Welcome Remarks by H.E. Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN at the LDC-V Pre-Conference Virtual Event “Leaving no one behind and building back better from COVID-19: The Future of Work in LDCs” on Thursday, 19 November 2020

Ambassador Perks Ligoya, Ambassador Alya Al Thani

USG Fekita Utoykamanu, DDG Moussa Oumarou

Distinguished Panelists, Madame Moderator,

Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues.

A very good morning and good afternoon to you all.  I know that some of you have joined from other time zones.

I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to this virtual pre-conference event on: “Leaving no one behind and building back better from COVID-19: The Future of Work in LDCs”.

I thank OHRLLS and ILO for organizing this very timely meeting, leading to our preparations for the 5th UN Conference on LDCs.

Today’s meeting is taking place at a time when globally we are passing through the second or third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic; and this makes our discussion today more relevant and urgent.

The impact of the pandemic is being felt without exception by most countries and sectors globally.  Lockdowns and workplace closures continue to disrupt labour markets.  Millions of jobs have been lost; and unemployment rates have reached an alarming level, not seen since the Great Depression.

Nearly 1.6 billion people engaged in the informal economy have lost their livelihood. The LDCs, where nearly 60 per cent of the labor force are employed in the informal sectors, including women, are particularly hard-hit. Workers there are vulnerable as they don’t have adequate social protection. Most have also lost access to productive assets. This situation is driving them into poverty, under-consumption, and hunger.

The disruption of the global supply chains and global demand shocks have posed an overwhelming challenge for LDCs’ export industries, tourism and migration sectors. In my country, millions of women in the export-oriented RMG sector have become jobless as their factories close down in the face of order cancellations.  This is a huge setback on women’s advancement as well.

If we look at labour migration, the impact would be long-lasting, deep and pervasive. New migration has slowed and return migration increased. For the first time in recent history, the stock of international migrants is likely to decline.  Remittance earning, which accounts for a major source of external finance and source of income for migrant households, is projected to drop by over 20% globally (according to the World Bank).

The pandemic has brought the global economy on the verge of a massive recession, unseen for our generation. Therefore, our recovery efforts should be comprehensive and ambitious. We must pursue a job-rich approach, backed by stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems.

Countries are introducing expansionary fiscal policies and massive stimulus packages. However, fiscal stimulus has been unevenly distributed, compared to the scale of labour market disruptions.

Some estimates suggest the fiscal stimulus gap at around US$982 billion in LDCs and other lower-middle-income countries.

Filling the stimulus gap in LDCs can only be achieved through greater international cooperation and partnerships. They would need further debt relief, scaled up official development assistance (ODA) and increased investment to overcome the ongoing health and labour market crises in their economies.

 Further innovative efforts would be needed. The recent initiative on Financing for Development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond led by the Secretary General, Canada, and Jamaica is very timely. Bangladesh co-led the discussion group on external finance, remittances, jobs and inclusive growth. Our collaborative work identified an ambitious menu of policy options for supporting better jobs in LDCs during this crisis and beyond. The UN decade of Action provides an opportunity to realize these menu options.

As we are having these discussions today, there is a glowing light at the end of the tunnel. We hope that the vaccine would be globally accessible to all.

I look forward to substantive and productive discussion this morning on the impact of the pandemic on labour markets in LDCs, and explore policy frameworks that could support recovery and resilience.   We have some distinguished guest speakers and a rich panel of experts; and I am confident that we will have a rich discussion.

Without further ado, I have the honour now to invite my good friend Ambassador Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations, to deliver her remarks as the host country of the LDC 5 Conference.