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LDCs and Their “Graduation”

15. November 2022 - 23:23

By Alexa Sabatini, Julie Kim, Barbara Adams, and Karen Judd

Download this briefing (pdf version).

“Leave no one behind – these four words are the promise at the heart of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. This is the principle this UN body committed to… Today, not only do smaller Nations and younger democracies like Malawi still feel left behind but feel much farther behind than before.”

Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi at the 77th UNGA General Debate

The UN established the category of least developed countries (LDCs) in 1971, as many developing countries were navigating a path to development in the post-colonial period. The classification identified specific development challenges faced by these countries. As the UN ECOSOC Committee for Development Planning (renamed in 1998 Committee for Development Policy – CDP) acknowledged in 1971:

“[w]hile developing countries as a group face more or less the same general problems of underdevelopment, the difference between the poorest and the relatively more advanced among them is quite substantial…. The least developed among them cannot always be expected to benefit fully or automatically from such general measures adopted in favour of all developing countries. Some special supplementary measures are therefore called for to remove the handicaps which limit the ability of the least developed countries to derive significant advantages from the Second United Nations Development Decade.”

Criteria for the LDC classification and to “graduate” out of that classification have evolved over the last 50 years, as has the number of countries so designated. The path to graduation has become, implicitly and explicitly, a measure of successful development. There have been different iterations of graduation criteria, with multivariate indices to better capture the complexity of development progress in LDCs. The evolution continues as the CDP – primarily responsible for determining these criteria – adopted a work plan to evaluate the process at its 2022 annual meeting. The CDP is a 24-member subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) set up to provide independent advice to the Council on development policy issues.

Concomitantly, UN Member States adopted the fifth decade-long blueprint for LDC development in March 2022: the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA). To address the graduation challenges, the DPoA established targets that “i. enable 15 additional LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2031. ii. Improve the scope, where necessary, and use of smooth transition measures and incentives for all graduating LDCs. iii. Provide specific support measures to recently graduated countries for making the graduation sustainable and irreversible” (para 312). It also welcomed the establishment of a Sustainable Graduation Support Facility “as a concrete country-led solution of dedicated capacity development support” (para 319).

To date, there have been four UN conferences to support LDC development. The fifth LDC Conference (LDC5) scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar in January 2022 was split into two parts due to the impact of COVID-19: 17 March 2022 for the formal adoption of the DPoA and 5-9 March 2023 for the five-day conference in Doha. The rescheduled fifth LDC Conference in 2023 provides a timely occasion to plan a quality review of the implementation of the DPoA that extends beyond ticking off a mid-term checklist as well as evaluating the relevance and quality of the metrics used, and support required on the path to graduation.

This briefing is a backgrounder on the dynamics of the graduation process from the LDC category. It addresses the developments, challenges and possible next steps of a process that provides either a path or a roadblock for sustainable development in LDCs.

Six key focus areas of the Doha Programme of Action to support sustainable graduation:

  • Eradicating poverty and building capacity to leave no one behind
  • Leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation to fight against multidimensional vulnerabilities and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Supporting structural transformation as a driver of prosperity
  • Enhancing International trade of least developed countries and regional integration
  • Addressing climate change, environmental degradation, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and building resilience against future shocks for risk-informed sustainable development
  • Mobilizing international solidarity, reinvigorated global partnerships and innovative tools and instruments: a march towards sustainable graduation

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When the LDC category was created in 1971, the number of LDC countries defined as those with GNI below US $2018 was 25. By 2003, the number had grown to 50, and soon thereafter to 52. By 2020, only six countries had graduated: Vanuatu (2020), Equatorial Guinea (2017), Samoa (2014), Maldives (2011), Cabo Verde (2007) and Botswana (1994), leaving 46 countries still in the group. Over the last two decades, LDCs have made considerable progress in reducing poverty and improving structural development. LDCs have also implemented effective policies to prevent the severe spread of COVID-19 within their countries.

The 2021 State of the LDCs OHRLLS Report outlined progress LDCs had made in a number of target areas of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), that was adopted in 2011. These include: access to information and communications technology (ICTs); sustainable energy; health; education; gender; and governance. However, the pandemic hampered the development gains of the IPoA, along with the progress toward graduation. Additionally, a number of targets remain unmet, with gaps between the LDCs and other developing countries continuing to increase, calling into question the very definition of development and the concept and criteria of their graduation.

LDC Designation and Graduation

The CDP, mandated since 1998 to review the progress of LDCs and determine graduation readiness, undertakes such a review triennially. Following a comprehensive review in 2020, the CDP refined LDC graduation criteria so that currently, LDCs must meet a HAI of 66 or above, an EVI of 32 or below, a GNI per capita of US$1,230 or above (US$2,460 for an income only criterion), across two triennial reviews to qualify for graduation. Graduation does not have to be approved by the LDCs but does take country concerns into consideration.

