As multiple crises swirl around the globe, a United Nations summit will hear this week how the hard-won development gains of the twelve Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Asia and the Pacific are under threat and require immediate international attention.
Senior officials will meet in Geneva from 30 August – 2 September to discuss how the international community can support them after the shock of pandemic-related collapses in commodity prices, foreign direct investment and tourism.
Hosted virtually by the Government of Bangladesh, the meeting brings together LDCs from Asia and the Pacific, development partner countries, the United Nations and other international and regional institutions and civil society for four days of meetings and thematic discussions.
Topics under discussion will range from overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and tackling the climate crisis to the graduation of many of the Asia-Pacific nations from their status of Least Developed Country. With ten of twelve Asia-Pacific LDCs on the path to graduation, smooth transition out of the category is a core concern for governments of the region.
“Transformative development is on the horizon but strong support to realise it is urgently needed,” said Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. “For LDCs on the path to graduation such as Bangladesh, the commitment to recover and Build Back Better along a sustainable graduation path is unwavering.
Least Developed Countries to face challenges
LDCs and their international partners must collaborate to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle the climate crisis, but also provide specific supports for LDCs to graduate smoothly out of the Least Developed category.”
Co-organized by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the meeting will discuss how the world’s LDCs must face the challenge of delivering their development goals by 2030.
But given the major financial, economic and social disruptions triggered by COVID-19 and climate change, the impact of these crises has been profound.
“Despite major challenges, the Least Developed Countries of the Asia-Pacific region have made remarkable progress with a clear majority on the path to graduate from the LDC category,” said Courtenay Rattray, United Nations High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
He continued, “In the years prior to the pandemic, they reduced poverty and invested in social programmes and education, and in their infrastructure. Now we must rally to ensure these investments are protected.”
Fifth United Nations Conference
The Geneva meeting is a preparatory session on the road to LDC5, the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), taking place in Doha, Qatar, from 23 to 27 January 2022. At that meeting, heads of state and government will be convened by the United Nations Secretary General to agree and ambitious decade-long action plan to ensure the Least Developed Countries are supported to recover and flourish in the midst of deep uncertainty.
“The last decade has taught us a lot about the vulnerability of Asia-Pacific’s Least Developed Countries,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “We need to be more integrated and ambitious in our efforts to increase economic diversification and structural transformation and reduce vulnerability to external shocks and disasters.
This meeting – and the wider LDC5 process – is a vital effort to get the needs of Asia-Pacific’s LDCs higher up on the global agenda.”
Asia-Pacific Regional Review
The 12 Least Developed Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Yemen.
The outcome of the Asia-Pacific Regional Review meeting will be a ministerial declaration negotiated by the Asia-Pacific LDCs. The outcome is expected to outline the expected components of a renewed partnership or sustainable development between the LDCs and their development partners.
The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries will take place in Doha, Qatar, from 23 to 27 January 2022. The conference will assess progress made towards the Istanbul Programme of Action by the LDCs and their development partners as well as mobilising additional international support for the LDCs. The conference is also expected to agree on a renewed partnership for development between the LDCs and their development partners and relevant stakeholders including the private sector and civil society.