UN conference in New York to assess progress in landlocked countries’ connectivity

UN conference in New York to assess progress in landlocked countries’ connectivity

Five years have passed since the adoption in Vienna at the UN Conference on landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) of the Programme of action for the decade 2014-2024, in which the world community presented a strategy to strengthen the competitiveness of economies in this category and to facilitate access to international markets for their products.

A two-day event dedicated to the Midterm Review of the Vienna Programme of Action for the 32 countries of the world that do not have borders with the open seas will start today in New York.

Challenged geographical conditions, remoteness from world markets, lack of access to major seaports, transport dependence on neighbouring countries, which are often themselves developing countries – all this sometimes hinders these nations from achieving the desired economic well-being for their 440 million population.

They face high trade and transport costs, as well as difficulties due to limited or low-quality infrastructure, customs procedures in multiple transits. However, in the absence of all these negative factors, the level of development of land-locked countries, according to UN estimates, would be 20% higher.

According to Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu – the United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, the Midterm Review is the time to review progress, identify gaps and propose innovative solutions to accelerate implementation of the Vienna Programme over the next five years.

The measures listed in the Programme include expanding and renewing partnerships between LLDCs, transit countries and development partners; strengthening regional integration; increasing investment in sustainable infrastructure development and technical exploitation; trade facilitation; efforts to address the internal and external vulnerabilities of LLDCs; and strengthening technical assistance in capacity-building for LLDCs.

Of course, since the adoption of the Vienna Programme of Action, there have been positive developments in the implementation of regional, subregional and multilateral initiatives among LLDCs and transit countries in support of cross-border transport.

For example, the transport corridors operating under the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Programme have managed to achieve the specific objective of the Vienna Programme of Action to increase the speed of movement of cargo flows and now goods travel on these multimodal routes up to 300-400 km per day.

In total, the CAREC region has six corridors linking the five landlocked countries – Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan – with Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East. At the end of 2018, the total investment in transport connectivity in the CAREC area exceeded US $ 25 billion.

– The Vienna Programme of Action has a straightforward goal: address the challenges of the landlocked developing countries in a more comprehensive manner than ever before. There is no doubt that we now have greater awareness of the LLDC issues: there is increased visibility, and also the recognition that LLDCs have special needs that have to be addressed at the international level, and in the work of the United Nations, underlined Fekitamoeloa Utoikamanu.

As known, Turkmenistan proposes to host an International Ministerial conference of landlocked developing countries next year. The forum is intended to be one of the main stages in the development of the Ashgabat process, launched at the first UN Global conference on transport, held in Ashgabat in 2016.

Turkmenistan initiated the UN General Assembly resolution “Strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve Sustainable Development Goals”, which was co-sponsored by 74 states.

This document reaffirms the importance of addressing the special needs of LLDCs by establishing and promoting efficient transit transport systems and emphasizes the significant role of the Vienna Programme of Action as a fundamental framework for genuine partnerships between landlocked and transit developing countries and their development partners at the national, bilateral, subregional, regional and global levels.