United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Italy, Spain and Turkey

New York, 9-13 December 2013
Statement of Mr. Paolo Soprano
Director for Sustainable Development and NGOs
Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea of Italy
Interactive exchange of views on
“Needs of countries in special situations, African countries, LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS as well as specific challenges facing middle-income countries”
Distinguished co-Chairs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have the honor to make this intervention also on behalf of Turkey and Spain, with whom we are pleased to share the membership in this Open Working Group.
1. Most of the countries we are discussing today, namely LDCs, LLDCs and SIDs, have similar challenges and needs in terms of sustainable development. Millennium Development Goals helped to achieve so much and countries made varied progress according to their respective capabilities. However efforts to fulfill the remaining targets should be continued collectively.
2. Poverty and unequal income distribution together with unemployment, gender inequality, food and health insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to basic services, political instability and conflicts, weak institutional capacity, are among the common challenges LDCs face today. They usually have limited productive capacity and resilience to shocks caused by lack of stable, safe and operational economic environment. Moreover, they are facing increasing challenges resulting from major environmental threats
such as climate change, land degradation and desertification that constitute obstacles for the development agenda. LDCs, at the same time, have an enormous human and natural resource potential for their own prosperity and food and energy security.
3. As broadly referred in the Istanbul Program of Action for LDC’s, financial, technological and capacity building assistance to those countries is of basic importance. A successful renewed and strengthened global partnership that effectively addresses the special needs of LDCs will contribute to the creation of peace, prosperity and sustainable development for all. LDCs deserve particular attention and support measures to eradicate poverty, accelerate economic growth, achieve sustainable development and overcome their vulnerabilities. As stated in the Istanbul Program of Action, there is a need for collaborative action for a comprehensive and inclusive sustainable development program for LDCs.
Distinguished Members,
4. Increased food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, and the global financial and economic crisis partly reversed development gains that LDCs achieved over the years. While the LDCs have made considerable efforts for their development, most of them still face a huge financing gap, and ODA is still the largest source of external financing for the development of LDCs.
5. LDCs have various needs. As we mentioned two weeks ago in our troika’s intervention, industrial policies should be designed for the needs of LDCs so that we can achieve more sustainable and inclusive development. LDCs should be supported according to the “priority areas” defined under Istanbul Program of Action. Among all, we reaffirm their needs in terms of finance, capacity building and STI as well as needs for better education, health, food, energy and water.
6. All forms of partnerships, i.e. global and regional cooperation as well as multilateral and bilateral partnerships, should be initiated for the urgent needs of most vulnerable LDCs. In that respect, it will be helpful to have a Technology Bank and Science, Technology and
Innovation Supporting Mechanism dedicated to LDCs, and we are all looking forward to the establishment of this facility.
Dear Participants,
7. As stated in Issues Brief, eleven African Countries have experienced average 7 percent growth rate annually over the past decade. But Africa’s collective GDP at US$2 trillion today and average per capita national income at around 1.200$ is still lagging behind on several development fronts.
8. The continent suffers from environmental pressures related to climate change, water scarcity, hunger, deforestation, desertification and drought. Other problems that are originating from social and economic bottlenecks are undermining our efforts to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development.
9. These countries and their development partners should seek ways to increase connectivity and partnerships by establishing regional value chains in order to maximize the benefits of globalization. The capacity of developed countries should play a key role in terms of financing the development. All countries, particularly the ones with success stories and experiences in terms of similar difficulties, have a value for vulnerable African countries. In this regard, we reaffirm the importance of south-south cooperation.
10. In order to build a sustainable economic environment, the current economic system needs to be restructured in most of African countries. Good governance, appropriate legal institutions, effective fiscal measures, solid private sector, together with coherent and effective instruments and regulations are the core characteristics of a working economy.
11. Italy, Spain and Turkey are close neighbors, as well as partners, of the African Countries. In the new Post 2015 Agenda, we are committed to contribute to the sustainable development of Africa, with poverty eradication at the core.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
12. SDGs should consider the need for capacity building, food security, human and social development, good governance in LDCs. Considering that the majority of the Sub-Saharan African countries are LDCs, building resilient and sustainable economic and social environment is also relevant for Sub-Saharan African countries.
