Tokayev Addresses High-Level UN Meeting to Support Developing Countries Amid Pandemic

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev participated in a virtual high-level meeting convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, and Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness which gathered more than 50 heads of state and government, including European Commission President Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron to address the economic emergency stemming from the coronavirus outbreak in developing countries. The meeting, dubbed “On Financing for Development” focused on finding financial solutions to corona-related economic woes. 

Kazakh President Tokayev spoke on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. The group includes 32 nations – 16 in Africa; ten in Asia, including all five Central Asian countries and Afghanistan; four in Europe and two in South America. Photo credit: Akorda.kz

The after-effects of the pandemic are what Guterres described as an “unprecedented human tragedy, that is severely affecting every country, but which is hitting developing countries particularly hard.” The crisis hinders countries’ progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which as the organization believes, could be minimized if “a commensurate global response reaching at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product” is provided. 

Guetteres urged countries to “respond rapidly, provide support to all countries in need, and build better, more resilient economies and inclusive societies going forward.”

According to UN estimates, the global economy could suffer nearly $8.5 trillion in losses because of the pandemic over the next two years, forcing 34.3 million people into extreme poverty this year, and 130 million more over the next decade. 

The agenda stressed six urgent areas that focused on boosting liquidity in the global economy, addressing debt vulnerabilities for developing countries, incentivizing private creditors to get involved in debt relief efforts, expanding external finance to ensure inclusive growth, promoting gender equality and creating jobs for women, safeguarding effective domestic resource mobilization, preventing illicit flows of money, and ensure policies that will support a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

At the meeting, Tokayev spoke on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC) that Kazakhstan chairs. Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country located the farthest distance from the oceans, assumed the group chairmanship in January for the 2020-2021 term. 

“The pandemic crisis has put at risk the development gains of all countries. The LLDC is among the worst hit by severely tightened external financing, disrupted trade, supply chains, and investment flows. The international community must therefore engage in inclusive multilateralism to ensure that no country is left behind and that the 2030 SDG agenda is implemented,” said Tokayev addressing the meeting participants. 

“It is clear we cannot run business as usual. The well being of each of us depends on the well being of all of us. Financing for developing countries must bring the international community closer in cooperation and solidarity,” he said. 

He urged the international community to gear up their effort to address the growing external debt of developing countries, debt relief, enhancing food security, and transition to green and modern agrotechnologies, among other measures. 

“Specifically we call for more private investments to overcome digital inequality and inadequate internet connectivity. These measures have grown almost ten times larger than two years prior. International trade should expedite the development of all nations, especially the least developed countries,” he said. 

Tokayev also noted Kazakhstan’s contribution to the UN Global Plan on Humanitarian Responses. The document contains appeals from the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies aimed at fighting the pandemic in the world’s poorest countries to assist the most vulnerable groups.

“Kazakhstan is capable of contributing to global efforts in the key sectors of food security, mediation and conflict resolution, and peacebuilding. Finally, let me underscore once again that encouraging member states’ strong support for the implementation of the global development agenda will remain a constant priority for Kazakhstan,” he concluded. 

Working groups will be reporting to a ministerial meeting at the end of July to log their progress in addressing these concerns. 

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