More than 800 million people live in the 48 countries which are classified as least developed. They face extreme poverty, food insecurity, economic and environmental vulnerability. World leaders, government officials and civil society gathered this week in Istanbul, to tackle these pressing issues during the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries.
The conference, which ended today, resulted in the adoption of a 10-year action plan, the Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action, emphasizing the strengthening of the productive capacity in LDCs – building infrastructure, enhancing human capital and governance capabilities.
Affluent countries have now committed to realizing the target of spending 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent of their national incomes on official development assistance. The plan also calls for the abolition or reduction of arbitrary or unjustified trade barriers, and the opening of markets in wealthier countries to products from poorer nations.
“We have a goal oriented, substantive Programme of Action for the next decade,” said Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN Under-Secretary-General, Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Conference Secretary-General.
The declaration underscores that the ownership, leadership and primary responsibility for escaping poverty rests with the countries themselves, with good governance, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for human rights, reduced corruption and domestic resource mobilization central.
It also emphasizes, however, that those efforts must be given “concrete and substantial” international support “in a spirit of shared responsibility and mutual accountability through renewed and strengthened global partnership”.
Headed by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant-Secretary-General for Economic Development, DESA was well represented and the department also arranged a number of high-level side events during the week.
The themes for these events included “Innovative Financing: a Solution to Meet LDC’s Development Goals”; “Macroeconomic Policies for LDCs: From Economic Recovery to Sustainable Development”; “Mutual Accountability for LDC: A framework for aid quality and beyond”; and “Optimizing Support Measures for LDCs: Access, Utilization and Effectiveness”.
The last event featured the launch of the LDC Information Portal, developed by DESA and aiming at improving the capacity of LDCs to access and benefit from the special international support measures adopted by the international development community.