05 March 2023 | Foreign Affairs.
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our world has changed drastically since the 4th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries and the adoption of the Istanbul Political Declaration and Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.
Since then, only three countries have graduated from LDC status. In an age where our economies, priorities and challenges are interlinked, no country should be left behind. All Governments and partners must respond decisively to address the challenges that we collectively face.
Twenty per cent of LDCs are Small Island Developing States. And two-thirds of LDCs are African.
Seychelles is not an LDC. We have graduated to the High-Income Status. However, our presence here is a sign of solidarity, regional and global support for our fellow SIDS and Africans and a strong expression of seeking greater understanding and cooperation. No state should be punished for progress. Let not the so called “graduation” be another hurdle in meeting the needs of people and its communities.
It is plain that the factors hindering the development of LDCs and SIDS across all continents and regions are similar in nature, despite their having the potential for rapid growth and development. This potential could be realized if we had equal access to resources and opportunities that lead to economic growth and stability and improve the lives of citizens.
Such inequality has resulted in a development imbalance, worsened by the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas emissions, leaving our climate and ecosystems in peril. Developing countries stand to be disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change and must now face the challenges of global warming for which we share minimal responsibility.
The goal of graduating from the LDC category and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals has never been more difficult in the face of such existential crises. A different set of challenges manifests itself in trying to maintain the status of “graduation” and in pursuing an upwards trajectory. Support needs to be extended in order for such countries to sustain their progress and thus ensure that traditional donor-recipient relationships are transformed into mutual partnerships.
Countries, such as ours, continue to remain vulnerable in spite of their graduation to the high-income status. Climate change threatens our livelihoods and existence regardless of economic status. The key difference is that many developed countries have the means to build their resilience in the face of disasters and external shocks.
We cannot continue relying on temporary solutions to address the systemic failures and shortcomings within the existing development cooperation mechanisms. The time has come for the international organisations like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and multilateral development banks to stop using only GDP per capita as a measurement of development, restricting access to concessionary financing for development needs. One size does not fit all! We need to recognize the needs of countries with unique vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities affecting SIDS and LDCs alike.
That is why, at every opportunity, I advocate for the global adoption of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index. This offers a targeted approach that will not only complement but improve the efficacy of development cooperation, permitting countries in vulnerable situations to access concessional financing and address our needs.
I also wish to emphasise the importance of South-South cooperation. Solidarity and unity between countries of the South will provide for stronger and enduring partnerships. And collective advocacy of our shared interests will contribute to mobilising resources, and ensure they are distributed equitably to serve our developmental needs.
This 5th Conference is a welcome and positive step in the direction we all want to go. The Doha Programme of Action is the roadmap we have to follow to develop our full potential and resilience while progressing on the trajectory to sustainable development. SIDS and LDCs share similar concerns but from different perspectives. And it is imperative that we work together to mobilise maximum, effective, equitable, long-term support to lock in growth and prosperity.
It is also imperative that we take ownership and primary responsibility for our respective countries and people through good governance, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for human rights, the eradication of corruption and in standing as strong advocates in defending climate change, what I call the Seychelles way, that we will embrace progress and sustainable development.
It is my hope that, in the not too distant future, we shall have a gathering of strong and resilient states, with poverty and under-development no longer an affliction of the many.