International Support Measures for LDCs

Unlike the Low-Income Countries designation of the Bretton Woods Institutions, the UN category approach includes commitments of the LDCs, and crucially, of their “development partners” in the form of International Support Measures (ISMs). LDC specific support measures are centered on three targets: international trade, development cooperation, and participation in international forums. Following are some of the support measures which graduation from the LDC category impacts, altering the amount and types of support offered during and after graduation.

  • Official Development Assistance (ODA) is a critical source of external financing for LDCs, and for many of them the largest source of external public finance. However, commitments have consistently been unmet and, according to UNCTAD, reduce “aid effectiveness and the building of LDC state capacity to deliver on the PoAs and other development goals”. As described in the CDP’s Handbook on LDCs, “ODA includes grants, ‘soft’ loans and the provision of technical assistance, and can be provided bilaterally, from donor to recipient, or channelled through multilateral organizations such as the United Nations or the World Bank. LDCs received 24 per cent of total ODA disbursed by DAC countries in 2018-2019.” Nevertheless, the quantity and quality of commitments varies markedly from the providers of ODA, affecting the grant element and untied aid, for example.
  • The United Nations Development Fund (UNDF provides several financial resources dedicated to LDCs; however, graduation can affect the amount and loan terms of these resources as well.
  • Countries will lose access to the LDC Fund under the Global Environmental Facility upon graduation, reducing their access to climate financing.
  • Graduating LDCs are also expected to transition out of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization: Angola and Bhutan, expected to graduate in 2024, have already transitioned out of the Global Alliance, while São Tomé and Príncipe and the Solomon Islands are in the alliance’s accelerated transition phase.
  • The Technology Bank for LDCs, established in 2018, assists countries in the production of research, capacity development and strengthening academies of science within LDCs. Graduating countries lose access to the bank after five years.
  • The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) supports LDCs by providing assistance in national planning and implementation strategies that build trade capacities that drive development and facilitate a smooth integration into the global trading system. Like the Technology Bank, graduating LDCs lose access to EIF support after a five-year period, on top of the phasing out of preferential treatments under WTO rules, such as duty-free and quota-free market access.
  • The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) offers LDCs “last mile” finance methods to unlock public and private resources to support economic development. Post-graduation, UNCDF financing is provided for another three years. UN organizations and conventions ensure that LDCs are eligible for travel benefits to maintain their participation in LDC processes; but these too are limited to three years after graduation.

COVID-19 and LDC Graduation

According to UNCTAD’s 2021 LDC Report, “[as] the economies of ODCs [other developing countries] and developed countries recover from the pandemic shock, many LDCs risk being left behind… and face a risk of a lost decade of development and of remaining on the margins of the global economy. They may spend the coming years just trying to recover from the COVID-19 shock and eventually achieve little real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals during the 2020s.”

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the CDP in their 2021 triennial review approved an additional five-year preparatory period for four countries scheduled to graduate from the LDC category: Bhutan in 2023, and Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe and Solomon Islands in 2024. The five-year extension will allow for a fuller analysis in the 2024 triennial review, on the effectiveness of this period in managing the impact of the pandemic, or whether another extension is needed. The CDP identified Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Nepal for graduation in 2026, but recommended deferral of Myanmar and Timor-Leste until 2024. Similarly, while the CDP endorsed Kiribati and Tuvalu for graduation, ECOSOC deferred decision until 2024. Cambodia, Comoros, Djibouti, Senega and Zambia all met the graduation criteria for the first time; if they meet the thresholds for a second triennial review in 2024, they will be considered for graduation by the CDP.

Despite the lack of data on the full impact of the pandemic, neither ECOSOC nor the CDP had originally postponed the 2021 Triennial Review. In an October 2020 letter, Third World Network, a global civil society organization based in Malaysia, urged Ambassador Ligoya of Malawi to request a deferral for the 2021 CDP Triennial Review. The letter highlighted “the gigantic impact of the crisis and the inability to assess the totality of impacts at this point, [making] the Review rather presumptive and at the least unscientific. The review will be based on data up to 2019 with, at best, limited data on COVID-19 impacts in 2020. This will not even begin to catch the full impact of the crisis on LDCs that may be recommended for graduation.”

To address the pandemic’s lopsided impacts on LDCs found in its 2021 Triennial Review, the CDP identified three critical adjustments for successful graduation amid the crisis: an extended preparatory period of five years to address the health and economic impacts; a review of the pandemic’s impact on each LDC; and additional international assistance, including the extension of LDC support measures, addressing the effects of the pandemic, and increasing capacity building.

