Governments, Regions, UN Agencies Preparing to Review Action for LLDCs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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The UNGA plans to convene a comprehensive high-level midterm review on the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs in late 2019.

Activities underway to prepare for the review include: the preparation by LLDCs of national reports on the implementation of the VPoA; the organization of regional meetings; and, at the global level, the convening of an Inter-Agency Consultative Group on the follow-up and implementation of the VPoA, and of pre-conference events on specific themes.

12 February 2019: The UN’s programme of action for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) will be reviewed at the end of 2019, and preparatory initiatives and events are underway at the national, regional and global levels. Senior government officials and experts from LLDCs, transit developing countries and development partners met in Bangkok, Thailand, for the first of three regional meetings scheduled in the lead-up to the midterm review on the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA).

The VPoA was adopted in November 2014 during the Second UN Conference on LLDCs, and covers the decade 2014-2024. The programme of action addresses the challenges faced by LLDCs by focusing on six priority areas: fundamental transit policy issues; infrastructure development and maintenance; international trade and trade facilitation; regional integration and cooperation; structural economic transformation; and means of implementation.

In December 2017, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) decided to convene a comprehensive high-level midterm review on the implementation of the VPoA to assess progress, share best practices and lessons learned, identify obstacles and constraints, actions and initiatives needed to overcome them, and new challenges and emerging issues (UNGA resolution 72/232). Also by the text, Member States note that the VPoA is integral to the 2030 Agenda. Governments also decided to adopt an intergovernmentally negotiated and agreed outcome of the review, in the form of a political declaration. On 30 October 2018, UNGA President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés informed UN Member States that Doma Tshering, Permanent Representative of Bhutan, and Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria, will co-facilitate intergovernmental negotiations related to the midterm review, in order to produce the political declaration.

As noted in a factsheet shared by the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, LLDCs and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), national, regional and global preparatory events and initiatives are taking place ahead of the review. At the national level, LLDCs are preparing national reports on the implementation of the VPoA, which will serve as input to the regional reviews and global preparations.

At the regional level, preparations include three regional review meetings, which are coordinated by the UN regional commissions in cooperation with OHRLLS:

  • the Euro-Asian Regional Review, which convened from 11-12 February 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand;
  • the Africa Regional Review, scheduled for 18-19 March 2019, in Marrakech, Morocco; and
  • the Latin America Regional Review, scheduled for June 2019, in Asunción, Paraguay.

According to a press release issued by the organizers, the Euro-Asian regional meeting took stock of the VPoA’s implementation in Euro-Asia, and identified and shared best practices and innovative approaches to accelerate its implementation. The press release notes that meeting participants adopted an outcome document highlighting recommendations to overcome the challenges faced by the Euro-Asian LLDCs, including: the importance of strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation on fundamental transit policies, and accession to key international legal instruments; and upgrading and maintaining existing road, rail, and information and communications technology (ICT) networks with the support of partners.

At the global level, the Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG) on the follow-up and implementation of the VPoA is being convened on a regular basis to consult on the substantive and organizational aspects of the preparatory process, and on the contributions of the UN system and other international organizations. Per the factsheet, IACG meetings took place on 11 April 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland, and on 14 November 2018 in New York, US. Another meeting is planned for 10 April 2019, in Geneva.

In addition, OHRLLS in collaboration with partner organizations has organized a number of pre-conference events on specific themes, such as: a Ministerial Meeting of LLDCs on Transport and Trade (16-17 May 2018, in Astana, Kazakhstan); a briefing on climate change and migration for LLDCs (30 May 2018, in New York); an inaugural meeting of the International Think Tank for LLDCs (11-12 June 2018, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia); side events on connecting LLDC cities through sustainable aviation (11 July 2018, in New York) and on accelerating the energy transition in LLDCs (12 July 2018, in New York); and a high-level event on promoting foreign investment for LLDCs (25 October 2018, in Geneva).

Among upcoming meetings, an event on strengthening ICT connectivity and digital inclusion in LLDCs will take place on the margins of World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in April 2019, and a retreat on the midterm review is tentatively expected to convene in May 2019, in New York.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development notes that the LLDCs “deserve special attention” in their pursuit of sustainable development, recognizing their specific challenges, and that the VPoA is integral to the Agenda. SDG targets 9.a and 10.b set out specific areas of support for LLDCs to, inter alia, “facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development … through enhanced financial, technological and technical support” (9.a); and “encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment … in accordance with their national plans and programmes” (10.b). [OHRLLS Website on Midterm Review]

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