With the kick-off of the United Nations post-2015 sustainable development agenda fast approaching, ministers and senior Government officials from across the globe have gathered in Cotonou, Benin, today to discuss how to strengthen the world’s 48 least developed countries to produce more goods and trade in international markets more efficiently.
“The conference is an invaluable opportunity for Governments, the United Nations, private sector and civil society to come together to strengthen and expand multi-stakeholder efforts towards significant and robust partnerships,” said UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
In a press release from his Office, Gyan Chandra Acharya added that traditional development partners, emerging countries in the global South, and the LDCs themselves have a shared responsibility to do more to ensure that partnerships are transformative.
The four-day Ministerial Conference on New Partnerships for Productive Capacity Building in the Least Developed Countries, will identify innovative methods to improve the productive capacity of LDCs – a key priority of the 2011 Istanbul Programme of Action, which charts out the international community’s vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the next decade.
Focusing on policy framework and institutions, the development of value chains, infrastructure and access to energy and international support measures, the Benin meeting will also focus on appropriate means of implementation including through addressing cross-cutting issues namely gender and women empowerment, employment and sustainable development.
Increasing productive capacities in the LDCs is a defining challenge and an opportunity to eradicate poverty and achieve and sustainable development in the decade to come.
“Development partners should be encouraged to do more by channelling aid to support productive capacity building in the LDCs, leveraging aid to encourage investment flows and facilitating trade and promoting technology transfer in a coherent manner,” Mr. Acharya said.
In addition to focusing on development partners, the meeting will make policy recommendations on official development assistance (ODA), South-South cooperation, remittance earnings, and domestic resource mobilization. These suggestions are expected to contribute to discussions on the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs).
As it stands, the majority of LDCs will not meet most of the Millennium Development Goals by 201, according to a UN-OHRLLS report published last September. The survey cautioned that most of those countries continued to face structural challenges, as well as the destructive impact of climate change. The report did have some good news, however, namely that after years of economic stagnation, the LDCs are now achieving progress with some signs of structural transformation.
Also speaking ahead of the meeting, the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, called for sustained, inclusive and people-centred development in the LDCs.
The key for LDCs is to “diversify into new, sustainable, job-rich, productive sectors so as to transform the structure of their economies, while building an environment in which development gains are broadly shared,” he said.