The CDP subsequently conducted a comprehensive study on the impacts of the pandemic on LDCs and concluded that “significant negative impacts of the pandemic must be factored into the graduation process” to address additional demands that arise during planning, interruptions to ongoing structural transformation processes, and LDC specific international support measures, both existing and new, in which development partners play an important role.

Continued Evolution of the Graduation Process

In the current graduation process, when a country is identified for graduation eligibility, UNCTAD drafts a country vulnerability profile and DESA prepares an ex-ante impact assessment. The CDP then consolidates the reports into one assessment, taking into account the LDC criteria and country-specific factors. The CDP also determines the length of the preparatory period before graduation, recommends priorities and the type of support needed for a smooth transition to be confirmed by ECOSOC. During years 3-6 of the graduation process, the country finalizes and implements its smooth transition strategy and reports to the CDP. After year 6, graduation becomes effective, and the country is no longer classified as an LDC. Following graduation, the country will continue to monitor its transition strategy and report back to the CDP annually for the first three years and triennially after two triennial reviews.

Both LDCs and UN entities recognize the importance of international development support during this crucial period. OHRLLS established the UN Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in 2017 for LDC graduation, which works in collaboration with other UN agencies and international organizations. To assist LDCs to adapt development strategies and minimize risks of premature graduation, IATF called on development partners to strengthen aid mechanisms for transition that prevents deviation from graduation trajectories. It emphasizes the need to guarantee that the country’s transition is aligned not only with its development strategy, but also its development situation.

However, in the lead-up to LDC5, LDCs consistently expressed their concerns about losing LDC specific support measures post-graduation. In November 2020, the Group of LDCs submitted a proposal (WT/GC/W/807) to the WTO General Council for the creation of an effective smooth transition mechanism (STM) for graduating countries. The proposal calls for a 12-year extension of LDC-oriented technical assistance, capacity building programmes, and facilities that are provided under the WTO system for graduated countries. Smooth transition strategies are a critical tool for ensuring a sustainable graduation. They identify the loss of LDC benefits, such as interest-free loans and trade preferences, and effective responses to crisis situations, and then adjust institutional and legal frameworks to align with international obligations. STMs are, however, still limited as they do not extend existing support mechanisms to assist graduating LDCs.

Special & Differential Treatment at the WTO

[The] Group of 90 developing and least-developed countries expressed grave alarm at the World Trade Organization on 23 September over continued “disengagement” by the major developed countries on improving special and differential treatment (S&DT) for realizing their development goals. [At] a time when the gains made by most of their economies are being reversed because of the “poly crises,” there has been no constructive engagement by the major industrialized countries. [They] are now forced to “contend with external shocks such as rocketing inflation, and the food and energy crises, and balance of payment challenges, among a host of threats to their economic recovery and development aspirations.”

“This confluence of global economic shocks will disproportionately affect developing countries, including LDCs, for decades to come,” the G90 countries argued.

The group said that “the Ministers’ commitment at the Twelfth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the WTO (MC12) and an objective appreciation of the current global economic environment and its challenges provides an opportunity for WTO Members to frankly reflect on the efficacy of policy tools within WTO agreements and to ask the all-important question whether they are congruent with the commonly stated desire to ensure that …trade be conducted with a view to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment, pursuing sustainable development of Members, and enhancing the means for doing so in a manner consistent with Members’ respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development”.

(Excerpts from TWN SUNS #9655 dated 28 September 2022)

UNCTAD maintains that development continues beyond graduation, and that development success is tied to the foundations that countries are able to create during their graduation phase. It asserts that pre- and post-graduation strategies must be synchronized to promote a sustainable graduation and long-term development. In its 2021 Strategy for Graduation with Momentum (SGM), UNCTAD proposed a new objective policy framework for graduation strategies, as well as a new timeframe for the implementation of the strategy. The SGM is centered on three elements: expanding productive capacities; fostering structural transformation; and catching-up with developed countries. The SGM aims to counter the growing gap between LDCs and ODCs.

The CDP also upholds the need for development and trading partners to extend LDC specific support, phase-out measures gradually, and provide assistance throughout the entire graduation and smooth transition process to mitigate existing challenges that often continue after graduation. It recommends that trading partners consider market access alternatives, like free trade agreements and preferential market access arrangements, to continue post-graduation, and extend specific measures for graduating nations through bilateral and regional trading agreements.

The Productive Capacities Index and UNCTAD

In February 2021, UNCTAD developed the Productive Capacities Index (PCI) to support productive capacity building in developing countries. The PCI scores a country’s development capacities by analysing its effective strategies. As a multi-dimensional index, the PCI aims to support the implementation of holistic and evidence-based policies, while considering the effectiveness of previous policies. It identifies gaps and limitations that hinder productive capacity building and structural transformation in LDCs. The index considers: human capital, natural capital, energy, transport, ICTs, institutions, private sector, and structural change.

