Iceland General Debate Statement by
Thórdís Sigurdardottir, Head of Mission, Embassy of Iceland in Uganda
Allow me to first thank the Government of Qatar for hosting the second part of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
The world has changed drastically since we last met in Istanbul 12 years ago. Unfortunately, not for the better. Gains made over the past decade in poverty eradication are evaporating. The significant progress that LDCs have achieved through decades of effort is fading due to soaring food and energy prices, the climate crisis and increasing hunger and inequality. It is therefore highly opportune that we convene here in Qatar to provide a second boost to the Doha Programme of Action and fulfill our commitments to the LDCs. Strengthened partnerships with the LDCs is needed now more than ever.
Ladies and gentleman,
Human rights, gender equality, and the environment are unwavering priorities in Iceland´s development cooperation. The achievement of gender equality is essential to achieving sustained, inclusive, and equitable economic growth and addressing climate change and environmental degradation is key for sustainable development. Iceland is no stranger to the three interconnected pillars of sustainability: environment, society, and economy. Sustainability has, in fact, been the key to our prosperity. By respecting our nature and its resources and promoting gender equality and human rights we have seen rapid and relatively inclusive socioeconomic growth.
The Doha Programme of Action will serve as a blueprint for the next 8 years. The blueprint’s emphasis on eradicating poverty, investing in people, achieving gender equality and addressing environmental degradation and climate change aligns with Iceland’s strategic focus and priorities. It is now up to us member states to fulfill the potential of the Doha Programme of Action.
Iceland is committed to play its part, especially now during these trying times. Our ODA continues to grow and we are increasing our core funding to all our main UN partners. Our contributions to climate finance are increasing and so is our assistance to some of the most fragile places on earth. And as the far-reaching ramifications of the war in Ukraine, have hit the most vulnerable the hardest, Iceland has decided to make sure that Iceland’s strong support for Ukraine is on top of existing ODA levels as developing countries are disproportionally affected. Furthermore, all three of our bilateral development partners are LDCs in Africa.
Iceland is a small donor and therefore places an even stronger emphasis on high-quality partnerships. We work with national governments, district authorities and other development partners, based on a human rights-based approach working with both duty-bearers and rights-holders. Local ownership is emphasized, both as a principle and to ensure sustainability. In this regard, we have adopted a programme-based approach at the district level while aligning with national government efforts. This localisation effort requires higher short-term investments but increases the long-term sustainability.
But ODA alone cannot address the needs of the LDCs or ensure the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. We need to expand on new and innovative partnerships and funding streams, including blended finance, and green and gender bonds. Domestic resource mobilization must be strengthened, and illicit financial flows curbed. The external debt burden and debt service obligations is preventing far too many LDCs from investing in their people and recovering from COVID-19. A holistic approach to financing for development is more urgent than ever.
LDCs are more vulnerable than ever. But there are seeds of hope and opportunity which will ensure we move from potential to prosperity. Harnessing the power of the youth and their innovative mindsets has the power to transform our societies. This requires us to adequately invest in the social sectors, such as health and education, to achieve structural change. This is why Iceland emphasizes investments in health, education and water and sanitation in its bilateral development cooperation.
Iceland recognizes the immense task we, the global community have at hand in addressing the severe climate change taking place in all parts of the world. We pay special attention to the impact climate change has on the LDCs as a group of countries as we do also for the SIDS.
During the past two years Iceland has emphasized the dire need for strengthening the level of resource mobilization needed for funds to tackle the issue. For this Iceland has stepped up significantly its contributions to the already agreed facilities for this purposes, namely the Green Climate Fund and the Adaption Fund.
In addition, Iceland is working with other likeminded sovereign donors under UNDP´s Climate Promise facility, which support over 100 hundred countries in their quest to achieve their NDCs before 2050. And similarly, Iceland is a founding member of the Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF) which supports LDCs in addressing their needs to monitor, observe and address changing weather conditions under the leadership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Looking ahead, it is now clear that in order to tackle climate change sufficiently all stakeholders must be brought to the table. We must find ways to leverage private and philanthropic funding towards our common global task; to cut emissions and at the same time enhance what is becoming a call for a new green industrial revolution based on clean and sustainable energy sources.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is Iceland’s sincere wish that the next time we meet, we have graduated at least 16 countries from the LDC category, as they are on track to do. This conference and our subsequent actions are indeed a litmus test for the idea of leaving no one behind during the current hardships. Our global commitment to solidarity and cooperation is weakened if we do not fulfill our commitments to the LDCs. You can count on Iceland in playing its part.