ESCAP has been supporting the graduation of least developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region in a number of different ways. Recently:
- Vanuatu graduated in December 2020. Following a request from the government, ESCAP and UNDESA, supported Vanuatu in the development of its smooth transition strategy (STS) and are now supporting implementation of the strategy, including on how to build productive capacity, ensure access to climate funds and mobilize south-south cooperation. In 2019 ESCAP funded a study on external financing and domestic resource mobilization in Vanuatu. See also: Workshop on Resource Mobilization for a Smooth Transition for a Smooth Transition from the LDC Category and Sustainable Development in Vanuatu (October 2019); Celebrating Vanuatu’s Path to Sustainable Development (2020)
- Solomon Islands is due to graduate from the LDC category in 2024. In 2019 ESCAP, other members of the Inter-agency Taskforce on Graduation, including UNDP, UNDESA and OHRLLS, and the UN Resident Coordinator organized a capacity-building workshop to familiarize officials with the implications of graduation and to identify the actions necessary to prepare and implement a smooth transition strategy. This work will continue in the coming years as Solomon Islands develops its transition strategy. A study is being finalized that examines how current policies facilitate structural transformation in Pacific LDCs and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the overall situation.
- Bhutan is scheduled to graduate in 2023, which will coincide with the end of the country’s 12th 5-year development plan. As part of the capacity-building support provided to Bhutan, ESCAP has focused on the formulation and implementation of a roadmap for sustainable graduation and is now assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bhutan’s sustainable graduation path. Responding to a request by the government, since December 2017 ESCAP has also provided technical assistance to the Government of Bhutan on the issuance of its first-ever sovereign bond. Technical assistance has taken place through policy advocacy, studies, workshops and study tours. In 2020, the Ministry of Finance and the Royal Monetary Authority announced the first offering of a three-year sovereign bond. This will expand the government’s fiscal management space while diversifying its debt resources by opening up a new channel for long-term public borrowing.
- For LDCs that are in the graduation pipeline but do not yet have a date set for graduation – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor-Leste – ESCAP has provided capacity-building activities such as workshops on how to enhance the capacity of Asian LDCs to implement SDGs and sustainably graduate from LDCs status. Workshops are also planned in 2021 on mobilizing resources for sustainable development.
- As part of its support, ESCAP has highlighted the importance of structural transformation for LDCs. Structural transformation is a critical element of being able to move up the value chain, to provide productive employment and to combat poverty. It is critical to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, ESCAP’s 2019 Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report focused on Structural Transformation and its Role in Reducing Poverty. More recently (December 2020) a workshop on structural transformation and LDC graduation was held, to present work on how current policies facilitate structural transformation in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar and how COVID-19 has impacted the situation.