State of the Least Developed Countries 2013 – The obstacles they face and their place in post-2015

The UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states (UN OHRLLS) has recently released a report entitled ‘State of the Least Developed Countries 2013: Follow up of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries’. With a special focus on the links between productive capacity building in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and post-2015, it looks at the obstacles faced by LDCs in achieving prosperity and stability, and urges that their cause should be prioritised in the future post-2015 agenda. Read extracts from the executive summary below.

Progress in the implementation of IPoA is mixed

Two years into the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), least developed countries (LDCs) have made some progress on many of the goals and targets agreed in Istanbul. Although the majority of LDCs grew at  a pace slower than their last- decade averages, a few continued to expand at 7 per cent or more – the target set in the  Programme of Action. These countries witnessed strong and rising investment rates, rapid urbanization, and robust  expansion of sectors other than agriculture. This development indicates that structural change also seems to be taking  hold in a few LDCs.

Yet, most LDCs continue to face pervasive poverty, serious structural impediments to growth, low levels of social and  human development and high exposure to shocks and disasters. Even those countries with improved performance started  off from low bases and have a long way to go to catch up with the levels of development of other developing countries.

Poverty continued to be stubbornly high, with almost half of LDC citizens living with less than 1.25 $ US a day. While  most LDCs have made important strides towards achieving universal primary education, progress has been modest on  secondary, vocational and technical, and tertiary education, where skills for productive and decent employment are  acquired. Also very limited headway has been made towards meeting health, water, sanitation and employment-related  goals and targets. Gender inequalities have remained high.

Physical infrastructure, including roads, railways, maritime and air infrastructure continued to be largely below  international standards. Further, generation, diffusion and application of knowledge are very limited partly because of  a narrow base of science-literate citizens.

The deteriorating global economic environment is transmitting to LDCs for example through declining ODA flows  and increasing volatility of commodity prices, therefore putting at risk hard-won gains achieved so far, and the ability  to expand these gains to all LDCs. The sum of the above is that most LDCs are expected to miss most of the MDGs.

Against the above backdrop, both LDCs and development partners, including the UN system, have intensified efforts  to mainstream the IPoA into their national development and development cooperation strategies, respectively. Likewise,  other stakeholders of the IPoA including parliaments, the private sector and civil society have been involved in various  activities related to the implementation of the IPoA.

Looking forward, the international community should give due priority to LDCs in the efforts to accelerate MDGs  and formulate the post-2015 UN Development Agenda. The LDCs have identified productive capacity building as a  high priority.”

Click here to access the full report.

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