The UN General Assembly has extended Vanuatu’s preparatory period before LDC graduation by three years, until 4 December 2020.
The country joined the LDC category in 1985, and has achieved significant progress in income and human assets. At the 2012 triennial review, per capita income was $2,540, exceeding the graduation threshold of $1,190, and the human asset index reached 77.7, much higher than the graduation threshold of 66. Based on these findings, the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) recommended that the country graduates from the LDC category, a recommendation which was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. In December 2013 the UN General Assembly took note of the recommendation and decided that the country would graduate in December 2017 after a four-year transition period.
In March 2015, Vanuatu suffered unprecedented human and material losses as a result of Cyclone Pam, and the economic and social progress of the country was severely disrupted. According to the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by Government of Vanuatu with the support of UN and other development partners, an estimated 65,000 people (a quarter of the population) were displaced from their homes. Approximately 17,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Crops were destroyed on a large scale and the livelihoods of at least 80 per cent of the country’s rural population were compromised.
The total economic value of the effects caused by Cyclone was estimated to be around US$450 million which is equivalent to about 65 per cent of the GDP in the previous year. The largest economic loss is expected to be in agriculture and tourism. In addition, environmental damage was significant, although these losses are difficult to measure quantitatively. Losses to productive capacity and the associated higher costs of production will be long-lasting, and thus the negative impact of the disaster on overall economic and social conditions will be felt for several years to come.