‘Vigorous’ global attention can lift poorest countries out of poverty – UN envoy

Economic and Social Council in session

20 July 2005 – Development indicators in the world’s 50 poorest countries are so low that unless the international community acts quickly and vigorously to help them reverse their plight, it is unlikely that the primary goals on the United Nations global development agenda can be achieved, a senior UN envoy has warned.

“We should not forget for a moment…that 43 per cent of the people in least developed countries (LDCs) continue to live in extreme poverty – on less than a dollar a day,” Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chowdhury said yesterday as he introduced the third progress report on implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, 2001-2010, to the 2005 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

“If current trends continue, the number of people living in extreme poverty in least developed countries will increase from 334 million people in 2000 to 471 million in 2015, the end year for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Mr. Chowdhury, who is the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

The MDGs comprise a set of ambitious development targets agreed by world leaders in 2000, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

Despite the constraints facing the least developed countries, Mr. Chowdhury highlighted several positive and encouraging signs, including the significant increase in the official development assistance (ODA) allocated the LDCs in 2004, which jumped 25 per cent from the previous year, and the decision by the Group of Eight (G8) industrial powers at their recent summit to focus special attention on boosting aid to and improving livelihoods in Africa, which hosts 34 of the 50 most impoverished countries in the world.

Mr. Chowdhury stressed that there were three major obstacles to implementation of the Brussels Programme – country ownership, lack of human, institutional and technical capacity and domestic and external financial resources.

To address these effectively, the report recommends all LDC governments, in partnership with civil society and the private sector and with assistance from the UN Resident Coordinators, develop national development strategies that articulate their priorities and make progress towards achieving the goals and objectives of the Programme.

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