Helen Clark: Statement at UNGA Special Event on LDCs and Agenda 2030

Feb 11, 2016

It is a pleasure to join you today to discuss the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the synergies which can be built between these two important development agendas. 

2015 was a landmark year for global development. UN Member States reached historic agreements and set global agendas which will guide development priorities for a generation to come. These include: Agenda 2030 on sustainable development; the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development; and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

These agreements are all highly relevant to LDCs, and reflect the development opportunities and challenges they face. Implementation of these agreements and other previous international commitments and programmes, including the Istanbul Programme of Action would enable LDCs to accelerate their development and their graduation from LDC status. 

During the period of the Millennium Development Goals, there was significant progress in many LDCs on lifting people out of poverty, and on reaching major milestones in education, health, and other areas. The latest global Human Development Report notes that LDCs as a group are making the fastest progress in human development. Between 2000 and 2014, the average Human Development Index value for LDCs increased by 26 per cent, compared to the average increase globally of 11 per cent. This progress increases the likelihood of graduation from LDC status for a number of countries sooner rather than later.

Indeed by March last year, ten more countries had been recommended for graduation. Four countries  had already graduated by 2014. Furthermore, a significant number of LDCs have expressed their desire to graduate by 2020, and are integrating targeted action plans to that end in their national development agendas. These plans deserve our support, and UNDP will do whatever it can to support them to be realised. 

The Istanbul Programme of Action 2011-2020 and Agenda 2030 are both long-term agendas based on principles of inclusive and sustainable development. Their common priority areas include developing productive capacity covering infrastructure, industrialization, and energy; building on social and human development, including through improved health status and quality education; increasing resilience to external shocks; and strengthening institutions and governance.

Implementation of the two agendas also follows similar approaches, including by promoting the importance of building new and existing partnerships, technology transfer, support for capacity building, and improving data collection and accountability for better monitoring of results. 

Working along these lines, greater international support can be mobilized for LDCs to enable them to achieve the objectives of both the Istanbul Programme of Action and Agenda 2030. LDCs will benefit from consolidating their financial and technical resources to make  progress on both agendas and their national development plans simultaneously, and from building common data platforms and monitoring mechanisms for the attainment of both.  Harmonized reporting systems for the two agendas would reduce the transaction costs of preparing multiple reports. That would help ensure that public sector capacity can focus fully on implementation.

Supporting LDCs on graduation and on the implementation of Agenda 2030 lies at the heart of UNDP’s mandate and work. Seventy four per cent of our core programme resourcing is allocated for work in LDCs. 

High on our agenda since 2011 has been the mainstreaming of the Istanbul Programme of Action into national development plans, and now the same process is underway for the SDGs.  In Laos, for example, UNDP has been supporting the elaboration of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, which is centred on both LDC graduation and mainstreaming the SDGs. In Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, and Nepal, UNDP is supporting the national ambitions to graduate around 2020. In Bhutan and Myanmar, we are working to strengthen statistical systems, data collection, and monitoring for the implementation of both the Istanbul Programme of Action and the SDGs.

The UN Development Group as a whole is rolling out its Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) framework in support of Agenda 2030.  It is aimed at supporting countries, at national request, to adapt the SDGs to national and local contexts, target efforts on priority areas, and provide strategic policy support. This analytical tool and methodology can bring much needed coherence between internationally agreed frameworks for development.

Meeting the special needs of LDCs will require continued strong national leadership, dedicated support from national and international partners, and mobilizing sufficient resources. If we all commit to play our part, then there are greater opportunities for LDCs to graduate in the near term, and to make progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

I hope that today’s discussion will generate constructive ideas and dialogue on how we can collectively build on the synergies between the Istanbul Programme of Action and Agenda 2030 with the aim of making progress on both quickly.