An August 2021 UNCTAD Policy Briefing detailed the role of institutions in capacity building. To support strong institutions and policies in LDCs, the paper advocated for: institutional tools to implement effective policies, utilizing the PCI to monitor development progress, conduct gap assessments, increase efforts for institution building, establish advisory bodies on policy formulation, improve public and private sector collaboration, foster greater inclusion of non-governmental actors in policy development, and increase institutional coordination.

(For the latest from UNCTAD: LDC Report 2022)

A CDP background paper on working towards a resilience building framework further highlighted the need for better monitoring of graduating and graduated countries, urging that HAI and EVI be maintained as Crisis Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) indicators to guide decision making throughout the graduation process. It called for enhanced monitoring of pandemic effects in graduated countries and strengthened support for the graduation process, including establishing a crisis response and management mechanism, and rapporteurs for each graduating and graduated country.

The Secretary-General in a 2021 report addressed these two concerns regarding STMs and monitoring. The report identified the need for technical assistance and capacity building to avoid financing gaps or debt traps and proposed a crisis response process to be included in the annual monitoring cycle to analyse the impacts of shocks on the smooth transition strategy. It particularly identified LDC5 as an opportunity for the international community to adopt improved aid mechanisms, especially regarding concessional finance and innovative financing measures. The conference will also be an opportunity for the UN system, OHRLLS, and resident coordinators to step up and commit to increased support toward LDC graduation.

With the pressure of coping with climate, conflict, food and debt crises added to the already precarious circumstances of LDCs, graduation and how it is facilitated are critical for LDC development that adheres to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. Speaking at an LDC5 preparatory meeting in the Asia-Pacific region, Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, explained: “Transformative development is on the horizon but strong support to realize it is urgently needed…. LDCs and their international partners must collaborate to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle the climate crisis, but also provide specific support for LDCs to graduate smoothly out of the Least Developed category.”

In response, the CDP established an enhanced monitoring mechanism, called for by the 2022 DPoA for LDCs, which purports to better respond to emerging crises and link monitoring to specific support. To complement existing national and international monitoring processes by focusing on the impact of crises on the smooth transition out of the LDC category, the mechanism is meant to be closely linked to a country’s own monitoring of its smooth transition strategy. The monitoring mechanism consists of three main elements: improved annual monitoring, the new crisis response process and strengthened support measures linked to the monitoring.

The crisis response process enables monitoring to react quickly to a crisis situation in a graduating or graduated country. It can be triggered by the country directly or through the UN resident coordinator, or by way of an automated trigger, using a set of agreed upon crisis indicators. The CDP country rapporteur then assesses the situation and its potential impact on graduation, and advises whether additional, crisis-specific graduation support measures may be needed.

At its 24th session in February 2022, the CDP elaborated on this mechanism and reported monitoring the development progress of one recently graduated country, Vanuatu, and seven graduating countries: Angola, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nepal, Sao Tome and Principe and Solomon Islands. It also reached out to countries whose graduation had been deferred, namely, Kiribati and Tuvalu, to discuss development challenges.

The 2022 report acknowledged that owing to multiple crises, all of these countries find it difficult to maintain macroeconomic stability. With reduced fiscal space, it is hard for them to prioritize both short-term recovery and long-term sustainable development, potentially involving policy trade-offs. The enhanced monitoring mechanism would provide another layer of protection against crisis situations arising from these external pressures on LDCs by identifying potential issue areas and mitigation measures.

There are multiple crises facing LDCs, existing prior to and beyond the pandemic, including the alarming and accelerating increase in global warming, natural disasters, armed conflict and related crises of hunger and food security. While these multitude of crises impact all countries negatively, the detriment is exponential for LDCs with their manifold and specific vulnerabilities. This risks LDCs straying from the DPoA goal of “accelerating the number of least developed countries reaching the graduation thresholds and for ensuring sustainable and irreversible graduation” (para 265), and already graduated countries will no longer meet the criteria and in fact, slide back. With the DPoA target of another 15 to meet the graduation criteria by 2031 and more than a third of LDCs in various stages of the graduation process, the CDP is “deeply concerned that a significant number of least developed countries, particularly those in Africa, will remain far behind and struggle to achieve graduation”.

With many unknown variables in this perennial state of crises, it will be important for the graduation criteria to be reviewed and updated to be fit for purpose: a sustainable and irreversible graduation – and more importantly, sustainable development – of all LDCs. The external stressors of interlocking crises disproportionately burden the “poorest and most vulnerable,” as the UN Secretary-General underlined in his address to the 2022 General Assembly and pose a challenge to the global system that is “a case study in moral and economic injustice.”

