|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Launch of Least Developed Countries Report 2013
Governments on the United Nations-identified list of 49 least developed countries should intensify efforts to bridge the widening gap between economic growth and unemployment, a senior official from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Launching the Least Developed Countries Report 2013, entitled “Growth with employment for inclusive and sustainable development”, Mussie Delelegn, Officer-in-Charge at UNCTAD’s New York office, said it examines the link between investment, growth and employment and how those factors could enable achievement of those countries’ most urgent and pivotal goals in poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development.
He said that, despite fast economic growth since 2000, employment generation in the least developed countries had been “disappointing”; they had lagged behind in both “quantity and quality jobs”. Demographic patterns, persistent poverty, accelerated urbanization and rising inequalities made remunerative employment difficult and created social and political tensions.
Job creation, he stressed, should be “the front and centre” of those countries’ development policies and strategies, as a means of achieving poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development. Those countries should build their productive capacities, which were preconditions for generating quality jobs. Macroeconomic, industrial, rural and infrastructural policies should also be geared towards employment generation and productive capacity development.
He also called on those Governments to redouble efforts to increase investment in education and training, including technical and vocational, as well as youth employment, and added that the post-2015 development agenda should provide both a new momentum and means to enable such progress.
Responding to a series of questions, Mr. Delelegn said that the least developed countries faced stark demographic challenges, and noted that in 2011, some 858 million people, or 12 per cent of the world’s population, lived in those 49 nations. Their population growth rate of 2.3 per cent was the highest in the world, with 60 per cent of the population under 25 years projected to reach 1.7 billion in 2050. The youth population aged 15 to 24 years was expected to soar from 168 million in 2010 to 300 million by 2050.
He drew attention to the high fertility rates in the least developed countries — at 4.4 children per woman. Not only was population increase the problem, but so was rapid urbanization, which he described as a “constant phenomenon” of those economies. That trend called for a paradigm shift in development policies and strategies in the least developed countries.
Concerning agriculture, he said that although the sector was a source of employment and livelihood in least developed countries, it was diminishing over time, with more and more people seeking jobs outside the agricultural sector, leading to rural-to-urban migration.
As a solution, he suggested that Governments make agriculture central to their economies to boost job creation for both unskilled and skilled workers. Given the relatively weak private sector in many least developed nations, he encouraged Governments to invest in policies and programmes that would attract private-sector participation and enhance peoples’ living conditions.
* *** *For information media • not an official record