Statement by H.E. Ms. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations and Vice-President of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS on behalf of the LDCs at the annual session 2021 of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, 11 June 2021

Madame President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries.

I thank the UNOPS Executive Director, Ms. Grete Faremo, for her presentation on the work of UNOPS in the programme countries.

On behalf of the LDC Group, I commend her leadership and the courage and dedication of UNOPS staff globally in responding to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank UNOPS for prioritizing the needs of the LDCs in its work and we will count on its continued support.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the LDCs. Poverty and inequality has seen an alarming rise. Millions of children are out of school. The already fragile health infrastructure in many LDCs is facing tremendous challenge. The future seems increasingly uncertain. They need years of recovery effort to overcome the impacts and to get back on track.

Against this backdrop, we are preparing for the LDC5 Conference, which will adopt the Programme of Action for the LDCs for the next decade. This will also coincide with the Decade of Action and delivery of the Agenda 2030. The LDCs would need enhanced support from the development partners and the entire UNDS during this transformative decade. The UNOPS with its comparative advantage in infrastructure building can play an important role in assisting the LDCs to achieve their development priorities.

Let me highlight a few specific points in this regard:

First, the lack of quality infrastructure, especially in the areas of education and health was acutely felt by the LDCs during the pandemic. Therefore, it is an urgent priority for the LDCs to build adequate infrastructure in these areas.  The UNOPS can leverage its experience in this field to mitigate the vast infrastructure gaps in the LDCs.

Second, climate-vulnerable LDCs need to integrate disasters and climate change issues into their investment decisions to build long-term resilience against their vulnerabilities. UNOPS can assist LDCs in their efforts to build sustainable infrastructure and technology, to ensure rapid recovery from the pandemic, as well as better resilience against climate emergencies and future shocks.

Third, the pandemic has revealed the importance of digital infrastructure to provide vital services to people. LDCs need heavy investment in digital infrastructure and knowledge not only to reap the full benefits of ICT and other frontier technologies but also to accelerate recovery from the pandemic. We appreciate the efforts of the UNOPS to promote multistakeholder partnerships to support startup businesses and technology companies. We encourage UNOPS to build on this experience and further expand creative ideas and solutions in this field.

Fourth, the report of the UNOPS brought to the fore the barriers that women face to access to basic infrastructures such as education, health care, etc. We call upon UNOPS to support the LDCs mainstream gender and youth priorities in their investment decisions to ensure accelerated socio-economic mobility for women and the youth.

Fifth, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the weaknesses in the supply chain infrastructures in the LDCs. They need enhanced investments for building trade infrastructures including in the areas of transit, transportation, shipping, etc. E-business infrastructures is another area of high importance.  We call upon UNOPS to strengthen partnerships with LDCs in this regard.

Finally, the graduating and graduated LDCs are facing high risk of sliding back due to the pandemic. They need enhanced support in infrastructure projects to ensure sustainable graduation and resilience against current and future shocks, and the UNOPS can play an important role in this regard.

Let me conclude by reiterating the group’s support to UNOPS for further expanding its capacities and service coverage. I thank you.