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The UN High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, observed that most LDCs and LLDCs are “unlikely to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030” and identified achieving SDG 1 as a critical challenge in the years to come.

The Permanent Representative of Bhutan reflected on ways international rules can help LLDCs to overcome challenges.

Malawi for the LDCs urged Member States to “redouble our efforts so that the 2030 Agenda is not a missed opportunity for us".

10 July 2019: The UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) discussed challenges to inclusiveness and equality in the least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) during a thematic review on the topic. Participants called for post-graduation support to ensure that LDCs and LLDCs are not left behind in achieving the SDGs.

The thematic review session was part of the 2019 session of the HLPF, which is taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 9-18 July, on the theme, ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’ UN Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) Vice President Mona Juul (Norway) chaired the session.

For LDCs and LLDCs, economic growth is not translating into meaningful poverty eradication.

In opening remarks, Congressman Jerry Tardieu, Haiti, said “access to credit is an obsession for LDC leaders,” especially to support small micro-enterprises and subsistence farmers. He called for ensuring inclusiveness and equality in development financing, and recognized a “need to balance economic growth and social priorities.”

The UN High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, reflected that “economic growth is not translating into meaningful poverty eradication.” She observed that most LDCs and LLDCs are “unlikely to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030” and identified achieving SDG 1 (no poverty) as a critical challenge in the years to come.

Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva, Executive Director of Oxfam Mexico, said fighting exclusion and inequality is possible and a “political choice” that can be pursued through public policies. He emphasized that some countries have already chosen to fight exclusion and inequality through policies such as taxation and social expenditures. He further recommended tackling gender inequality, highlighting the importance of focusing on working wages and promoting equality in the care economy. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development, Saad Alfarargi, said the right to development focuses on human beings as the center of development. He emphasized that the right to development must be inclusive and holistic, underscoring the importance of participatory consultative processes in development programmes and policies.

The Permanent Representative of Bhutan, Doma Tshering, who also serves as co-facilitator for the political declaration of the midterm review of the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (VPoA) for the LLDCs, said “timely implementation” of the VPoA can contribute to sustainable development. She reflected on ways international rules can help LLDCs to overcome challenges, including through: increasing resources and support to implement smooth transition strategies; increasing support to LLDCs’ efforts to diversify their export baskets and promote regional integration; promoting knowledge sharing and e-commerce readiness; strengthening resilience to vulnerabilities, including to the impacts of climate change; strengthening national statistics systems and promoting reliable and regular data collection and analysis efforts; and recognizing the role of women and girls as drivers of economic growth.

Co-Chair for the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, Richard Ssewakiryanga, said 19% of the world’s population of young people live in LDCs, and “we must do a lot more to think about how young people participate in their own development.”

Member States responded to reflections by the resource persons and lead discussants and shared their countries’ experiences. Malawi for the LDCs said, since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the global partnership is “under serious strain” and expressed concern that a new wave of digital divide could further widen the gap between LLDCs and the rest of the world. He urged Member States to “redouble our efforts so that the 2030 Agenda is not a missed opportunity for us.” Paraguay, on behalf of the LLDCs, stressed the importance of achieving the VPOA for LLDCs to achieve the SDGs. To move towards structural transformation and increase competitiveness, Paraguay called for further action to improve infrastructure; respond to major challenges, such as climate change, increase access to information and communications technology (ICT) and promote e-commerce.

On graduation, participants recognized both the opportunities and challenges of graduation. Many stressed that graduation should be people-centered. Nepal said his country has met the graduation criteria in 2015 and 2018, and aims to graduate in 2021. The country’s focus is to ensure the transition is smooth and graduation is “sustainable and irreversible,” he stressed.

Utoikamanu highlighted the importance of continued support for countries that graduate to ensure, noting that the UN continues support for countries for five years after graduation in numerous ways, including access to the Technology Bank, the UN Capital Development Fund and UN travel support. She said some additional measures of support could include centralized information on concessionary finance and capacity building to support access to finance and access to credit. Others also supported the need for solidarity with LDCs to ensure no country is left behind. Many welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank for LDCs. Ssewakiryanga recommended incorporating indigenous technologies into the LDCs Technology Bank.

In response to questions on official development assistance (ODA), the EU said it continues to be the largest provider of ODA. He reiterated its commitment to ODA, including for LDCs, and said ODA has increased to 2.7% of gross national income (GNI) since 2016, an increase of more than EUR 1 billion.

In response to a question on civil society perspectives, Fuentes-Nieva stressed civil society is “very committed to development and inclusive processes.” He suggested expanding, protecting and strengthening civil society space in LDCs and LLDCs.

Participants discussed a number of other topics, including the role of the diaspora, remittances and migration. Mali raised a concern on the role of transit countries in promoting trade for LLDCs, saying transit countries often earn revenues from these transactions and suggested identifying ways to incentive such countries to support LLDCs. Niger said some countries face security challenges that detract from their financing for development. A representative from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies “urged governments of LLDCs and LDCs to include consideration for reducing disaster risk into development plans and to link DRR to climate change adaptation.” [UN News Story] [HLPF Website] [Programme for HLPF Integration Segment] [Session Webpage] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on HLPF Background Note on LDC, LLDC Status, Trends] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources] [IISD Meeting Coverage]


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