Egypt’s Participation in the 5th UN Conference on the Least Development Countries (LDC5)
Monday، 06 March 2023 - 06:49 PM
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.
This year's theme is From Potential to Prosperity where over five days of the LDC5 Conference in Doha, world leaders gather with the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians, and young people to advance new ideas, raise new pledges of support, and spur delivery on agreed commitments, through the Doha Program of Action. It is expected that at the Conference, specific initiatives and concrete deliverables will be announced that will address LDC-specific challenges including the climate crisis and environmental degradation.
On behalf of H.E. the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, addressed the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 5-9 March 2023, with the participation of world leaders, representatives of the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians and youth to bring forward new ideas, obtain new commitments of support, and stimulate the fulfillment of the commitments agreed through the Doha Programme of Action. The conference is expected to announce specific initiatives and tangible results that will help address the challenges of the least developed countries.
In her opening remarks, the Minister expressed appreciation and gratitude to H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar and Chairperson of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, H.E. President Lazarus Chakwera, H.E. President of the Republic of Malawi and Chairperson of the Least Developed Countries Group, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, for convening this edition of the conference, which is one of the most important international forums and platforms that monitor the challenges faced by the least developed countries and the international community's efforts to stimulate and build international and regional partnerships to address these challenges and find solutions that promote the achievement of sustainable development in those countries.
The speech emphasized the leadership role of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in promoting the value and impact of development activities at the regional and international levels, unremitting efforts to consolidate the principles of multilateral cooperation and solidarity and to place the United Nations and its specialized agencies at the forefront of helping developing and least developed countries address their development challenges, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to ensure that no one is left behind, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations General Charter.
Moreover, the President’s speech pointed out that in light of the successive crises the world is experiencing and their impacts on health systems and food security in developing and least developed countries as well as the world's most disadvantaged peoples, as well as the resulting structural pressures and health, economic and social damage, integration and cooperation by the international community family, addressing economic, social and environmental challenges and building on the value of solidarity and regional and international partnerships is necessary for a better future for people and future generations, as well as a sustainable solution to the crises and instabilities facing developing and least developed countries.
The speech also expressed the appreciation of the Government of Egypt for the importance of multilateral cooperation in changing the international landscape and achieving inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic and social peace for developing and least-developed countries, which struggle from high rates of poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and lack of access to basic services for their citizens, inviting us all to re-examine national policies, legislation and tools used in their implementation and build on innovation and more integrated and sustainable solutions.
It was mentioned that the African continent, which hosts 71% of the world's least developed countries, faces many development challenges related to food security, especially in light of the geopolitical crisis facing Eastern Europe, and the inability of many countries to achieve self-sufficiency in basic goods and balance supply chains. H.E. added that the Arab Republic of Egypt has been keen to launch a national food and nutrition strategy aimed at the forefront of its initiatives to link presidential initiatives and investment in public health in order to achieve food and nutrition security.
The speech highlighted Egypt's chairmanship of the current session of the Steering the African Union Assembly on AUDA - NEPAD during 2023-2025. It intends to strengthen cooperation efforts with African countries through the Agency's Secretariat through a clear vision of specific goals and objectives through:
1- Intensifying efforts to mobilize financing resources in areas of priority for the continent, including infrastructure development in order to achieve the goals of the African Development Agenda 2036, especially mobilizing resources for 69 projects until 2023, including the Lake Victoria project, the Cairo-Cape Town Road, and other projects.
2- Industrial transformation and building on the outputs of the extraordinary Africa Summit held in Miami last November and developing continental value chains.
3- Accelerating the realization of the aspirations targeted by the Continental Free Trade Agreement, while supporting African countries to benefit from the opportunities that the agreement will provide for integration into the global economy and provide job opportunities, especially among youth and women.
4- Emphasizing the participation of African countries for their expertise in the field of infrastructure, as Egypt has engaged in a pioneering development experience over the past eight years and has contributed to the implementation of many vital projects on the continent, including the Julius Nyerere Dam in Tanzania, which was implemented in partnership with Egyptian expertise and companies.