13. In Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC), other than the common challenges, the weak connection to international markets leads to high transport and transaction costs and creates a barrier for their trade capacity. Improving transport infrastructures and promoting sustainable transport systems will increase productive capacity and promote industrialization. Due to increasing levels of regional and global integration, LLDCs would take their share from globalization.
Distinguished co-chairs,
14. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have unique ecosystems. SIDS are “sea-locked”, with no access to land extensions. Their economy is essentially sea-based, likewise their food security and transportation. The sea, generally the most important natural resource for SIDS, in recent years has become a harbinger of ruin.
15. While for all countries the sea level rise is a threat, the SIDS can lose political and national identity through the capture of their scarce land by the sea. While for all countries ocean acidification can lead to an alarming disruption of one important food chain, for the SIDS such disruption could be devastating. The extreme weather events that create unspeakable destructions on the shores of all countries can wipe out SIDS countries, since the escape to land extensions is not an option for their populations.
16. Although SIDS are among the countries that contribute the least to anthropogenic interference with the global climate, global strategies aiming at emission reduction and low-carbon economies are for the SIDS particularly critical and urgent. At the same time,
as climate change impacts have become permanent, adaptation measures have gained enormous importance on the political agenda of SIDS, as well as on the global agenda.
17. As the discussion on the development of SDGs will undoubtedly give a prominent standing to the sustainable management of natural resources and habitats, coastal areas, oceans and seas, and marine biodiversity and resources will have to be at level with land masses, and land biodiversity and resources. This will ensure that in the decades to come the special vulnerabilities of SIDS and their tight dependency on the resources that seas and oceans provide will have greater international weight and visibility.
18. The challenge that the SIDS are facing is too large to be tackled alone. Coordination and joint action by all stakeholders, including public and private sector, will be crucial. We applaud one of the fundamental themes of the International Conference that will take place in Samoa in 2014, namely, partnership; partnerships have become the prime engine and a success story of international cooperation, of which they are becoming one of the main mechanisms.
Honorable Members and participants,
19. Middle Income Countries (MICs) that have per capita gross national income of US$1,036 to $12,615, account for around 75% of the world’s population. They have certain similarities with aforementioned countries. Inadequate access to basic needs and services, low capacity to upgrade manufacturing sectors, unemployment, unequal income distribution or malnutrition are examples of challenges they face. Nonetheless MICs have a considerable potential to break their situation.
20. One of their major challenges is inequity, and the unequal pattern of wealth distribution. As MICs have accomplished one of the most difficult challenges, economic growth, efforts must be focused now in achieving a more equal distribution of wealth in a sustainable way.
21. Special concern must be also given to the differences in poverty and development still present between urban and rural areas, and the need to recognize the interdependence of urban, rural and peri-urban communities. By 2050 it is predicted that 64.1% and 85.9% of the developing and developed world respectively will be urbanized.
22. Moreover, a significant number of Middle Income Countries needs to restructure their economic system to be able to reduce inequalities and social imbalances as well as to empower the role of private and financial sectors. Similarly, good governance, strengthening institutional capacity and tax mechanism, introducing relevant regulations are some of the pre-requisites for sustainable development.
23. While significant progresses have been accomplished, efforts are still needed in order to set the foundations of these achievements and promote sustainable development, not only for the eradication of extreme poverty, but also to tackle relative poverty and avoid the middle-income trap.
24. An effective global partnership, and a commitment from every country, is essential to achieve international development and stability and to assure a sustainable provision of global public goods. The next High Level Meeting on Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation to be held in Mexico is an opportunity to move forward on this issue.
Mr. co-Chair, to sum up,
25. African Countries, Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, Small Island Developing States, even some of the Middle Income Countries have common challenges in the eve of a new development agenda. We all know that specific circumstances of these countries should be considered carefully while designing sustainable development goals.
26. A universal agenda must be understood and accepted by every country. In spite of this universal nature, we must also bear in mind the different implications for each country
as well as different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development. Least developed and fragile States are key if we are to agree on a future model of sustained economic growth and development. However, the role of middle income countries as well as of developed countries is equally vital for both reducing inequalities worldwide and for building new partnerships, beyond the traditional donor-recipient relationships. Countries having modern institutions, operational framework, rule of law and modern concepts of governance should lead and support others by knowledge-sharing, capacity building programs and financing mechanisms for eliminating development differences.
We have, in short, a responsibility to ensure that no country is left behind.
Thank you.