Adverse conditions stop poorer countries reaching development goals, Laos tells UN

29 September 2014

Armed conflicts, political unrests, pandemics, and environmental degradation have impeded efforts by the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) to reach the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisovlith told the United Nations General Assembly today.

“As a landlocked and least developed country, the Lao [People’s Democratic Republic] remains vulnerable and still faces numerous challenges, especially in achieving some MDG targets, including reducing child malnutrition, ensuring gender equality in education, reducing child and maternal mortality, and minimizing the impacts of unexploded ordnances dropped during the (Vietnam) war, he told the Assembly’s 69th annual high-level meeting.

He also called for the UN to strengthen itself through the reform of its various organs to “fulfil its obligations in a more effective manner.”

Taking to the podium this afternoon, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hor Namhong, said that climate change is having devastating effects on developing countries as they mostly rely on agriculture and also suffer from typhoons, floods and draughts.


Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong of Cambodia addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

For instance, in 2013, heavy monsoon rains caused extensive flooding across Cambodia, claiming 168 lives, causing one billion dollars of damage and affecting 1.8 million people. He underscored the need to further implement the UN principle of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities”, because industrialized counties emit the largest amount of greenhouse gas, while developing countries become the main victims of climate change.

With the deadline for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fast approaching, many developing countries had not attained the Goals primarily due to unfulfilled commitments, lack of resources, and food insecurity. Cambodia has made progress by reducing poverty to 19 per cent and reducing HIV prevalence to 0.6 per cent in 2013. He added that the post-2015 development agenda must be realistic and built upon the lessons learned from the difficulties in the realization of the MDGs.

Also speaking today, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said “corruption is a drag on development,” and an intrinsic source of social instability and fighting it required political will and unceasing vigilance.


Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam of Singapore addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Honest and competent Government is integral to development. Governments need sound and effective institutions. And social capital- the trust that people have in each other, their leaders, and the system- is as necessary to sustainable development as financial capital. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of sustainable urbanisation.

“To us, a sustainable city means having a competitive economy, environmental sustainability, and a high quality of life for all inhabitants, rich and poor alike,” said Mr. Shanmugam. When pursuing a post-2015 agenda, each society must draw on its own lessons from its own experiences and find solutions according to its national circumstances.


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