Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230224 - UN Committee for Development Policy Interaction with ECOSOC Membership


24 February 2023

Statement by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations

Australia welcomes the briefing of the Committee for Development Policy on its deliberations during its Twenty-Fifth Plenary Session. This Committee plays an important role in advising UN Member States, through ECOSOC, on the challenges and opportunities developing countries experience in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

These challenges are particularly immense at the moment, as we all continue to experience the ongoing economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, acute shortages in food and energy supply, and the devastating and wide-reaching effects on climate change.

While we have all felt the impact of these global challenges, developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, disproportionately bear the brunt.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the statement delivered just now by my colleague, Her Excellency Jane Waetara, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Solomon Islands, outlining her Government’s request for an extension of the LDC graduation transition period to 2027.

As Solomon Islands’ main development partner, providing over AUD161 million (USD111 million) of Official Development Assistance in 2021-22, Australia has a deep understanding of Solomon Islands’ unique development challenges, and recognises the merit of this request.

Solomon Islands, one of the Pacific’s poorest countries, is highly vulnerable to external shocks that can rapidly reverse development progress.

In the period since the Committee made its recommendation in 2018 that Solomon Islands should graduate from LDC status, the country has been severely impacted by a range of factors largely outside of its control. Solomon Islands’ GDP growth declined by 4.5 percent in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and contracted by a further 4.5 percent in 2022 – the third consecutive year of contraction.

Solomon Islands has also experienced continued fragility over the last few years, including arising from COVID-19 border closures, civil unrest in November 2021 and a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake in November 2022, which caused significant damage to major infrastructure, including Government offices. These setbacks demonstrate Solomon Islands’ continued vulnerability to rapid loss of development gains.

Australia welcomes the recommendation by the Committee for Development Policy that Solomon Islands’ graduation be deferred by three years, in light of these development challenges. We encourage Member States to give favourable consideration of this request.