Dakar, Senegal
21- 22 June 2017

Respectable Chair
Representative of the Government of Senegal
Fellow Delegates from Different countries of West Africa
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I, on behalf of LDC Watch, would like to extend my warm welcome to all of you for coming here in Dakar, Senegal to make the West African Regional Consultation on Graduation of LDCs in Reference to IPoA and SDGs a success.

About the Regional Consultation:

The general objective of organising the West African Regional Consultation in Dakar, Senegal is to bring LDC CSOs of this region together to review and assess the implementation challenges of IPoA in relation to the integration of SDGs and Other Internationally Agreed Development Goals (OIADGs). The specific objectives of this are to:

  • Awareness-raising on the issues of LDCs and the IPoA along with the ways to bring about synergy and coherence between the IPoA and the SDGs among all stakeholders, namely, representatives from the government, CSOs, development partner organisations, the media as well as the private sector,
  • Campaigning and Advocacy on the LDCs issues and the IPoA, its synergy with the SDGs with all stakeholders at all levels,
  • Alliance-building and Networking with parties in national, regional and global levels on the LDCs and the IPoA process,
  • Review and Sharing of issues and constraints confronting all stakeholders towards the effective implementation of the IPoA, along the lines of the Eight Priority Areas of Action,
  •  Review the national strategic planning on effective monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the IPoA,
  • Strengthening the work of national focal points (NFPs) of LDC Watch and increase co-operation among them, and
  • Issuing a declaration on fostering strong synergies and coherence between the priorities of the IPoA and the 2030Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure more resilient future for LDCs in West Africa.

The two-day Regional Consultation will focus its main deliberations in the following four thematic areas including 1. Poverty, Conflict and Development in West African LDCs 2. Climate Change and Adaptation in West African LDCs 3. Agriculture, Food Security and Food Sovereignty in West African LDCs and 4. Trade, Technology Transfer and International Cooperation.

Facts about LDCs in the World:

As we are all aware, there are altogether 48 countries with the LDC category in the world as per the UN definition. These countries host almost 1 billion (954 in 2015) population which is little more than 13% of the global population. It is very sad to say that 51% of the population in LDCs lives on less than $1.25 per day and It is estimated that 24% – 210 million people – live with hunger in LDCs. It is unfortunate that LDCs which are in fact very rich in natural resources and abundant window of opportunity of demographic dividend are forced to live in poverty, hunger and the most difficult circumstances. According to UN OHRLLS, LDCs typically suffer from three different types of development traps: first, low incomes which lead to low investment, limited economic growth, and high levels of poverty; secondly, a low-level of economic divergence and heavy dependency on primary commodities exports, and finally, weak productive capacities.

About West African LDCs:

Currently there are 34 countries in Africa out of 48 LDCs in the world. Among them 12 out of 18 countries are LDCs in West Africa including Benin, Burkino Faso, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bisau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leaona, Togo and Mauritania where as Cape Verde has graduated from its LDC status in 2011. West Africa has a very rich history of culture, music, food, farming and oral tradition. Women in this region make up the vast majority of agriculture and farming. They are the reason behind food production, cultural rules and traditions of land ownership and control.

Today, the UN classifies 73% of West African states as Least Developed Countries (LDCs). ECOWAS accounts for 35% of the African LDCs-making West Africa the foremost LDC region in Africa and, indeed the world as a whole. West Africa ‘s trade and aid dependence on the traditional Northern development partners have remained virtually the same since the flush of independence more than five decades ago.

We are all aware of the huge challenges that confronted in West Africa at their independence, following years of unbridled exploitation and utter neglect of the basic needs of the citizens by the colonial masters; Britain, France and Portugal. Consequently, successful nation building has remained the biggest challenge for them, because their economies are small, weak and highly competitive. Accordingly, they are unable to exploit the complementarities of big and strong economies, and are equally incapable of competing effectively within the global economy. Equally depressing is the fact that West Africa does not produce enough food to feed its people despite its fertile land; none of the fifteen member countries in this region is self-sufficient in their basic food needs including Nigeria.

Challenges to the sustainable development of West African LDCs remain, with some new and increasing risks and uncertainties threatening their development gains, including lower and volatile commodity prices, major natural disasters, climate change impact and health epidemics like the Ebola outbreak and painful post war transition. There is also endemic drug and human trafficking, environmental degradation and global warming, as well as debilitating diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS, all of which combine to make the life of the average West African citizen short and difficult. This has also made their progress in economic development, human resources development and capacity to prevent and tackle the natural disasters very slow and uneven.