The post LDCs and Their “Graduation” appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

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CSO Participation at the UN: Perspectives on CSO Engagement in UN Processes

3. November 2022 - 22:13

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This GPW Round Up #3, CSO Participation at the UN: Perspectives on CSO Engagement in UN Processes, highlights some insights, analyses, commentary and advocacy regarding civil society organizations engaging in UN multilateral processses. From the Member States to the UN Secretary-General, CSOs are frequently exalted as an integral part of multilateral policy-making processes; yet, whether their calls and analyses are genuinely heeded is up for debate. Some Member States and CSOs have called for improvements in CSO participation, supported by recommendations from experts on reforms to CSO engagement.

The Round Up features comments and debates by the Secretary-General, Member States and CSOs, along with sharp criticisms from CSOs on the increasing influence of the corporate sector [in the UN] and the roadblocks to meaningful and inclusive CSO participation. It links analyses to relevant recommendations of the UN Secretary-General’s report, Our Common Agenda, recommendations that are being debated by Member States as they lay out the UN agenda for the next three years.

The post CSO Participation at the UN: Perspectives on CSO Engagement in UN Processes appeared first on Global Policy Watch.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

2022 UN General Assembly High-level Debate: perspectives from the Global South

1. November 2022 - 15:16

The GPW Team

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In September 2022, heads of state and government spoke at the UN Headquarters on the theme “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges”.

Secretary-General António Guterres’s message was clear: “Our world is in peril and paralyzed”. He launched the High-level General Debate bluntly: “Our world is in big trouble. Divides are growing deeper. Inequalities are growing wider. Challenges are spreading farther.” He urged, “We need action across the board.”

“Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging. Trust is crumbling. Inequalities are exploding. Our planet is burning. People are hurting – with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy. We have a duty to act.”

These concerns reverberated throughout the high-level session. This briefing contains a sampling from countries of the Global South.

(All statements can be viewed at the official UNGA 77 General Debate archive or this playlist. Most written statements are also available on the official archive.)

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Growing inequalities highlight the unjust system

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados: “We live in a world… where the disparity in income is too great. And we live in a world where some are even benefitting from the crises disproportionately and egregiously. We must ask ourselves therefore whether the time has not come for a review of the settlement of the Bretton Woods institutions that no longer serve the purpose in the 21st century that they served when they were catering to a quarter of the nation states that are now members of this institution.”

President Alberto Fernández of Argentina: “Is it right that the fortune of only 10 men is greater than the income of 40 percent of the global population? Is it ethical that the pandemic claimed four times more lives in the poorest nations than in the rich ones? Not speaking out against this model of accumulation that places income in the hands of the few while millions remain plunged in poverty may make us complicit in simply strengthening this inequality. We have arrived in time to halt several of the threats facing humankind, the injustices that we are nothing will only worsen if extreme positions are allowed to take root. If wars continue over time allowing hunger to take root and if persistent inflation persistently corrodes the income of the weakest among us. We must work together and strengthen cooperation-based multilateralism.”

President Gustavo Petro of Colombia: “For power relations in the world, the jungle and its inhabitants are those responsible for the plague that afflicts them. …The relations of power are plagued by the addiction to money, to perpetrate themselves, an addiction to oil, to cocaine and harder drugs that can serve to anesthetize them. There is nothing more hypocritical than the discourse of saving the jungle.

“…Climate disaster will kill hundreds of millions of people [and] it is not produced by the planet it is produced by capital. The cause of climate disaster is capital. The logic of relating ourselves to consume more and more to produce more and more and for some to earn more and more money produces a climate disaster.”

Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize: “Our current systems and institutions, conceived for World War II recovery, are straining under the weight of today’s crises. In truth, they are broken and stand impotent in the face of the 3Cs – COVID, climate, and conflict… We urgently need a new global financial architecture that has the willingness and capacity to identify systemic threats, like debt, climate risk, and devise tools that are commensurable to the challenge. It should be dedicated to achieving the SDGs, Net Zero emissions and to build resilience… We call on IFIs, MDBs to use the MVI (Multidimensional Vulnerability Index)”.

This was echoed by Prime Minister Terrance Drew of Saint Kitts and Nevis: “This situation cries out for the multilateral system to urgently put in place a multidimensional vulnerability index, which takes into consideration the peculiar characteristics and climate vulnerabilities of small island developing states such as mine. All countries are environmentally vulnerable; all are socially and economically exposed to exogenous shock, but in the climate-challenged, tourism-dependent countries in the Caribbean Sea, during several consecutive months of every year, run the real risk of a wipe out event.”

President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles: “We cannot continue to rely on temporary solutions to address the systemic faults within the existing development cooperation mechanisms. If this is to be a watershed moment, we must put into practice real solutions that focus on addressing vulnerabilities and building resilience to ensure socio-economic sustainability.”

