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New assistance measures for graduating Belt and Road Least Developed Countries toward the achievement of Agenda 2030

Around 12 least developed countries (LDC) are scheduled to leave the category in coming years, more than doubling the number which have left the category in the 47 years since it was formed. Many of these potential graduates are concerned about losing access to the international support measures (ISMs) provided by the international community. After graduation, in some cases after a transition period, countries stand to face reduced support or forego access to support measures in trade, official development assistance and other areas such as travel support and reduced budgetary contributions to the UN. The loss of these benefits disincentives graduating LDCs, most of which are along the Belt and Road, from leaving the category, a process which is not automatic but is ultimately the sovereign decision of governments. The drop-off in international support also risks stalling development progress after graduation. LDC graduation and assistance for LDCs are mentioned in ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ approximately 44 times, particularly with a view to ‘leaving no-one behind’. Support for LDCs after they leave the category is an important way of helping these countries meet the SDGs by 2030. The project will work with the governments of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor Leste, as well as international specialists and UN entities, to develop a set of proposals for post-graduation assistance. Some of these will be specific to the country concerned, and some generic – ie. applicable across the board. The proposals will partly aim at mitigating the potential impact of forfeiting existing ISMs – such as the loss of duty-free, quota-free market access under the European Everything But Arms Initiative – and will partly take the form of fresh measures to assist with the new development landscape following graduation, such as new infrastructure investment to support trade diversification. The key beneficiaries are thus the populations of these countries, totaling some 269 million people, intermediate through the Ministries of Planning, Trade, the Central Banks and private sector institutions. These will also be the prime entities involved with implementation in each country, alongside teams of national and international consultants overseen by UN DESA staff. The project will first result in a concrete list, for each country, of new proposed assistance mechanisms for the post-graduation landscape. Communications and advocacy measures built into the project will aim at incorporating these mechanisms into international processes such as the forthcoming new Programme of Action for LDCs to be launched after 2020, and ideally some of the measures will be adopted by donors and trading partners. They will also be incorporated into government planning. Secondly, beyond the development and publicity of these measures, the project will strengthen policy
frameworks and institutions for the adoption and use of selected assistance mechanisms in target countries. Analysis and recommendations will be developed and published in an in-depth analytical study. Subject to government priorities and ratification, they will be included in the government planning documents of target countries, supported by development partners, and implemented with a view to enhancing sustainable development in the post-graduation era. An anticipated secondary outcome will be to
incentivize the next graduating LDCs to leave the category, given new assurances of support.

Municipal asset management for sustainable development in selected Least Developed Countries in Africa and Asia

The project aims to address the lack of systematic and long-term asset management at the municipal level in the four least developed countries (LDCs). The ultimate objective of improving municipal asset management is to help municipalities meet a required level of basic services, in the most cost-effective manner, through the management of physical assets (land, buildings, infrastructure) for present and future customers.  This objective is accomplished through enhanced lifecycle asset management and portfolio asset management.  Lifecycle asset management encompasses all practices associated with physical infrastructure and property so that decisions are made based on the lowest long-term cost rather than short-term savings.  Portfolio management involves managing groups of assets to maximize value and investment for the entire portfolio of assets rather than individual or single groups of assets.

The project will follow a four-pronged strategy, consisting of (i) helping target countries assess the needs of their municipalities in asset management by training central government officials in the application of a diagnostic tool to review municipal assets in a holistic and integrated way and identifying critical areas for improvements; (ii) training municipal officials in the formulation and implementation of customized asset management action plans (AMAPs) that can be effectively linked to a medium-term budget and a long-term sustainable development strategy; (iii) increasing the dialogue among different stakeholders, in particular between central government agencies and municipal authorities to better understand the impact of existing policies, laws and regulations on municipal asset management and explore areas of reform and improvement; and (iv) sharing lessons learned and general policy recommendations with other LDCs. Accordingly, the project should result in the creation and implementation of AMAPs in the target countries in support of sustainable development, as well as a comprehensive publication of policy lessons that provides general guidance to other municipal governments in LDCs. Municipal governments in target countries (no more than 3 per country) will be chosen in consultation with the cooperating entities and national governments to ensure the project can leverage existing work of partner agencies and fits well into national sustainable development strategies. To make sure the proposed AMAPs will be implemented and lead to concrete actions on the ground, specific attention will be paid to ensuring that the sequencing of recommended actions is tailored to the municipal context; existing skills and technologies are considered and municipal ownership is ensured.

