The Vienna Program of Action was adopted at the Second UN Conference on LLDCs in Vienna in November 2014. The program was developed for the period 2014-2024 to address some of the unique challenges faced by landlocked developing countries. To address these unique challenges faced by LLDCs concerning lack of direct territorial access to the sea and limited connectivity with the global market resulting in high cost of trade, the program identified six priority areas for action to be taken by the LLDCs and international community - fundamental transit policy issues, infrastructure development, international trade and trade facilitation, regional integration, structural economic transformation and means of implementation. In December 2019, a high-level mid-term review on the implementation of VPoA was carried out to take stock of the progress made, identify challenges and constraints encountered, and chart out a renewed course of action to accelerate the implementation of the program. The report of the high-level mid-term review identified several challenges faced by the LLDCs since the adoption of the VPoA, and provided recommendations to enable these countries to accelerate achievement of the VPoA objectives. While the review recognized that tangible progress has been made in some areas, it highlighted the critical areas where further action was required from all the parties including the international community, transit developing countries, private sector, and development financial institutions, to enable LLDCs to transform their economies and realize further integration with the global market. Furthermore, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts raised greater urgency for the need to support LLDCs.
The high-level mid-term review resulted in the adoption of the ‘Roadmap for Accelerated Implementation of the Vienna Program of Action for LLDCs in the Remaining Five Years’ - a visionary document with practical steps to accelerate the implementation of VPoA. The roadmap identified six priority areas and 24 action areas: Priority area 1: Transit, trade and transport facilitation Priority area 2: Energy and ICT Priority area 3: Structural Economic Transformation Priority area 4: Cooperation between LLDCs and transit countries Priority area 5: Means of implementation and international support Priority area 6: Other areas
This paper seeks to assess the level of alignment of national development strategies of five LLDCs in Asia, namely Afghanistan, Bhutan, Lao PDR, Mongolia, and Nepal, with the roadmap's priority areas and action areas. Based on the assessment it will identify gaps and issues for consideration for the next program of action for LLDCs, and areas to strengthen regional cooperation. A further impetus is given to regional transport and energy connectivity in view of their urgency in response to the lessons learnt from Covid-19 pandemic and in response to challenges posed by climate change. The assessment is mainly based on the VPoA Roadmap and national development strategies of the respective countries. The paper is organized as follows. Section II provides an overview of the national development strategies of the five countries, and examines their level of alignment with the roadmap’s priority areas and action areas based on the mapping analysis carried out. Section III identifies the gaps that need to be addressed in implementing the roadmap based on the previous section. Added emphasis on transport and energy connectivity is highlighted in this section. Section IV discusses the issues for consideration in the next program of action and provides possible areas to strengthen regional and multilateral cooperation in particular, mainly in the areas of trade facilitation, financing/aid for trade, and technical support with the development partners.