Transformative Action Programme Crucial to Help Landlocked Developing Countries Thrive, Fulfil Promise of Leaving No One Behind, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Joint Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the high-level opening segment of the General Assembly-Economic and Social Council Thematic Event on Landlocked Developing Countries, in New York today: 

I thank the President of the General Assembly and the President of [the Economic and Social Council] for convening this meeting.

The Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries hosted by Rwanda is fast approaching, and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries is coming to an end.

The Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Programme is clear that progress has been slow over the past few years: That is a consequence of a series of overlapping crises from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 to the war in Ukraine leading to rising costs of living, higher borrowing costs, and funding squeeze.

We know that landlocked developing countries face specific challenges and vulnerabilities.  Which — as the Secretary-General has underlined time and again — are too often overlooked by the international community.

Your distance from the seaports creates barriers to accessing major markets.  Border procedures are frequently cumbersome.  You face infrastructure limitations, connectivity challenges, and a digital divide.  You are also on the frontline of climate chaos — facing desertification, land degradation, prolonged droughts, catastrophic biodiversity loss and rapidly melting glaciers.

Our policy findings show that being landlocked is an effective obstacle to development, with landlocked developing countries lagging behind on several development dimensions.  Our purpose today is to identify ways to continue to address these challenges, building on achievements already made.   

As we embark on a journey of collaboration and partnership to agree on a new programme of action for the landlocked developing countries, to deliver resilient, inclusive and sustainable development over the next decade. This means giving these countries critical access to finance for infrastructure; rethinking supply chains that work for them; ensuring education, skills and opportunities for young people, especially women, to prosper in their own countries.

We need to be ambitious, guided by the spirit of solidarity and support for the 32 most vulnerable countries of the world, ensuring that no one is left behind.

We need to continue to develop robust policies and frameworks, and we need to ensure the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including Governments, international organizations, civil society, private sector, local communities, women and youth to foster the widest possible coalition of partnerships for landlocked developing countries.  Success will also demand revitalized and strengthened partnerships with transit countries, and to address the financing needs.

The preparations for the Third United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries are advancing well.  Today’s meeting constitutes a milestone in this process.  It is crucial in building the momentum needed as we head towards the first session of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee in February 2024.

I would like to recognize the Permanent Representatives of Austria and Mongolia as Co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee.  I wish them every success and share our support in the task ahead.

We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to build a truly transformative programme of action to enable landlocked developing countries to thrive and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

I urge all of us to make that a reality.  To be ambitious and creative in generating a new programme of action that will help landlocked developing countries flourish.  Together, let’s make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for everyone, everywhere.

For information media. Not an official record.