Strengthening geospatial information management in developing countries towards implementing the 2030 Agenda

The project focuses on improving and strengthening the national geospatial information management capacities of developing countries in two beneficiary regions, namely, Africa and Asia and the Pacific, towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and evidence-based policy and decision-making. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that timely and accessible geospatial information and statistics, and their combined analyses, are a prerequisite for good policy-making and supporting and tracking development progress. However, there is still a lack of awareness, understanding and uptake of the vital and integrative role of geospatial information within national circumstances, particularly in developing countries. The project supports identified countries in the beneficiary regions to develop and strengthen their national technical capacities and mechanisms through the provision of frameworks and guides that recognize national circumstances through regional or sub-regional activities for: (a) the application of geospatial information to augment national statistical systems and inform the global indicator framework; (b) improving the integration of statistical and geospatial information through implementing the principles of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework; and (c) improving data sharing and dissemination through appropriate consideration of legal and policy frameworks and guidelines. The project contributes towards improving the timeliness, availability and accessibility of geospatial information at all levels by national geospatial information authorities, thus improving and strengthening national geospatial information management and systems.

Strengthening of capacities of developing countries to provide Access to Information for Sustainable Development through Open Government Data

The objective of the project is to demonstrate the potential and benefits of using Open Government Data (OGD) in advancing transparency, accountability and sustainable development in selected countries of Latin America and East Asia regions, currently identified to be Bangladesh, Nepal, Panama, and Uruguay.
In partnership with the national counterparts , the project aims at developing a strategy for open data, particularly in thematic areas relevant to the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including MDGs. Primarily, the government expenditure and budgeting data, environmental data, procurement data, demographic data, socio-economic indicators, healthcare data, geographical data and local transportation data.
The project aims at assisting with the development of a policy framework and technical infrastructure for implementation of OGD initiatives. It will strive at strengthening the open data community within selected countries. The target beneficiaries include, but are not limited to government officials responsible for data coordination in the country such as Chief Information Officers (or equivalent), Information Privacy Commissioners, Procurement Divisions and relevant government officials from ministries and governmental institutions responsible for selected policies (e.g. Ministries of Planning). Indirect beneficiaries include citizens and communities at large.
The project will also stimulate a south-south knowledge transfer and cross-fertilization of OGD by bringing together OGD-beginners with more OGD-advanced countries.International workshops, online training courses, and availability of workshop reports will increase the outreach of the project on a global scale, particularly for countries in regions most in need of such support.

Strategies for mitigating the impact of graduation from the least developed countries category

The least developed countries (LDCs) represent the poorest and weakest segment of the international community, with limited human and institutional capacities, high levels of poverty, scarcity of financial resources, and often undiversified economies dominated by the agricultural or natural resource sectors. LDCs benefit from a range of international support measures (ISMs), and LDCs in the process of graduation often poorly understand the potential impacts of graduation in terms of reduction of access to ISMs. This project will support three target countries: Bhutan, Nepal and Uganda; to collect data and information on available ISMs and the degree to which they are used in different sectors, and to use this information in impact assessment and evidence-based policies. In addition, the project will support these countries to identify key productive sectors where ISMs and national policies could have the greatest impact to support smooth transition, and will work with national stakeholders to develop national reports and recommendations that target countries may adopt to develop elements of smooth transition strategies themselves. The project will work not only with government stakeholders but also, importantly, with chambers of commerce and/or sector associations in each country, given their important role in providing information and advice to the private sector, and obtaining information from the private sector regarding real-life issues, barriers and constraints. Finally, the project will work closely with UN and bilateral development partners in each country, to develop links with their future support to the target LDCs and promote sustainability.

Enhancing the capacity of governments and indigenous leaders to ensure social integration and inclusive development in selected countries in Africa and Asia

The project aims at enhancing the capacity of the target groups in selected countries in Africa and Asia to engage in constructive policy dialogues and/or participatory mechanisms with a view to develop strategies and initiatives to improve their well-being and economic and social status, including through the promotion of social integration and inclusive development. The formulation, implementation and evaluation of the project respond to the principles upheld in the UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous Peoples and other related instruments, both international and regional. Thorough capacity building of both national and local governments and indigenous leaders, especially indigenous women and youth, the project aims to promote the participation of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes at national, regional and local levels, towards more inclusive development that is responsive to their needs and priorities. The project also intends to enhance the capacity of governments to develop policies, programmes and legislation that recognize and respect indigenous peoples’ development rights and priorities and that include their full and effective participation in national socio-economic development policies. This will advance greater cooperation, national cohesion, and improve relationships between indigenous peoples and governments while also reducing tensions and misconceptions. The project will establish new consultative mechanisms, and/or strengthen existing ones where applicable, such as participatory policy dialogues, between the government representatives and representatives of indigenous peoples utilizing mediation, consensus building, constructive dialogue, participatory and inclusive development planning. The ultimate beneficiaries of the project are the indigenous peoples in the countries participating in the project.