Harnessing Innovation and Digitalization to Leave No One Behind

Statement delivered by Haoliang Xu at a side event co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme and the Qatar Fund for Development, at the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).

March 7, 2023

Dear Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, Colleagues,

It is a distinct pleasure to be with you today at this side event co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme and the Qatar Fund for Development.

It is no coincidence that we co-host this event together.  I would like to appreciate the importance of our renewed strategic partnership with the State of Qatar, alongside Germany, in supporting the pioneering work of our Accelerator Labs, as the fastest growing learning network in the world  spanning  115 locations in 91 countries, covering 80% of the LDCs- all this accomplished in a space of 3 years with women and youth in the lead

From COVID19, youth unemployment, informality, waste management, digitalization to climate change, the Accelerator Labs have contributed to surface more than 3000 grassroots solutions to recovery and sustainable development challenges and one third of these solutions come from LDCs.

Dear Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, Colleagues,

The Doha Plan of Action underscores the critical importance that science, technology and innovation, can have in the pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

To truly harness the power of innovation and digitalization, however, we must ensure that these are accessible and inclusive to everyone, particularly those who are marginalized and vulnerable.

The challenge ahead is daunting. In LDCs, 36 percent of the population (against 66% globally) and only 30 percent of women compared with 43 percent of men have access to internet. One in six people still live in areas without mobile broadband coverage.

Our event today provides us with an important and timely opportunity to reflect on these challenges, but also to learn about the many promising avenues through which the power of transformative digital innovation can be successfully leveraged and brought to scale to accelerate progress in the reduction of vulnerability and poverty in LDCs.

At UNDP, we are committed to support LDCs with the development of inclusive innovation and digital ecosystems that are responsive to the needs of people and can transform their lives with cost-effective and high-quality access to key public and private services. Today, we will hear more about the pioneering experience of Bangladesh.

Dear Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, Colleagues,

Innovation and digitalization have enormous potential to help leapfrog and fulfill our pledge to "Leave No One Behind" in LDCs. We trust that together we can ensure that innovation and digitalization empower everyone to participate in and benefit from development.

I thank you and  look forward to the discussions!