Draft Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries is approved

On 21 December 2021 the Preparatory Committee approved the draft Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries and decided to recommend it to the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries for adoption.

Below are the remarks delivered by the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Courtenay Rattary, welcoming the adoption of the draft Programme.

Distinguished Delegates,

We now have an approved new Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. I said when I became the High Representative in July that we should not go to Doha with an open text, and I am glad this was achieved.

This was not an easy process.

I would like to commend the co-chairs, Ambassador Fatima and Ambassador Rae, for so ably steering this process to a good conclusion. I know they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  I am also aware that the LDCs had to accept considerable reductions to the ambitions that were set out in the Zero Draft.

There is a saying by Confucious that it is better to have a diamond with a flaw, than a pebble without.

Overall, I am confident that the Doha Programme of Action can help ensure that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development works in, and for, the LDCs.

It is a symbol of solidarity with the world’s poorest people. Now the hard work begins to turn symbolism into action. We must focus on implementation and the concrete deliverables that will ensure the world’s ambitions for the LDCs are met. These last two years have shown us in glorious technicolour, that this is no time for global solidarity to go on a holiday. And that’s why I talk about LDC5 not as a moment – but the start of a movement. A movement for genuine and lasting change.

The financing needs of LDCs have been growing, not least due to COVID. There are a number of longstanding challenges that must be overcome for the LDCs to have a fair chance of advance. How can these countries gain easier access to finance for development, from concessional and private sources? How can they use financial support more effectively in the future? And how to fill the widening financing gaps in the LDCs?

Let’s start by implementing our long-standing commitments now.

We also need to ensure the world’s most vulnerable countries are finally able to access requisite amounts of Special Drawing Rights and have their debt burdens significantly reduced. LDCs also need enhanced market access, this is true! But that alone won’t suffice. These countries also need more aid for trade and investment support.


Not only is the world not keeping pace with its promises to the LDCs, I am not sure that any of us can be really confident that the international community’s support for LDCs is keeping pace with technology? Everything from farming methods, digital connectivity and vaccine production requires more technological support in the coming years.

That goes hand in hand with the need for more STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in their countries. An online university would be an important step, but even an online university needs a path to its front door. And that path is comprehensive, free early education for all and improved adult training. Especially for girls and women. At LDC5 we will hear the voices of young people loud and clear. They deserve the opportunities to take their fate into their own hands. To find decent jobs or start their own business.

When young people tell us about the kind of world they want to inherit, it is our duty to listen – and act. People in LDCs are affected by climate change in every aspect of their lives.

Droughts reduce agricultural yields. Floods sweep away houses and roads. Hydro dams have water levels too low to produce electricity. This is why building resilience is one of the main themes of the new Doha Programme of Action. From addressing climate vulnerabilities, to dealing with food shortages and commodity price fluctuations to improved social safety.

Most immediately, LDCs need urgent action to vaccinate their populations. There has been progress lately but the average proportion of persons with 2 doses is still around 10%. And yet, instead of heeding the UN’s call to vaccinate these 1.1 billion people, the world’s most vulnerable nations are being met with punishing restrictions and travel bans. This is the greatest test for the international community today. If we fail on this, future generations will rightly judge us.

On covid, on climate, and on the crisis of debt – the time to act is now. So we can create a lasting impact for families, on the farms, and in the factories of the world’s most vulnerable countries. We want world leaders to commit to bold action in support of these countries. Our joint goal is for a better future for everyone in the LDCs. And we can get there.

Most of you have heard that I will leave OHRLLS after some of the most rewarding months of my working life. And although I may be leaving the Office, I shall not be leaving behind the LDCs, or the urgency of their situation. The challenges facing these countries will remain a passion and a priority for me every single day.

I want to thank you all for your support on the road to Doha. The LDCs count on your support on the road that follows.

Thank you.