COP27 High-level side event: Promoting resilience and sustainability of transport systems in Landlocked Developing Countries

Statement by Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD

COP27 High-level side event: Promoting resilience and sustainability of transport systems in Landlocked Developing Countries

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
09 November 2022

Dear Rabab Fatima, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States,

Your Excellency, Collen Vixen Kelapile, Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations and Global Chair of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries,

Dear Fellow Panelists,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We cannot achieve the 2030 Agenda without sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

This is especially true for transport infrastructure, and especially true for landlocked developing countries, who depend on them to an extreme degree.

LLDCs are at a clear disadvantage.

On average, transport costs represent a high share of the value of their exports. Moreover, they incur substantial revenue losses from inefficient border procedures. This reduces their competitiveness and prospects of inclusive growth.

Climate change is making matters much worse.

LLDCs depend heavily on road networks, which contribute heavily to carbon emission, and are also heavily exposed to climate hazards and disasters.

The cost of damages to road and rail infrastructure caused by climate change is high, in some LLDCs as high as total national transport budgets.

It is evident that requirements for transport systems in LLDCs is very complex.

On one hand, transport systems need to enhance connectivity and access to markets. On the other hand, they need to become more sustainable and less carbon intensive. How can this be achieved?

First, LLDCs require access to infrastructure adaptation finance, at rates that are affordable and that include grants.

The magnitude of such finance is considerable.

For the 2030 Agenda, low- and middle-income countries will need to spend between

0.5 and 3.3 per cent of their GDP annually in new transport infrastructure.

While another 1 to 2 two per cent of their GDP will be needed for maintaining the network.

Second, trade transit facilitation is vital.

All goods from LLDCs, without exception, need to pass through transit countries to reach global markets.

This often causes great delays, heavily constraining trade.

Studies conducted earlier this century suggest that each day of delay at the border is equivalent to an additional 86 kilometers of distance.

UNCTAD has been supporting LLDCs and transit countries in trade transit facilitation and customs automation through ASYCUDA, our flagship technical assistance program, which includes climate-smart trade facilitation solutions.

Third, resilient and sustainable seaports are also key for LLDCs, who depend on them to reach global markets, even if they are in foreign territory.

Fourth, regional and sub-regional collaborative schemes are necessary, especially for LLDCs.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

These issues highlight how much LLDCs depend on cross-border and international cooperation.

Enhancing the resilience of critical transport infrastructure is and must be a shared responsibility.

This is why UNCTAD celebrates the fact that this event is taking place today.

I wish you all an engaging, productive, and impactful session ahead. Thank you.