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Source: Small Island Developing States

7 August 2019: UN Member States have reached agreement on the political declaration of the high-level midterm review of the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). The VPoA covers the decade 2014-2024, and the midterm review meeting will convene in December 2019.

The high-level midterm review is referred to in UNGA resolution 72/232 on the follow-up to the second UN Conference on LLDCs. Per the resolution, the UNGA decides to convene a comprehensive high-level midterm review no later than December 2019. It calls on the review to: enable the sharing of best practices and lessons learned; and identify obstacles and constraints encountered, actions and initiatives needed to overcome them, and new challenges and emerging issues.

One third of LLDC populations still live in extreme poverty, and moderate to severe food insecurity persists.

Doma Tshering, Permanent Representative of Bhutan, and Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria, served as co-facilitators for the intergovernmental process to produce the midterm review political declaration, and held intergovernmental consultations on the declaration in June and July 2019. The final draft of the declaration was transmitted to UN Member States by the co-facilitators on 30 July, and was placed under silence procedure until 1 August.

On that day, UNGA President, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, announced that the silence procedure on the final draft political declaration for the midterm review of the VPoA had not been broken, and later informed delegations that the declaration would be transmitted to the President of the 74th session of the UNGA for its adoption at the high-level midterm review.

The declaration calls for the review meeting to convene from 5-6 December 2019, as indicated by the UNGA President in June 2019. The text includes a call for action to accelerate the implementation of the VPoA, and invites the UNGA to consider holding the Third UN Conference on LLDCs in 2024. Per the text, Heads of State and Government, Ministers and High Representatives reaffirm their commitment to the overarching goal of the VPoA to address the special development needs and challenges of LLDCs in a more coherent manner. They further welcome efforts made by LLDCs to enhance their participation in global trade including through mainstreaming trade into their national strategies, but points to greater difficulties than coastal countries in expanding international trade.

On other challenges, the declaration notes that not enough progress has been made to achieve VPoA targets and sustainable development, and highlights that one third of LLDC populations still live in extreme poverty, the prevalence of moderate to severe food insecurity persists, and that LLDCs’ average Human Development Index (HDI) lags behind the world average. It outlines the lack reliable and regular data, and the lack of adequate financial resources and capacity constraints as key challenges faced by in their efforts to implement the VPoA and achieve sustainable development, and expresses concerns at the limited technological capabilities, low technology intensity and acquisition, and low investments into research and development in LLDCs.

Prior to governments’ agreement on the final draft political declaration, the UN Secretary-General issued a progress report on the implementation of the VPoA. It notes mixed progress in the priority areas of the VPoA, and contains recommendations for accelerating implementation over the next five years.

The two-day review meeting is expected to include an opening segment, plenary meetings, two interactive panels and a closing segment. The interactive panels should address: ‘promoting trade, trade facilitation and structural economic transformation in Landlocked Developing Countries,’ and ‘regional integration and infrastructure connectivity.’ [Final Draft Political Declaration] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on consultation process]

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