Does Debt Crisis require new financial architecture?

“We need a reformed financial architecture that benefits developing countries, providing critical financing and debt relief,” urged the Secretary-General in his address at the opening of SDG Moment during the high-level week. “This is the only sustainable pathway to address the obscene inequalities that exist in every country, while ensuring that the world doesn’t slide into a recession.” With only eight more years to the end of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he reiterated the urgency for commitments and measure for successful SDG implementation.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob of Malaysia: “In an international financial and monetary structure that is still dominated by a few major powers, as well as during the world economic recovery, domestic monetary decisions have to be adjusted by considering the reality and needs of developing countries. In this connection, Malaysia urges the UN Member States to establish an International Monetary Cooperation Mechanism to build a more effective and just system that is able to balance the needs of global development.”

Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize: “The current tentative, reactionary and piecemeal approach to addressing the debt problem has proven hopelessly ineffective. We must break the pernicious cycle between debt and climate and disaster risk. IFIs must incorporate climate risk into debt sustainability tools.”

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana: “…there must be an immediate re-examination of the financing gap and the debt portfolio of developing countries to open fiscal space and create an opportunity for recovery and bridging the gap.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados asked the IMF to consider delinking the resilience and sustainability trust which will require “more countries seeding that fund with capital and more countries agreeing perhaps to allow their Special Drawing Rights to be used there, just as we ask them to allow those Special Drawing Rights to be used to allow multilateral development banks to significantly increase the money available,” particularly now as we face “a debt crisis where more than 45 countries” are in debt because of increased borrowing costs caused by inflation.

Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize: “The IMF is largely devoid of ways to quantify consequential climate impacts on public debt and countries’ capacity to pay. The IFI’s obstinate focus on primary balances and debt to GDP ratios ignores the empirical evidence that nature is in revolt. Incredibly, a recent analysis revealed that of the 80 IMF-funded Country Programmes around the world, climate was central to the country assessment in only a single case – Samoa… I ask, how much longer will this new ‘climate colonialism’ punish the victims and spare the victimizers?”

President Akufo-Addo of Ghana: “The spillover from central banks raising interest rates to combat inflation has been severe beyond borders, as global investors pull money out of developing economies to invest in bonds in the developed world. This has led to depreciating currencies and increased borrowing costs; meaning we need to raise and spend more of our own currencies to service our foreign debts in US dollars….

“It has become clear, if ever there was any doubt, that the international financial structure is skewed significantly against developing and emerging economies like Ghana. The avenues that are opened to powerful nations to enable them take measures that would ease pressures on their economies are closed to small nations. To make matters worse, credit rating agencies have been quick to downgrade economies in Africa, making it harder to service our debts. The tag of Africa as an investment risk is little more than, in substance, a self-fulfilling prophecy created by the prejudice of the international money market, which denies us access to cheaper borrowing, pushing us deeper into debts.”

Climate and food crisis go to issue of power imbalances

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan: “Pakistan has never seen a starker and more devastating example of the impact of global warming,” he said, referring to the 40 days flooding that has pushed a third of the country under water. Pakistan is one of the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries that emit less than 1 percent of the greenhouse gases that are burning the planet. “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he stated, warning that unless world leaders act now “there will be no earth to fight wars over”.

President William Ruto of Kenya: “The world is facing the consequences of climate change. In Kenya, 1.3 million residents have become food insecure. Lowered agricultural output, water scarcity and starvation are looming.” In the lead-up to the COP, he urged member states to not waste time to demonstrate political will to cooperate and share technologies — to jointly usher in a “new paradigm in multilateralism”.

Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinal of Thailand highlighted the need to strengthen multilateral action to address the global food crisis: “It is vital to keep our global supply chains open for seamless cross-border flows of food, fertilizers, and essential goods.”

President Gabriel Boric of Chile: “Our country, as many of yours, many of the Global South, is responsible for a minimum of GHG emissions – in our case it’s only 0.24 percent, while the largest economies of the G20… produce 80 percent of GHG emissions. This inequality…is an inherent threat to democracy because it breaks society apart, it destroys social cohesion and therefore hampers understanding and building a freer, more fair future together…I invite you to plan ahead in the search for greater social justice, to better distribute wealth and power.”

Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize: “Belize is ranked 8th out of 183 on the Global Climate Risk Index. We are but one hurricane away from catastrophe. Yet financing needed for climate adaptation remains woefully inadequate; only about a quarter of all climate finance goes to adaptation.”

President Gustavo Petro of Colombia: “I call on you to save the Amazon jungle with the resources that can be devoted to life throughout the world. If you do not have the ability to finance the fund to revitalize the jungle, if it is more important to devote money to weapons than to life, then let us reduce external debt to release our own state budgets, so we can carry out the task of saving humanity and life on the planet.”

