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World Must Act to Halt Isolation of Poor Landlocked Countries, says UN

03 Nov 2014

United Nations Development Head warns small landlocked countries continue to be excluded from the benefits of globalization

Vienna, Austria – Urgent reforms on trade, finance and transport systems are needed to connect Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) with the global economy and improve the lives of their citizens, United Nations development head Helen Clark said today at a global gathering of Heads of States, multilateral organizations and businesses.

The burden of limited capacities, high poverty rates, and low human development prevents many LLDCs from being able to engage and benefit from our globalized, interconnected world. Remoteness and isolation from world markets present LLDCs with a unique set of development challenges. The international community needs to pay special attention to these challenges,” said Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Clark was speaking at the Second UN Conference on LLDCs that will shape the new development agenda for the 32 countries, half of them in Africa, for the next decade.

Because of their geographic location, landlocked countries face long delays in inland transport, customs and port handling procedures, all of which impede the expansion of trade in goods and services and economic growth.

Despite the improvement in LLDCs’ value of merchandise exports from US $33 billion in 2003 to US $224 billion in 2011, they still represent less than 1.2 percent of the total global exports.

Critical bottlenecks in infrastructure, access to energy and Internet connectivity further constrain their ability to develop. For instance, only 9 LLDCs have over 50 percent of their road network paved and the average distance to the seaport for them is 1,370 kilometres. These challenges make it more difficult to invest in the diversification of economies and establish a tax base for financing government and basic social services for all.

“To reduce poverty and kick start higher levels of growth, LLDCs need lower transaction costs, more trade and investment, and greater resilience to climate change and economic shocks,” Helen Clark said. ​

While the benefits of integration are now well-known and many of the legal frameworks in place, the biggest challenge is how to further that agenda. Among the major hurdles are harmonizing standards and regulations, boosting human resource capacities and mobilizing financial resources and political will.

The conference in Vienna will review the achievements of the Almaty Programme of Action (APoA) and mobilize additional support to accelerate its implementation. Signed in 2003, the programme aimed to forge international partnerships to overcome the specific problems of the landlocked developing countries that result in isolation, and boost their economies and development.

UNDP remains the long-standing partner of poor landlocked countries, advocating their inclusion in international fora, and helping them boost development through trade while prioritizing poverty reduction.


Since 1966 UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.


Contact Information

Nicolas Douillet, Communications Specialist, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, +1.212.906.5937.