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Source: Small Island Developing States

25 March 2019: The UN Secretary-General has released a report on progress in implementing the UN’s programme of action for the least developed countries (LDCs) for the decade 2011-2020, also known as the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). The report also provides information on preparations for the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs, which will take place in 2021.

The report titled, ‘Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011–2020,’ discusses progress in the implementation of key priorities of the Programme, namely: productive capacity; agriculture, food security and rural development; trade; commodities; human and social development; multiple crises and other emerging challenges; mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity-building; and good governance at all levels. It also includes sections on stakeholder engagement in the implementation of the IPoA, and provides recommendations to accelerate progress towards achieving the goals and targets of the IPoA and build synergies with the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The report indicates that “notable progress” has been made in the implementation of the IPoA in several priority areas, including that: five countries will graduate by the end of 2024, the same number that has graduated to date since the creation of the category in 1971; “important advances” have been made on access to information and communications technology (ICT), sustainable energy, health, education, gender, export concentration and governance; and on average, economic growth has accelerated slightly over the past year, although it has been uneven across LDCs, international trade has rebounded, and official development assistance (ODA) has increased.

The report also outlines areas where efforts should be accelerated, noting that only one and a half years remain before the end of the Programme. It states that the share of exports from LDCs in world trade remains low, structural transformation and productive capacity gains have been slow, economies are still largely commodity-based, and growth in the rate of undernourishment in the LDCs is a concern.

Among its recommendations, the report notes the need to encourage large-scale investment to build resilient infrastructure and to adopt new technologies, including through public-private partnerships (PPPs) and financing from multilateral development banks (MDBs). It calls on the international community to pursue urgent action to reduce infant, under-five and maternal mortality rates, and to assist LDCs in making meaningful progress towards the implementation of all targets of SDG 3 (good health and well-being).

The report suggests that LDCs pursue tax reforms to increase resource mobilization and increase their efforts in the area of international tax cooperation. It calls on development partners to further increase the quantity and quality of official developmet assistance (ODA) and strengthen South-South cooperation, and on the international community to consider debt relief and flexible debt service obligations. The report also calls on development partners to provide enhanced support to LDCs to ensure smooth transition measures and avoid disruption to development plans, programmes and projects.

The report says building resilience remains a high priority, and recommends that all stakeholders step up their efforts to implement the Sendai Framework in LDCs, including the target to substantially increase the number of countries with national and local DRR strategies by 2020.

LDCs and development partners will conduct a comprehensive appraisal of the IPoA’s implementation in preparation for the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs in 2021. This appraisal is mandated by UNGA resolution 73/242 of 20 December 2018, which calls on the Conference to reaffirm the global commitment to addressing the special needs of LDCs, and mobilize additional international support measures and action, in addition to domestic resources. Also by that resolution, the UNGA decides to: convene an intergovernmental preparatory committee for the Conference towards the end of 2020 or early 2021; take a decision on the Conference’s organizational aspects, date and venue at UNGA 74; and hold two regional preparatory meetings prior to the intergovernmental preparatory committee, one in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and one in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

As noted on the website of OHRLLS, which serves as the focal point for Conference preparations, African Ministers have requested UNECA, in collaboration with OHRLLS, to organize an African Regional Review Meeting in 2020 in preparation for the Conference.

At the global level, OHRLLS indicates that it will organize consultative meetings for the Ambassadors of LDCs and Friends of LDCs in New York to find consensus on the new priorities, as well as organize UN inter-agency meetings to prepare for the Conference. It adds that UN agencies and partner countries will organize pre-Conference events on areas that are particularly important for LDCs to undertake thematic appraisals and outline possible strategies to make further progress. [Publication: Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020: Report of the Secretary-General] [OHRLLS Webpage on Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs]

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