We are meeting in the midst of uncertain times brought on by the gravest crisis in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed serious disruptions to the global health and economy. The pandemic has revealed the high vulnerability of LDCs against such shocks. Job and income losses caused by the pandemic were totally unforeseen. GDP growth rate has fallen sharply. Exports and remittances have seen a major setback. Income inequality has exacerbated.
The 5th UN Conference on LDCs to be held in Qatar in January 2022, offers a timely opportunity to demonstrate international solidarity and partnership to help LDCs overcome these challenges. We must seize this opportunity in the true spirit of solidarity and multilateralism to map out a new and ambitious roadmap for LDCs.
Allow me to highlight a few areas where LDC-5 should put particular focus on:
First, [vaccines] access to vaccine is of utmost priority now. LDCs need affordable access to vaccines immediately for a faster, better, and resilient recovery.
Second, even with current pledges under the Paris Agreement, the world is heading towards at least a 3°C temperature rise this century. The climate vulnerable LDCs are bearing the heaviest brunt due to the increased frequency of natural calamities. It is imperative to scale up climate financing to help LDCs adapt and build resilience against the impacts of climate change; exacerbated by the pandemic.
Third, the overarching goal of the IPOA was to enable half of the LDCs meet the criteria for graduation. A record number of LDCs have made considerable progress towards that end. To sustain that momentum, the international community needs to agree on specific support measures for the countries in the graduation pipeline, as well as to those that have recently graduated.
Fourth, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in many LDCs is sliding back due to the diversion of resources for pandemic recovery. We expect the development partners, MDBs, and private sector to fulfil their unmet promises and come up with new LDC-specific commitments. It is imperative to scale up support for productive capacity building, job creation, aid for trade, trade facilitation, market access, bridging digital divides, and technology transfer to LDCs.
Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the poverty and income inequality situation globally. For the first time this century, we are experiencing a rising trend in extreme poverty, especially in LDCs. The income inequality is also widening. To overcome this situation, we need a new paradigm for collaboration. We must integrate a sustainable recovery path in the next POA that would complement our efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality in a holistic manner.
We must remember that LDCs are not only fraught with challenges. They also offer enormous human and natural resource potentials. With more than a billion people and a burgeoning youth population, LDCs can be the frontier market for global production, consumption, and value chain networks. Therefore, it is in our collective interest to bring the LDCs to mainstream development and the global economy. To that end, we look forward to agreeing on a new generation of development paradigm in LDC-5 that will stimulate growth, promote sustainable development, and eventually build resilience against economic, environmental and health related shocks.
Before I conclude, I would like to thank the Government of Qatar for its commitment and generous support to host the LDC5 conference in January 2022. I acknowledge with deep appreciation the invaluable contributions of the Government of Turkey for hosting the LDC4 conference and supporting the implementation of the IPOA.
I thank the Presidents of the General Assembly and ECOSOC for their initiative to host a joint event on LDCs in June 2021 which we believe would be an important contribution to our preparations for LDC-5. And I thank the UN Secretary General for his continued engagement to make the LDC5 Conference a success. Special thanks to USG, OHRLLS and her entire team for their invaluable support and cooperation. And I thank the Secretary of the Prepcom and her colleagues in the DGACM for their excellent support for the preparation of this meeting.
Ambassador Bob Rae and I look forward to working closely with all of you for an ambitious outcome of this process. We shall count on your support and active participation throughout the process.
I thank you.
I now invite my fellow Co-Chair, His Excellency Robert Rae of Canada to deliver opening remarks.