Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 March 2023:
In Doha, Qatar, last Saturday 4 of March, President Dr Julius Maada Bio addressed a pre-summit gathering of the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs. He spoke about the opportunities for member countries to engage and identify actions and partnerships at the highest possible level.
“It is a comprehensive and ambitious agenda that will get us on track to achieving the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], especially at a time when Africa and other countries in special situations face a myriad of interlocking challenges including food and energy insecurity, the climate crisis, and shrinking development finance. We believe that the effective implementation of the DPoA will bring about transformative changes in the lives of millions of people in the LDCs,” he said.
Bio called on members of the global south to explore the possibilities of leveraging expertise and resources through South-South Cooperation for the timely implementation of the DPoA.
“Sierra Leone remains committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda. It informs our national development agenda through the key accelerator Goals: SDG4 (Education) and SDG16 (Justice). Sierra Leone will continue to implement policies that ensure basic, accessible, and inclusive quality education for all children.
“Sierra Leone will further continue to provide leadership for the g7+ Countries as we work on transitioning from fragility to inclusive sustainable development,” he assured.
President Bio also congratulated the incoming Chair of the LDC Group, the Government of Nepal, assured of his cooperation and support and used the occasion to thank His Highness Tamin Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, the host, for being a strategic development partner.
“Our world faces multiple vulnerabilities, including growing inequality and poverty, hunger, armed conflicts and terrorism, climate change, and pandemics. These vulnerabilities continue to impede the capacities and thus progress of LDCs toward the SDGs.
“As decision-makers, we should generate the political momentum needed to support the implementation of the six priority areas outlined in the DPoA and other development frameworks.
“As we engage in the days ahead, we must intensify the call on our development partners to bridge the financing divide, increase access to affordable long-term financing and investments, and also proffer alternatives for debt relief and borrowing terms. All this can be done with a view to enhancing recovery and achieving sustainable development,” he said.
President Julius Maada Bio further recalled that the target for the Istanbul Programme of Action, which was meant to graduate half of the LDCs by 2020, could not be achieved due to multifaceted global challenges that continued to adversely affect LDCs.
“We should, therefore, be unrelenting in our drive to provide unprecedented leadership and political will, mobilise resources, strengthen our efforts, and collaborate closely at regional and inter-regional levels to strengthen global governance, make trade regimes fairer, boost productivity, and invest in infrastructure that foster economic growth. My delegation looks forward to engaging constructively on the foregoing and more in the coming days,” he concluded.
The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to accelerate sustainable development in the places where international assistance is needed the most – and to tap the full potential of the Least Developed Countries helping them make progress on the road to prosperity.
And yesterday Sunday, President Bio also spoke during the general debate at the Fifth UN conference on least developed countries. This is what he said:
“Chairman, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me at the outset express my deep gratitude to His Highness, Tamin Bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, for consenting to host this Summit and for the warm hospitality, support, and the outstanding facilities that have been placed at our disposal.
Let me also commend the leadership of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for conducting the work of the group, providing support and forward momentum for our efforts even during these very challenging times. We are grateful that you have actively protected the interests of the Group in the process of implementing the Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Chairman, Excellencies, Sierra Leone reiterates its commitment to the collective and shared responsibility to uphold the principles of the United Nations. We affirm our renewed solidarity in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in intensifying cooperation among LDCs.
The world has registered great transformation since the first United Nations LDC Conference in 1981, with some countries graduating from LDC status. But persistent structural global inequalities, the COVID-19 pandemic, recent geopolitical tensions, global economic headwinds and disruptions have the reversed gains most LDCs have made towards achieving the SDGs. Consequently, most LDCs have failed to graduate to middle-income status.
We acknowledge that 14% of the global population lives in LDCs and continues to grapple with poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, poor health care, and other structural challenges that further expose them to vulnerabilities. We therefore must scale up international and national efforts to urgently address the plight of this group of countries.
The collective cause of the g7+ — that Sierra Leone currently chairs – is aligned with the Doha Plan of Action which recognises the nexus of peace and development. 18 of the 20 g7+ countries are on the LDC list. This group of countries continues to be adversely and disproportionately affected by the current global crises.
We, therefore, renew calls for debt relief and investments in connectivity and infrastructure that support economic diversification. Additionally, regional and global actors must support ecosystems of shared peace while adhering to such aid effectiveness principles as respect for country ownership and leadership.
Only by doing that can we achieve what this year’s theme promises – “from potential to prosperity.” The theme, therefore, resonates with Sierra Leone’s aspirations. We are committed to implementing national strategies that are consistent with the Doha Programme of Action for the decade 2022- 2031. We welcome the six focus areas that are aligned with Sierra Leone’s current Medium-Term National Development Plan (2029-2023). It will also be mainstreamed into our successor national development plan (2024- 2028).
We will continue to advance human capital development by investing in people through quality education, healthcare, and food security. Our recent Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment law sets legal minimums for the representation and participation of women in the private and public sectors. We will continue to prioritise interventions that address vulnerabilities and exclusion among women, girls, youth, the aged and the disabled. We will scale up radical inclusion, financial inclusion, skills development and job creation, and continue to pursue our National Social Protection Policy.
Through the 10-year National Innovation and Digital Strategy (2019- 2029) we will continue to facilitate and support a vibrant national innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem for the public and private sectors.
In-country, we will continue to implement our Integrated national financing framework, scale-up financial digitalisation, and strengthen our national systems for more effective resource mobilisation and efficient use of public finances.
We will accelerate efforts at addressing climate change and environmental degradation; diversify our economic activities with a renewed focus on boosting food production and agribusiness, tourism, fisheries, and light manufacturing. We can also generate significant regional trade volumes by implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area initiative. Chairman, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me conclude by expressing our sincere hope that within a spirit of multilateralism, we can galvanise significant global efforts to effectively address the challenges confronting the LDCs. By tackling those, we can ensure that “no country is left behind” in the race to meet the UN 2030 SDGs.
I thank you for your kind attention.”