Zambia’s Ambassador to the United Nations and fellow ambassadors of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) this week held discussions with the UN Secretary-General designate António Guterres and his deputy Amina J. Muhammad, focusing on the developmental needs of LLDCs.
According to a statement released to the media by First Secretary for Press and Public Relations Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations Mr Chibaula Silwamba, Mr. Guterres and Mrs. Muhammad – the Minister of Environment of Nigeria, will take up office on 1st January 2017.
Secretary General Designate assured landlocked developing countries of his unwavering commitment to support their development needs.
He said it was his moral obligation to take up concerns of the countries in special situations, and faced with different vulnerabilities, such as LLDCs.
In aligning objectives of the LLDCs priorities with implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, Mr. Guterres said there was need for countries to focus on developing their own plans to realize the benefit of the outcomes in development framework.
He indicated that this was an area of work in which the UN system would engage in, and work with member countries.
The Secretary-General Designate said his office will take up the issue of water development, including Water Transport, as one of the key priorities during the tenure.
Mr. Guterres said reforms of the UN System was vital to ensure coordination and accountability.
He indicated that the issues pertaining to development will be coordinated by the Deputy Secretary General Mrs Muhammad, who is also acquainted with development needs of the LLDCs.
In responding to some of questions from LLDCs Ambassadors, Mr. Guterres encourage countries to focus on economic and regional integration, promoting competitiveness in primary and secondary sectors, optimum use of aid and strengthening partnerships.
Mr. Guterres said he had taken note of the LLDCs’ request to strengthen the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) on coordination of LLDCs matters.
Speaking on behalf of the Group earlier, in her capacity as chair, Zambia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative Her Excellency Dr Mwaba Kasese-Bota, urged Mr. Guterres to mobilise UN support and global partnerships towards addressing the needs of landlocked developing countries.
“We call upon you to give priority to our special needs especially in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the other development agendas,” she said.
Dr Kasese-Bota said LLDCs heavily rely on primary commodities, making them highly vulnerable to commodity price and demand volatility.
The Zambian envoy said many LLDCs have been experiencing deindustrialisation.
“The landlocked developing countries have an inherent lack of territorial access to the sea, which is the backbone of global trade. Hence our countries suffer remoteness and isolation from world markets, dependence on transit countries, additional border crossings, cumbersome transit procedures, inefficient logistics systems, and poor infrastructure, results in substantially higher transport and other trade transaction costs for the LLDCs when compared to coastal countries,” said Dr Kasese-Bota, adding that the 32 countries Group has a total population of about 470 million people.
“The LLDCs are also beset by other challenges such as joblessness, extreme poverty, declining productivity in agriculture, and limited resilience to internal and external shocks including the impact of climate change, desertification and land degradation.”
The Zambian Ambassador said the LLDCs currently account for a very low proportion of global exports of only one per cent, demonstrating their marginalisation from the global markets.
“The development of LLDCs is on average 20 per cent lower than what it would have been were the countries not landlocked. Studies have further shown that the high cost of transport and infrastructure challenges have cost the LLDCs as much as 1.5 to two percent of their growth rate per annum and volume of international trade of a landlocked developing country is about 60 per cent of the trade volume of comparable coastal countries,” said Dr Kasese-Bota.
And Deputy Secretary-General designate Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed highlighted the importance to implement the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, leveraging resources both public and private and the need to invest in youth in LLDCs.
Mrs. Mohammed previously served as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning during the Ban Ki Moon administration.