Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. He can be reached on [email protected]
A top American diplomat on Monday detailed how the Biden administration is partnering with ‘least developed countries‘ around the world, many in Africa, on several areas, including health, climate and food.
Speaking in New York, Ambassador Richard Mills, U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations, told the Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries taking place next year, that the United States attaches “great importance” to its relationships with LDC partners.
‘Least developed countries’ are low-income countries that face significant structural challenges to sustainable development. The United Nations’ list of LDCs currently has close to 50 countries, many of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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“As we all grapple with the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is committed to supporting our LDC partners as they confront the compounding impact of the climate crisis, the critical need to rebuild health systems, and the growing threat of food insecurity,” Mills said. “And we are backing up that commitment with financing, investing on average about $11 billion of U.S. bilateral Official Development Assistance annually to the LDCs.”
On the current health emergency, Ambassador Mills asserted that the United States is dedicated to strengthening global health security to respond to and recover from the pandemic, and to ensure that the world is better prepared for future pandemics.
In March, the United States contributed an initial $2 billion to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to support the procurement and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income economies through COVAX and pledged to provide an additional $2 billion through 2022.
The funding is intended to advance the distribution of vaccines in lower-income countries, including LDCs, while also encouraging other donors to follow through on their pledges and increase support for COVAX.
On climate change, Ambassador Mills noted that the impacts of climate change are undeniable with LDCs being especially vulnerable.
“After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate in April to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science,” Mills said, adding that the United States and other countries also “announced ambitious new climate targets, ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade within our reach.”
During the global summit on climate hosted by President Biden, many of the leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition, as well, on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, in November in Glasgow.
“We are working with G7 and other partners to promote greater global ambition in developing a pathway to net zero global emissions by 2050, or before, and to help vulnerable countries increase their resilience and adapt to what is the devastating impacts of climate change. Our new climate finance plan outlines the U.S. intention to double climate assistance for developing countries, and triple the amount devoted to adaptation to the impact of climate change,” he said.
But healthcare and climate change are not the only areas the Biden administration is partnering with Least Developed Countries as the COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed the fragility of food systems, and has exacerbated global food insecurity and humanitarian need.
“The United States provides emergency assistance and long-term development support to vulnerable communities and countries facing COVID-19-related disruptions to their access to safe and nutritious food,” Mills said. “But we all need to do more to take bold and innovative actions now as millions more could go hungry due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, and other challenges.”
He said this year’s Food Systems Summit and next year’s LDC5 “must galvanize action from the household to the global level to promote long-term food security.”
The American diplomat called on others who financially support global development “to do the same as they partner with LDCs to address development challenges.”
“As we face the pandemic and move forward as a global community, the United States remains committed to partnership and working to ensure those most vulnerable among us are not left behind,” Mills said.