The Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs (CSN) Development Report assesses the development challenges for least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) in the region. These countries are collectively referred to as countries in special situations (CSS). The 2023 Report will focus on the role of transport, energy and ICT connectivity as catalysis of sustainable development in CSS and examine cooperation needs and options, especially considering the limited time left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Seamless and sustainable connectivity across countries is central to improving the lives of people in CSS. Improved transport connectivity can lower trade costs and enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of doing business, especially in LLDCs and SIDS which are disadvantaged due to their lack of territorial access to the sea and/or geographical remoteness from international markets. Improved digital connectivity can assist CSS, especially those with a small population and relatively poor resource endowments, to harness economies of scale while enhancing access to innovative solutions. Economies of scale can also be achieved through greater energy connectivity, which will, in turn, expand the range of sustainable energy solutions and facilitate a green energy transition.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis in Ukraine and the urgency of the climate change response have further heightened the importance of seamless and sustainable connectivity in these countries. Disruptions in transport connectivity are adversely affecting LLDCs and SIDS. These are compounded by growing energy security concerns in import fuel-dependent countries. Digital connectivity has become more essential than ever before because of its critical role in crisis response, remote working and learning, and provision of healthcare services, especially in countries with large rural populations, such as LDCs, and those with a geographically dispersed population, such as SIDS. In light of the large and persistent financing gaps in CSS, synergies must be sought between transport, energy and digital connectivity initiatives in the region.
Against this background, the Report will highlight the importance of seamless and sustainable connectivity in addressing the inherent structural weaknesses of CSS, such as geographic remoteness of LLDCs, the lack of scale economies of SIDS and low levels of productive capacities in LDCs. It will identify challenges and opportunities in further enhancing connectivity in transport, energy and ICT and discuss how and in what areas regional cooperation can address the challenges and foster the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and green economy in Asia-Pacific LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS.
Objective of the meeting
The meeting will gather insights of experts from academia and think-tanks, particularly in/for Asia-Pacific LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, as well as the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, with a view to guiding the preparation of the Asia-Pacific CSN Development Report 2023.
Key questions for discussions are as follows:
- What are the key connectivity challenges that the Asia-Pacific countries in special situations (CSS) have been facing in responding to multiple crises, such as the pandemic, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and the climate change crisis?
- How can regional cooperation for connectivity facilitate a shift towards a sustainable, low-carbon, and/or resilient economy in CSS? Which connectivity initiatives have the potential to do so?
- How can synergies between connectivity initiatives in transport, energy and ICT be realized for CSS? Which connectivity initiatives have the potential to do so?