Statement delivered by Deputy Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Mr. Tareq Md. Ariful Islam at the Special Meeting of ECOSOC on “Innovations for Infrastructure Development and Promoting Sustainable Industrialization” on behalf of the LDC Group (UNHQs, New York, 31 May 2017)
Mr. President, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
I have the honor to deliver the statement on behalf of the LDC Group. We align with the statement made by Ecuador on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
At the outset, we would like to thank you for convening this Special Meeting of ECOSOC. Infrastructure and industrialization are important factors in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the LDCs. Hence, we need to engage more in discussions on innovations for infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization.
The 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognized that LDCs have enormous potential to contribute to the global economic growth and prosperity. The LDCs have achieved significant progress in socio-economic development. It is, however, also acknowledged that multiple structural challenges continue to obstruct the growth of the LDCs.
One of the major challenges is the absence of adequate resilient infrastructure in the LDCs. The lack of infrastructure is seriously hampering the economic diversification and social development in our countries. Similarly, industrial development is also critically important for LDCs for structural transformation, employment generation and sustained economic growth. Last but not least industrial development and value addition are essential for advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment as women are the major shareholder in MSMEs which drive the majority of LDCs’ business economy. It is, however, a matter of concern that during last one decade, the value-added share of manufacturing in LDCs remained stagnant at around 10 percent of the GDP.
The Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs provides a focused framework of actions to address the gaps in building infrastructure and in industrialization in the LDCs. The 2030 Agenda also puts emphasis on these as critical components of sustainable development.
It is a matter of concern that the state of science, technology and innovation in LDCs remains significantly poor. Disparities between the least developed countries and the rest of the world in the capacity to generate and apply S&T knowledge have been growing. While members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) spent on average 2.4 per cent of GDP on research, the amount dedicated to research and development in the least developed countries remain almost zero. Strong and dedicated international support is vitally important for LDCs to generate necessary innovation capacity of LDCs. The Technology Bank for LDCs is expected to facilitate our innovation capacity.
Building modern, sustainable and resilient infrastructure is one of the priorities of our Governments. Considering the importance of infrastructure in furthering social and economic development as well as in building resilience against the vulnerabilities aggravated by disasters and climate change, we need to invest more in the areas of infrastructure. Although our Governments are undertaking numerous infrastructure projects, we recognize that demands are much higher than what we can afford through domestic resource mobilization. Hence, we are making efforts to involve the private sector in developing infrastructure in our countries. Public-Private Partnership or PPP is an effective method that can address this gap in finance to a great extent. We also need to consider the benefits of regional infrastructure projects, particularly with regard to road and transport connectivity, energy and ICT, Tourism etc which can truly contribute to our development.
Various venture capital funds and pension funds from the global market can be an important source for financing SDG related infrastructure projects. The main challenge is, of course, the long-term nature of returns from the infrastructure projects as most of these funds are looking for short term profitability for their investment. Therefore, packaging infrastructure projects to make them attractive from profitability point of view is an important first step, coupled with increased engagement between states with bankable projects and the managers, owners and shareholders of these financial resources. Relevant UN Agencies, MDBs and IFC can help LDCs address this aspect and continue to support financing infrastructure projects.
LDCs need to undertake appropriate measures to significantly increase inclusive and environment-friendly industrialization with a view to enhancing the share of manufacturing in their total economic basket. We need to diversify local production and export capability with a focus on dynamic and high value-added sectors in agriculture and manufacturing. Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased FDI can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization in LDCs. Innovation and access to modern technology is also vitally important for our rapid industrialization.
I thank you.