A United Nations-backed meeting focusing on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) of Asia and the Pacific kicked off today as international delegates, UN officials and Government ministers embarked on discussions over how to help the region’s poorest nations “graduate” to a higher level of development.
The three-day meeting – held in Kathmandu, Nepal and coordinated by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) as well as the UN Development Programme – has brought regional and international stakeholders together to consider which steps may ensure the LDCs “smooth graduation” up the development ladder.
“The path towards graduation should not be an end in itself but should be viewed as a launching pad towards meaningful and transformative changes in the economic structures and the life conditions of people in graduated and graduating LDCs,” the UN Under Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Gyan Chandra Acharya, told delegates in his opening statement.
“For this reason, the sustainable graduation agenda needs to be tied up with that of productive capacity development, structural transformation resilience building and sustainable improvement in human and social capital.”
Some of the practices being considered by delegates include enhancing investment in the productive sector, upgrading technologies and increasing protection from external shocks, such as climate related events, economic crises and natural disasters, a UN-OHRLLS press release explained.
Forty-eight countries are currently designated by the United Nations as LDCs and, between 1971 and 2011, only 3 of them – Botswana, Cape Verde, and the Maldives – have graduated from the LDC category.
UN-OHRLLS noted, however, that recent economic and social indicators have allowed a number of LDCs to reach the “threshold of graduation” with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic announcing timelines for their graduation.
LDCs represent the poorest and weakest members of the international community, comprising more than 880 million people while accounting for less than 2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Fighting poverty in the LDCs is a key component towards reaching the UN’s landmark 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).