5- Intensifying cooperation and coordination with international partners and international financing institutions in order to bridge the financing gap in sustainable development projects and reduce debt burdens on the most affected countries, while taking advantage of the new initiatives that are being put forward during the partnership summits of the African Union.
The speech stated that climate change and natural disasters would remain important for discussion in our international and regional forums because of the challenges and risks they pose to natural resources and the threat to human life, pointing out that the exacerbation of these risks raises the alarm for adherence to international covenants and treaties to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in order to preserve the planet. The degree of global warming is at less than 1.5 degrees, and this highlights the role of international institutions that give priority to developing and least developed countries to provide development assistance, the need to standardize the patterns and policies of development work and focus more on promoting investments and stimulating the role of the private sector in comprehensive and sustainable development and empowerment, especially for youth and women.
During Egypt's presidency of the COP27 Climate Conference, the government was keen to establish an innovative model for developing and least developed countries in order to develop solutions to the most complex equation ever, which is adapting to climate changes through mitigation and adaptation projects that enhance the strength of countries in addressing these changes in quantity and quality. In addition to addressing economic and social gaps, the Government of Egypt launched many joint international initiatives with development partners in many sectors, including the Nexus for Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) platform, which is based on integration and interdependence of the water, food and energy sectors, and represents an important experience for the least developed countries in how to address climate change in light of the limited development funding and the multiple economic crises the world is going through.
Additionally, the Government of Egypt launched the "Haya Karima" initiative, which is an example of initiatives aimed at achieving integrated development in rural areas, which enhance efforts to eradicate poverty in the villages of the Egyptian countryside and provide high-quality basic services, pointing to joint efforts with the United Nations to share experiences as well as national and international experiences within the framework of cooperation with the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for 2023 - 2027 by investing in human capital, promoting job creation, supporting the transition to a green economy, developing health and education sectors, strengthening national monitoring and evaluation systems, and localizing sustainable development goals.
The speech expressed the aspiration of the Arab Republic of Egypt to what the Doha Programme of Action will achieve for the least developed countries, and its hope that it would achieve what the countries pledged forty years ago at the first United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in September 1981.
The speech stressed that the provision of the minimum basic services in the areas of health, education, employment, nutrition and housing is an inherent right of people in all parts of the earth with their various groups, and Egypt is working on this in order to provide a decent life for all citizens and implement the national strategy for human rights and the international principles agreed upon by it. In order to ensure the prosperity and well-being of the people and to transfer the experience to the least developed countries to help them return to the right track to achieve sustainable development through multilateral partnership and joint action plans that achieve these goals, foremost of which is the empowerment of women, youth, the private sector and start-up companies.
The speech of H.E. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi concluded by referring to the great importance of effective and effective multilateral development work, as it constitutes a lifeline for many developing and least developed countries in light of the multiplication of economic risks and challenges that the world is going through and affecting the lives of peoples.
H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, participated in two high-level panel discussions on “Structural Transformation as a Driver of Prosperity in LDCs” and “Investment in R&D in LDCs for Smart and Innovative Societies”, at the 5th UN Conference on LDCs in Doha, Qatar, from 5-9 March 2023, under the theme "From Potential to Prosperity".
The session on “Structural Transformation as a Driver of Prosperity in LDCs” discussed the long-term transition process in economic activities from primary sectors, such as resource extraction and agriculture, to productive activities, such as manufacturing and services, in order to achieve comprehensive and sustainable economic growth and double the share of the LDCs in world trade. The session also discusses patterns through the Doha Programme of Action, the UN is working to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable structural transformation capable of increasing productivity and promoting infrastructure development, especially transportation and energy, and linking to global and regional value chains.
The session included Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, along with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the Prime Minister of Nepal, officials of the London School of Economics, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, officials of the International Trade Centre, the European Investment Bank, and other representatives of governments, international institutions and UN organizations, participated in the session.
