Final Regional Review of the Almaty Programme of Action: Addressing the Special Needs of Landlocked Developing Countries within a New Global Framework for Transit Transport Cooperation for Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries

5 Mar 2013 to 7 Mar 2013
Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic

In response to GA resolution A/C.2/66/L.65, ESCAP, ECE and OHRLLS, in cooperation with the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are organizing the Euro-Asian Regional Final Review of the Almaty Programme of Action for the LLDCs (APoA) during 5-7 March 2013.

Senior government policymakers, especially Ministers dealing directly with the implementation of the APoA and other stakeholders including the private sector from 14 Euro-Asian LLDCs i.e. Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, the Republic of Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Uzbekistan together with transit developing and developed countries as well as donor agencies will be invited to participate in the meeting. The UN system, relevant regional and sub-regional organizations, development partners, civil society representatives and the private sector from the Euro-Asian region will also be invited. The objectives of the regional review are (1) to review and take stock of the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action at a regional level in Asia and Europe including identification of the major achievements, constraints experienced, emerging challenges and the opportunities presented; and (2) to identify policy recommendations and actions that need to be implemented to enable the Euro-Asian LLDCs to fully participate in the global trade and realize their full potential for sustainable and inclusive development.

After the regional review and the adoption of the Outcome Document, it would be placed at the Special Body on the LDCs and LLDCs during the sixty-ninth session of the Commission, to be held from 25 April to 1 May 2013. After it is considered by the Commission, the Outcome Document would be transmitted by the ESCAP Executive Secretary to the High Representative of OHRLLS as the regional Euro-Asian final review document for the global final review in 2014.

Background: Lack of territorial access to the sea, remoteness and isolation from world markets and high transit costs continue to impose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development of landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). Their sea borne trade unavoidably depends on transit through other countries. Additional border crossings and long distance from the market substantially increase the total expenses for the transport services. The economic performance of landlocked developing countries reflects the direct and indirect impact of geographical situation on key-economic variables. The LLDCs are generally among the poorest of the developing countries, with the weakest growth rates, and are typically heavily dependent on a very limited number of commodities for their export earnings.

The Asia-European regional mid-term review meeting of the APoA was jointly organized by ESCAP and ECE in Bangkok in April 2008. The outcome document of the meeting identified progress and obstacles in the implementation of the APoA along its five priority areas and made several recommendations on how to accelerate the implementation of the programme in the region. ESCAP also convening of a high-level policy dialogue on the APoA in April 2011 in Ulaanbaatar. That meeting adopted the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and its subsequent endorsement by the Commission in its sixty-seventh session in May 2011. The Ulaanbaatar Declaration, among other things recognized that the greatest challenge facing the landlocked developing countries is to promote inclusive and sustainable growth for reducing poverty and improving the quality of life of the people. It also expressed concern about the re emergence of rising food and energy prices and the special vulnerabilities of landlocked developing countries to such price rises.

The global as well as regional socio-economic climate has dramatically changed since the midterm review of the Almaty Programme of Action in 2008. Although significant progress has been made in several areas of APoA, LLDCs continue to face major challenges and development gaps. Harmonization of legal regimes, adoption of an integrated approach to trade and transport facilitation, elimination of physical and non-physical bottlenecks to transport, completing missing links, promoting intermodal transport, developing integrated transport corridors and logistics services and mobilizing domestic and external resources are some of the remaining challenges faced by landlocked developing countries. The multiple (or triple) food, fuel and financial crises have highlighted the vulnerabilities of the countries with special needs including LLDCs to external shocks, as well as impacts of climate related extreme weather events and natural disasters (floods, drought, sand and dust storms, etc).