About the IPoA 2011-2020:

The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the decade 2011-2020 was adopted at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in May 2011. It constitutes a global compact supporting the development of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

The IPoA has its 47 goals and targets. In addition, LDCs committed to undertake 126 actions and development partners committed to implement 109 actions. LDCs and development partners agreed to undertake 16 joint actions to implement the eight interlinked priority areas including: Productivity capacity, Agriculture, food security and rural development, Trade, Commodities, Human and social development, Multiple crises and other emerging challenges, Mobilising financial resources for development and capacity building and Good governance at all levels.

The comprehensive Midterm Review, which was held in May 2016 in Antalya Turkey, was an important milestone in the review and monitoring of the IPoA. It stressed that the implementation of the agreed actions needs to be accelerated in order to meet the goals and targets, with a special focus on resilience building and means of implementation, including investment promotion and support for science and technology.

Integration between the IPoA and SDGs:

LDCs have made some progress towards graduation, which is the overarching goal of the IPoA, since 2011. While only three countries graduated from the LDC category up to 2011, namely Botswana, Cabo Verde and Maldives, the number of countries meeting the graduation criteria increased significantly since then. Samoa graduated in January 2014 and ten additional LDCs reached the graduation thresholds as of March 2015. Equatorial Guinea is scheduled to graduate in 2017.

International Development Cooperation:

In this context the concrete opportunities and challenges of LDCs in the implementation of the international agreements and especially the SDGs need to be explored in order to ensure coherence and synergies between the different agendas. The progress made and challenges encountered in the first five years of the IPoA’s implementation has many lessons learned and it needs to be scaled up and how synergies with the new agendas of 2015 – the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), and the Paris Agreement on climate change (COP 21) and The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 can be enhanced. For this, there is the need for reliable data and enhanced and effective global partnerships for Means of Implementation (MOI) as per the global commitments of donors and development partners. Graduation and smooth transition strategies should be integrated into national development strategies as well as donors’ development cooperation strategies.

Regional Cooperation and Integration:

Regional cooperation among the LDCs is the process of overcoming the socio-economic and political barriers they have encountered and develop required accord for common minimum programme to share the resources, technology and knowledge to achieve the national goals. Therefore, we call on the governments, donors and development partners to collaborate with each other to end poverty, hunger and diseases, which are the most common challenges of WA, through the strengthened regional unionisation and partnership.

The role of the state:

Each state in LDCs has prepared its graduation planning for achieving the IPoA goals and objectives based on its priority goals. Despite vigorous efforts that the states have been undertaking for implementation of IPoAs in this region, the progress they have made is not satisfactory. They need to improve quite a lot in governance, inter-agency cooperation and prevention of corruption for increased productive capacity, technology enhancement and human and social development.

Structural transformation, which is an urgent need in LDCs demands an increase in productivity in agriculture, industry and services sector, which is crucial in eradicating poverty and hunger. A rights based approach with active participation of people must be promoted to in the development dimension of LDCs.

The role of CSOs and political space:

The contributions of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the emerging roles of the citizens in the integration process are equally very important.
By way of a definition, CSOs are a public space between the state, the market and the ordinary household, in which people can debate and take action. CSOs can contribute positively to national development efforts through their advocacy, service delivery, local capacity building, poverty alleviation; monitoring and evaluation ‘, etc.

Established in 2001 during Third UN LDC Conference held in Brussels in 2001, LDC Watch has been working as the CSO voice in national, regional and international arena for the implementation of BPoA 2001, IPoA 2011 and their integration with the SDGs and Other Internationally Agreed Goals (OIAGs). As a common platform of global CSOs, LDC Watch has been advocating for more public space for LDC CSOs and contributing for alliance building, networking and policy advocacy for the rights and best interest of LDCs.

Conclusion:

Democracy, peace and stability are the most common features for the sustainable development. But in order to enhance their development and productive capacity, countries need to work in cooperation in regional and international levels. Now, more than ever before, all countries no matter whether they are developed or developing all need one another to survive and develop in a world where states are intricately weaved together economically, politically and technologically, with significant externalities for those that are unable to catch the true spirit of pro-people globalisation. Experiences have revealed that no country in the world is absolutely safe. If some parts of the world is suffering from hunger, war and scarcity how come the rest of the world can enjoy peace, progress and prosperity. Therefore, we sincerely need to focus on people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership (5 Ps) which are considered as the essential elements of the SDGs.

At the end, I wish that this Regional CSO Consultation on LDCs Graduation in West Africa in reference to IPoA and SDGs be a success and meaningful.

Thank you,