In her speech, Al-Mashat thanked the Qatari government for inviting the Government of Egypt to participate in this forum, pointing out the importance of the topics and debates on supporting and overcoming the challenges facing the LDCs. H.E. noted that structural reforms are undoubtedly critical to fostering inclusive and sustainable growth in LDCs, there are a number of factors to consider, most importantly state ownership and leadership of structural reform efforts that serve national priorities and strategies, along with the implementation of programs that provide social protection, as well as the adjustment and adaptation of incentive policies to the private sector, improving the efficiency of financial markets and public institutions and enhancing their readiness for digital transformation, as well as increasing the inclusion rate and financial services penetration.
The Minister pointed to the importance of programs related to South South and Triangular Cooperation to enable countries to benefit from and build on previous experiences while taking into account national priorities. Moreover, H.E. stressed the importance of the efforts made by international institutions and multilateral development banks in relation to equitable financing that can enable countries to implement their plans on structural reforms.
The session on “Investment in R&D in LDCs for Smart and Innovative Societies” witnessed the participation of Al-Mashat along with several representatives of governments and international institutions, including the Prime Minister of Bangladesh who delivered the keynote address, UN officials, World Intellectual Property Organization officials, and others.
Al-Mashat stressed the importance of research and development capacities and their role in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth in all countries in the face of the changing world, noting that the Government of Egypt stipulated in the constitution to allocate a specific percentage of the country's domestic product to research and development efforts as the country works to expand and increase spending on academic institutions in the field of science, technology and innovation.
Additionally, H.E. pointed to the joint relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and development partners, academic and research institutions, and programs implemented with development partners to expand technological universities and research efforts, noting that the cooperation portfolio includes 35 projects in the field of research, innovation, digital transformation and entrepreneurship that contribute to the implementation of 11 SDGs worth $1 billion, representing 4.5% of the total portfolio.
The Minister touched upon some of the challenges faced by LDCs in order to strengthen people and organizational capacities in research and development, most importantly, the weak economic growth that contributes to limiting the ability of these countries to invest in education, health, infrastructure and innovation, as well as the technology gap that limits the competitiveness of those countries and their position in global markets, as well as governance structures, frameworks and funding adequacy.
H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation met with Diana Janse, State Secretary to Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, on the sidelines of the 5th UN Conference on LDCs in Doha, Qatar, from 5-9 March 2023, under the theme "From Potential to Prosperity".
At the beginning of the meeting, Al-Mashat stressed the long-standing relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Sweden, in light of the Swedish experience in various areas of development and relative advantages, especially at the level of solid waste management, food industries, engineering and machinery and equipment manufacturing, green technology, and renewable energy, pointing to the government's interest to strengthen relations with the Swedish side, especially through partnerships between the two countries' sectors in order to advance trade and investment partnerships and build on the progress made in the recent period.
The Minister also touched on the national measures to stimulate investment and attract more companies, especially in priority areas such as industry, renewable energy, electricity, tourism, agricultural development and water resources management, in order to implement the large-scale projects targeted by the state through partnerships between the public and private sectors. H.E. shared some of the Government of Egypt’s progress on stimulating green transformation efforts through projects that take into account environmental standards, sustainability and digital transformation in all sectors, as well as the launch of the National Country Climate Strategy 2050.
The meeting discussed the importance of intensifying financing mechanisms through international financial institutions, and multilateral and bilateral development partners, to promote facilitated development finance for developing countries, enabling them to implement their national development plans that align with the global goals, and expand green transition efforts.
The Nexus for Water, Food and Energy platform, also known as the NWFE country-led platform, was also discussed. Al-Mashat explained that this incorporates three pillars and sectors: water, food and energy, reflecting Egypt's efforts through this programme to advance green transition efforts and promote green investments to implement mitigation and adaptation projects. H.E. encouraged the Swedish side to look into more details of these projects to discuss possible partnerships between the two sides, especially through the private sector in their implementation.
It is worth noting that Sweden currently holds the presidency of the European Union, and the relations between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Kingdom of Sweden are characterized by diversity in many commercial, cultural and educational fields. Over the past two years, the Egyptian market has witnessed an increasing presence of Swedish companies, especially in the fields of electronics, medical equipment, and technology. A joint committee for economic, commercial and technical cooperation took place between Egypt and Sweden in 1975, supervised by the Ministry of International Cooperation, in addition to a joint business forum for businessmen from both.
Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat held a number of bilateral meetings with multilateral and bilateral development partners, to stimulate the country's development efforts.
United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)
Al-Mashat met with Dima Al-Khatib, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), where H.E. congratulated Al-Khatib on assuming her new position, wishing her a successful and fruitful mission in promoting joint action among the countries of the South.
The meeting discussed strengthening joint cooperation between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the countries of the South, to benefit from the development experiences and experiences implemented, especially the development cooperation programs implemented with multilateral and bilateral development partners, and transfer these experiences to other developing countries, especially in the African continent.
The Minister stressed that south-south cooperation is a powerful tool towards strengthening joint work between developing countries and the transfer and exchange of experiences and knowledge to achieve SDGs. H.E. pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic and successive challenges have imposed exceptional situations that negatively affect growth and development, which makes south-south and triangular cooperation indispensable to overcome these challenges and create models of constructive partnerships based on transparency and accountability and can provide solutions to cooperation according to the priorities of each country.
Al-Mashat referred to the joint efforts between the Ministry of International Cooperation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to launch an academy for cooperation between the countries of the South in Egypt. This is a platform aimed at facilitating the exchange of experiences, development solutions and documentation of knowledge in various fields of development. She pointed out that the Ministry of International Cooperation is working to strengthen the exchange of experiences and expertise, especially those projects implemented in cooperation with development partners to become a model that can be replicated through South-South cooperation.
H.E. pointed out that Egypt has pioneering experiences in various fields, headed by the Presidential Initiative for the development of the Egyptian rural areas "Haya Karima", and development cooperation programs with development partners such as the Luxor Center for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange, implemented in cooperation with the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as the Benban Solar Energy Complex, in which many partners contribute, including the World Bank Group (WBG) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, (EBRD) as well as in cooperation with Arab funds, noting that all these experiences can represent a model to be followed in other developing countries to increase the effectiveness of development cooperation.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Moreover Al-Mashat met with Isobel Coleman, Deputy Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where the Minister expressed her appreciation for the strategic partnership between Egypt and the USA, and the joint development efforts between the two countries and the cooperation programs implemented in various fields, including: sustainable infrastructure, green transformation, health, small and medium enterprises, and other priority areas.
H.E. discussed ongoing projects and programs implemented to support economic and structural reforms aimed at improving the competitiveness of the Egyptian economy and stimulating trade and investment, as well as promotion of trade and investment relations between the two countries and expanding the scope of investments of American companies in Egypt’s priority sectors.
The Ministry of International Cooperation and the USAID signed 7 grant agreements during 2022 worth approximately $160 million in the sectors of basic education, higher education, health, economic governance, trade, sustainability and climate action, including a $15 million climate initiative grant agreement.
The Minister of International Cooperation discussed the new climate initiative agreement signed at the end of last year, which will be implemented by relevant national entities to support the state's efforts in a green transition through 3 main components: sustainable tourism in the Red Sea, strengthening climate systems, and climate finance.
Additionally, the Minister discussed the Government of Egypt’s commitment to strengthen cooperation with the USA in implementing projects in various African countries through sharing successful experiences. H.E. also reviewed the country platform for Nexus for Water, Food and Energy (NWFE) platform.
It is worth mentioning that the current development cooperation portfolio between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America includes about $1 billion dollars since 2014, through which development projects and program financing are implemented in several sectors, including tourism, agriculture, small and medium enterprises and education.
The Delegation of the Republic of Cuba
The Minister of International Cooperation met with the delegation of the Republic of Cuba participating in the 5th UN LDC conference. This includes Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investments, Deborah Rivas Saavedra, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, and Oscar León González, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to the State of Qatar.The discussions included the historical common relations between Egypt and Cuba, and Egypt’s commitment to deepen joint cooperation between the two countries, in the light of the recently signed documents between the two parties in the field of media protection and trade and cultural cooperation. She added that there are many common goals and concerns between the two countries, which opens up scope for South-South cooperation, supporting efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development in developing countries.