Speech delivered at UNIDO Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference

23.11.2017 | Vienna, Austria

Speech of OFID Director-General Suleiman J Al-Herbish at the opening session of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference on November 23, 2017. The conference focused on: Building global partnerships: Enhancing growth and inclusiveness in LDCs.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is always a pleasure to speak to you and I would like to thank my dear friend, Mr LI Yong, for giving me the opportunity to talk to you about two of my favorite topics. OFID’s relationship with the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and how our alliance with UNIDO helps implement the help they need.

OFID’s commitment to developing the productive capacities of LDCs extends back more than 40 years to our very first operation, which was approved in 1976 (Sudan). As a matter of fact, our establishing agreement states that, “in carrying out its functions, the Fund shall pay special attention to the needs of the less developed among eligible countries.”

So you see, our cooperation with these countries predates both the 2001 establishment of the UN-OHRLLS as well as the 2011 Istanbul Declaration and Program of Action. Our endeavors supporting the LDCs are further strengthened by our commitment to the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. This partnership is, first and foremost, a continuous forum for setting and monitoring development objectives towards a joint commitment to alleviating poverty.

Our engagement equates to more than half of all our public sector loans enabling the development of the LDCs. These operations include our debt relief initiative to the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) which has assisted more than a dozen LDCs over the years.

The main goal of the Istanbul Declaration and Program of Action is to enable half of the 48 least developed countries to graduate out of this category by 2020.

Our commitments have borne fruit in helping to achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth. For instance, the US$178 million that OFID has committed to the Maldives, Cabo Verde, Samoa, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea has contributed to their graduation out of the LDC category.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, Now, let me say a few words about how our cooperation with UNIDO is strengthened by our purpose. The best example I can think of is energy poverty alleviation.

Energy poverty alleviation is a cause that OFID has championed since receiving a special mandate from the Third OPEC Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November 2007. In our pursuit of this noble goal, it is especially gratifying that many different institutions have joined forces with us in helping place access to sustainable energy for all on the 2030 Global Development Agenda as SDG7.

One such strategic alliance, under the wise leadership of Mr LI Yong, is UNIDO. In this respect, let me quote what my dear friend LI Yong wrote in his Foreword for my book ‘Uniting Against Poverty’. In this, he said the following:

Energy is a great integrator: it cuts across all sectors and lies at the heart of the interests of all countries, industries and communities.

The inclusion of energy access in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the clear recognition that SDG7 is essential to achieve other SDGs, underscores the enduring and deep relationship between OFID and UNIDO. SDG7 would not have been possible without the strategic partnerships and joint efforts of OFID, UNIDO, and other like-minded institutions.

There are many examples of the way our two organizations’ actions on the ground neatly complement each other: last year, OFID granted funds to ECREEE to build mini-grids in four western African countries; OFID supports and participates in the Vienna Energy Forum, of which UNIDO is a major advocate; and OFID directly supports other important aspects of UNIDO’s work, with grants for ongoing projects in the agri-food sector in Ethiopia and the fisheries value chain in Latin America.

Our alliance was forged in our common desire to end energy poverty and it has been strengthened by the common conviction that access to modern energy services is a vital precondition to achieving sustainable development, including the industrialization of developing countries.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, I leave you with these words from Mr LI Yong, and I remain confident that similar collaborations, partnerships and cooperation growing from this conference will bolster the global community’s efforts to promote sustainable development within LDCs. Thank you.