Vanuatu graduates from list of least developed countries

4 December 2020

The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu has graduated from the official list of Least Developed Countries (LDC), becoming the sixth country to achieve the milestone since the development categorization was created in 1971. 

The graduation is “testimony to years of effort resulting in hard-won sustainable development gains,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message

Vanuatu graduated despite severe setbacks due to accelerating climate change, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit remittances flowing back home hard, and the trade and  tourism sector. 

The country has prepared a transition strategy, which will help navigate the next steps in its development path. 

The journey to graduation 

Vanuatu was recommended for graduation from the LDC category by the UN Committee for Development Policy in 2012, having met the graduation thresholds for the Human Assets Index and income in 2006, 2009 and 2012.  

The recommendation was approved by the Economic and Social Council in 2012 and by the General Assembly in 2013. The country was granted an extension in 2015, following the severe devastation caused by Cyclone Pam, and the graduation was postponed to 4 December 2020. 

Challenges remain 

While the move reflects the “significant improvements” in development indicators, Vanuatu remains highly vulnerable to external shocks as well as the fact that it is a small island State, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). 

“As we focus on building back better, ESCAP stands ready and committed to continue to support Vanuatu in its development aspirations and in implementing the smooth transition strategy,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, ESCAP Executive Secretary. 

The LDC category 

Least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets. 

Given their special circumstances, LDCs have exclusive access to certain international support measures such as in the areas of development assistance and trade. 

 

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