Agenda 2030.
Greater efforts will be necessary for the LLDCs to recover from the pandemic and rally on a growth path.
First and foremost, we must enhance productive capacity, diversify economy, build sustainable and resilient infrastructures, and upgrade connectivity to regional and global markets.
An enhanced level of international support measures in the form of ODA, FDI, aid for trade and technology transfer will be absolutely critical.
The international community must also support LLDCs’ efforts to control external shocks and adapt and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, among others.
The COP26 must take bold actions to address the needs and vulnerabilities of the countries like LLDCs.
Nepal has integrated the 2030 Agenda and VPoA into its national plans and programs with a vision to transform the country from a ‘landlocked’ to a ‘land-linked’ one.
The Government has prioritized the implementation of VPOA in synergy with the COVID-19 recovery plan, the 2030 Agenda and the other development frameworks.
We believe that only a scaled-up and renewed partnership between LLDCs, transit countries and development partners will help translate the promises of these internationally agreed development frameworks into reality.
We know, no one is safe until everyone is safe.
A resilient and sustainable recovery plan must therefore constitute the universal access to vaccines as an overarching priority.
LLDCs should not be left behind in this endeavor.
Sadly, only one percent of global COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed in LLDCs, the group of countries which are home to seven percent of the world’s population.
Vaccine is just one case of how the assistance and support measures provided to LLDCs fall short of the challenges they face.
It is high time that the UN System and broader international community realize this gap and strengthen support to the LLDCs.
Before I conclude, let me reiterate my firm conviction that we, the LLDCs, can change our destiny of being ‘prisoners of geography’ to ‘pioneers of prosperity’.
Our people deserve better, and we must renew our commitment to meet their aspirations.
All we need is a strong solidarity and cooperation among ourselves and greater support from our transit countries and development partners.
I thank you for your attention.