Unlocking the potential of Least Developed Countries: A Resident Coordinator's perspective
As much as 14 per cent of the global population lives in the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Yet LDCs account for only 1.3 per cent of the global gross domestic product and one in three people in LDCs still lives in extreme poverty. This makes them one of the planet’s greatest untapped resources and a clear battleground for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
As the world witnesses growing poverty and inequality, humanitarian emergencies and armed conflict, climate change, and with the havoc caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in many of these countries, LDC’s are at risk of being left even further behind.
Starting March 5, world leaders are gathering in Doha, Qatar, along with partners from civil society, the private sector, youth, and more, to accelerate sustainable development in places where international assistance is needed the most. Most of the expected commitments at the 5th Least Developed Countries Conference (LDC5) are part of the efforts to deliver on the promise of the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA), but what does this really entail? How are developed and developing nations alike involved? And how is the UN Development System supporting Member States to achieve those commitments?
Born out of the first part of the 5th LDC Conference last year, the Doha Programme of Action is a crucial blueprint to accelerate progress towards prosperity. Catalytic investments in these young, vibrant countries can help drive sustainable growth for generations to come. Renewed support and solidarity for the LDCs will benefit the whole world at a time when we are facing so many challenges that do not respect borders – and demand collective, multilateral solutions.
“The Doha Programme of Action reminds us that global recovery depends on LDCs getting the support they need. They need bold investments in health, education and social protection systems — all the resources required to fully implement Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Full implementation of the Doha Programme of Action will help the LDCs to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the resulting negative socio-economic impacts from the war in Ukraine including a food, fuel and financing crisis, and return to a pathway to achieve the SDGs, address climate change challenges, and makes strides towards sustainable and irreversible graduation.
The Doha Programme of Action includes a set of actions for the period 2022-2031, with a new generation of renewed and strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their development partners, including the private sector, civil society, and governments at all levels.
The Doha Programme of Action focuses on six key areas:
1. Eradicating poverty and investing in people to leave no one behind;
2. Leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation to make LDCs more resilient
3. Supporting structural transformation as a driver of prosperity;
4. Enhancing international trade among least developed countries and regional integration;
5. Addressing climate change, environmental degradation, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
6. Strong global partnerships and innovative financing
The Resident Coordinators and the UN development system on the ground play a key role in supporting the Governments of LDCs on enabling the successful implementation of the Doha Programme of Action, by:
- Exercising their unique convening role to build bridges between national stakeholders and to break siloes across the six key focus areas defined in the Doha Programme of Action.
- Supporting LDCs to mainstream the Doha Programme of Action into National Development Planning processes and brokering partnerships for the realisation of country commitments.
- Supporting countries in identifying opportunities to mobilize financing for development in LDCs, including from domestic and international sources, aligned with strategic priorities and country commitments, keeping the most vulnerable and marginalised at the center of any intervention.
Here is what some of our UN Resident Coordinators in LDCs hope to see coming out of the Conference:
Sara Sekkenes, Resident Coordinator in the Lao People's Democratic Republic:
“The LDC5 Conference offers a unique opportunity for the Lao PDR Government to reconfirm its commitment to graduation at the highest level, and to bring together international partners to advocate for the support needed to make graduation sustainable, despite exceptionally challenging circumstances, with a debt situation worsened first by COVID-19 and now the global food, energy and finance crisis. My hope is that Lao PDR’s international partners, including the UN, will recognize the importance of LDC graduation to stay the course of the 2030 Agenda, and show how we can come together to support its implementation.”
Lila Pieters Yahia, Resident Coordinator in Mauritania:
“Despite ongoing efforts, Mauritania still faces many challenges related to human capital development and trade – from access to quality health, education and social protection services to the need of a conducive environment for foreign investment and regional integration, and of course adapting to climate change and achieving gender equality. Our expectation is the creation of tangible partnerships for the LDCs and the commitment on the urgency to establish a stimulus financial package for these countries. We would also hope to see renewed commitments on increasing foreign investments for LDCs and for LDCs to increase domestic resource mobilisation, accelerating digitalization and regional integration.”
Ozonnia Ojeilo, Resident Coordinator in Rwanda:
“The DPoA implementation represents the enhanced commitments of the LDCs, which have the ownership of and primary responsibility for their own development, and their development partners to a renewed and strengthened global partnership. LDC5 is of paramount importance to ensure DPoA mainstreaming, coordination with national development agendas as well as exploring opportunities of cooperation among LDCs themselves. Since public policies are key to reduce vulnerability and strengthening resilience against future shocks; the DPoA is our opportunity to deep-dive on insights that can guide poverty reduction strategies and partnerships in Africa. Working together is our best opportunity for charting a recovery path for the world’s most vulnerable countries. The LDC5 should result with people-centered solutions to the current global economic crisis and the ones that are yet to come.”
Ulrika Richardson, Resident Coordinator in Haiti:
"My hope is that LDC5 marks a turning point in our efforts to unleash Haiti’s potential to achieve prosperity and dignity for all. LDC5 presents a unique opportunity to build new partnerships with key stakeholders and identify innovative solutions to multidimensional challenges Haiti is facing as an LDC and a SIDS, including investment in climate action, blue economy and digital transformation."
This explainer story was produced by UNDCO. Learn more about LDC5 and the Doha Programme of Action here.