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob of Malaysia stated that climate is a universal problem which affects all: “Developed countries must fulfil their annual commitments to provide US $100 billion unconditionally.” He then called for developing countries to have “new, fair, inclusive and affordable technology which facilitates their greener and more sustainable socioeconomic development.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Dussey of Togo: “We ardently hope that the next COP 27, to be held 7-18 November 2022 in Egypt, will help to genuinely place back at the heart of international priorities the preservation of the environment, by incentivizing stakeholders to honour their financing pledges, which are necessary to tackle global warming and climate change.”

Prime Minister Adriano Afonso Maleiane of Mozambique: “Climate change places Mozambique under permanent surveillance. In recent times, our country has been cyclically and intensively affected by depressions, tropical cyclones, rains and strong winds, floods and droughts that have caused loss of human lives, displacement of persons, extensive damage to infrastructure and socio-economic activities… between 2019 and 2022, Mozambique was hit by cyclones Idai, Kenneth, Guambe, Chalane, Ana and Gombe.” He added that, in response, Mozambique joined countries of the southern region of Africa and cooperation partners to set up in Nacala-Porto the Center for Humanitarian and Emergency Operations of the Southern African Development Community.

President Mohamed Irfaan Ali of Guyana: “According to the World Bank and Global Trade Alert, between January – June 2022, 135 policy measures were announced or implemented that affected trade in food and fertilizer… During the same period, 34 nations imposed restrictive export measures on food and fertilizers.” He asked, “Whether globalization is only applicable under normal conditions or whether it is opportunistic in its application and when a crisis arises, we lock ourselves in and forget about multilateralism and globalization.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry of Egypt: “Unfortunately, in Africa alone, one in every five [people] are at risk of hunger and the continent remains a net food importer at an annual cost of US$43 billion. In this vein, we reiterate the need to address this crisis through an integrated strategy that tackles its root causes,” by addressing, among others, “sustainable farming and food systems and meet the urgent needs of food importing developing countries” and “support[ing] the developing countries and the LDCs in their efforts to confront the devastating impact of climate change [as they] are the most deserving of such support, based on the principles of equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.”

President Akufo-Addo of Ghana: “Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa.” As global inflation soars, “Ghana is experiencing the highest rate for 21 years, with high food prices hurting the poor, especially in urban areas the most. It has become clear, if ever there was any doubt, that the international financial structure is skewed significantly against developing and emerging economies….”

Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansar Marsudi of Indonesia: “We cannot let global recovery fall at the mercy of geopolitics.” Calling the upcoming G20 Summit in her country a “catalyst for recovery”, she urged countries to address food and energy crises to avoid a fertilizer crisis that would affect billions of people, particularly in developing countries.

President David Kabua of Marshall Islands: “We value the United Nations as our primary international stage. But if the world does not adequately respond to the island nations and as seas rise, then this is really no United Nations at all.”

Loss and damage: a forgotten climate commitment?

At the opening of the General Debate, the Secretary-General urged governments and multilateral agencies to make climate action a priority, including holding fossil fuel companies to account. He called on developed economies “to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies. Those funds should be re-directed in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados: “The developing world and in particular, the Small Island Developing States, came to Paris and agreed for a global compact. One of the key aspects that allowed us to do so was the promise of Loss and Damage. Today, the people of Guadalupe and Puerto Rico, yesterday Turks and Caicos …face disruption by Hurricane Fiona. Today, I received news about difficulties for the natural gas supply in my own country, and I suspect others in this part of the world…

“When we match this with the reality that we have not planned in granular form, how we will have the capacity to meet the commitments that we have made for Net Zero… then I see trouble ahead of us and we must pause and get it right. Our small states are making commitments that the world wants to hear, but when those commitments are undermined by the inability to supply the electric cars or the batteries necessary to sustain renewable energy, then we know we have a problem.”

She explained that the impact of climate change on access to natural gas makes clear why Emerging Market Countries in the Caribbean and in Africa “have determined that we cannot abandon access to our own natural gas resources until we are assured that we have the capacity to sustain our populations. This is where the rubber meets the ground and I ask us today to recognize that those commitments on Loss and Damage and that granular detail that matches commitment to capacity are absolutely critical if we are to make serious progress in saving our world.”

Prime Minister John Briceño of Belize: “Public sector expenditure on climate-caused “loss and damage cannot continue to be classified according to fiscal orthodoxy.” At the COP in Glasgow, he added: “Rather than delivering a Loss and Damage Facility to help our countries deal with the losses and damages caused by climate change, we left with más palabras!”

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji: “Only come to [the COP in] Sharm El-Sheikh if you are ready to agree to a loss and damage mechanism… in the order of US$750 billion, with at least 10 percent of climate finance destined for small island states. …This is our story… a story of David against Goliath. A small state facing nations, corporations, and interests far bigger than we are. …This is not the time for words, this is the time for will and a time for courage.”

President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles: “We are at the cusp of an ecological collapse… We need bold actions not unfulfilled promises and pledges… We must also confront the gross injustice of having citizens of states least responsible for the unravelling climate-induced disaster pay for the loss and damage caused by others.”

Global governance – highlights unequal positioning of Africa

Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Dussey of Togo set out the unjust the power relationship: “Africa in the eyes of certain powers is only of interest when they are finding themselves in difficulty…. Today, Africa no longer holds the place that it deserves on the international stage. Noting that when the UN was created in 1945, with the exception of Liberia and Ethiopia, the countries of Africa were not yet independent: “After 77 years, it is the same International System, unfortunately, which persists, owing to the will of the five permanent members of the Security Council….”

Pointing to the consensus among 54 African States regarding the need to secure two permanent seats on the Security Council, he said that “the reluctance of certain members of the P5… to see Africa occupy this place stands in stark relief. …The great powers wish to boil Africa down to a purely instrumental entity for the service of their causes and they clearly do not wish to see Africa play an important role, a key role in the world…. They look towards Africa with agendas that are dictated by their own interests….

“In the concert of nations, there is a need for Africa to be heard, for dialogue to have a purpose. The inability to listen perverts the purpose of dialogue, morphing it into a juxtaposition of monologues partial reasonings, at times in the guise of pseudo-multilateralism whose danger resides in the distortion of the relationship. And yet in today’s world it is only by pooling our intelligence that we can reach agreement on the goals to be achieved together.”

President Macky Sall of Senegal: “I have come to say that Africa has suffered enough of the burden of history; that it does not want to be the breeding ground of a new cold war, but rather a pole of stability and opportunity open to all its partners, on a mutually beneficial basis.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados stated that the G7 and G20, “as the informal subcommittee of governance of this world” must recognize that we can no longer “call year after year after year for the inclusion of the people of Africa and African descent to be included in the G7 and G20. For how can a world have at its core a subcommittee that excludes more than 1.4, 1.5 billion people of the world and expect it to reflect fairness and transparency in its decision-making?”

This goes beyond fairness, she added, saying that those countries “must understand that if we are to move from possibilities to realities, we must embrace a transparent framework that allows our people, who are losing faith in their institutions and in the governance of this world, to understand that fairness means …the ability for all to have a voice, and that we can’t only speak to it within the corridors of democracy within the nation state, but it will only mean something when it also is reflected in our international community.”

Security imperatives require Security Council reform: from cooperation to ending the veto

Then President Paul-Henri Damiba of Burkino Faso: “No precautions or prevention measures will prevent terrorism from crossing the Atlantic if Sahel is abandoned.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Robert Dussey of Togo: “The deterioration of the security situation [in Sahel] should be of concern to all of us, first and foremost to the United Nations. That having been said, there’s an important need to fully revitalize our organization and to spare no effort to achieve reform of the Security Council.”

President Macky Sall of Senegal: “It is time to heed Africa’s just and legitimate demand for Security Council reform, as reflected in the Ezulwini consensus. In the same vein, I reaffirm our request for the African Union to be granted a seat in the G20 so that Africa can finally be represented where decisions that affect 1 billion 400 million Africans are being taken.”

Permanent Representative to the UN Maria De Jesus Ferreira of Angola: “Negotiations for reforming the UN Security Council still have not produced the results that the overwhelming majority of Member States expects… The Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration represent a viable option to restore the rights and legitimate aspirations of the African continent and to correct the historical injustices that the region is experiencing with its absence from the decision-making center of one of the main statutory bodies in matters of international peace and security created by the UN Charter.”

Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India: “As we begin the G-20 presidency this December, we are sensitive to the challenges faced by developing countries. India will work with other G-20 members to address serious issues of debt, economic growth, food and energy security and particularly environment. The reform of governance of multilateral financial institutions will continue to be one of our core priorities… The call for reformed multilateralism – with reforms of the Security Council at its core – enjoys considerable support among UN members.” While India is completing its tenure this year, it seeks to ensure that the injustice faced by the Global South is addressed through such a process. Serious negotiations “must not be blocked by procedural tactics. Naysayers cannot hold the intergovernmental negotiations process hostage in perpetuity.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados: “Earlier this week, President Biden spoke of the need to reform the Security Council. We call an echo for that, but we go further, because we believe that a Security Council that retains the power of veto in the hands of a few will still lead us to war as we have seen this year. Therefore, the reform simply must not be in its composition but also in the removal of that veto.”

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