19 November 2019
UN Issues Roadmap to Fifth Conference on LDCs
Photo by IISD/ENB
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The Fifth UN Conference on LDCs is expected to take place in Doha, Qatar, in March 2021.

UNLDC-V pre-conference events started with the 8th Ministerial Conference of the LDCs in November 2019, which resulted in the adoption of the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration.

Other preparatory events and processes are planned at the national, regional and global levels, as outlined on the UNLDC-V conference webpage hosted by OHRLLS.

A roadmap of preparations has been issued ahead of the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries. The Conference, convening in Doha, Qatar, in March 2021, is expected to adopt a new LDC programme of action to succeed the Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2011-2020 (IPoA). The Conference will also mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the LDC category.

The overarching goal of the IPoA is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the LDCs in order to eradicate poverty and achieve internationally agreed development goals. The Istanbul Declaration and the IPoA were adopted during the Fourth UN Conference on LDCs (UNLDC-IV), which convened in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2011. They were endorsed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in June 2011. Five years later, a Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the Implementation of the IPoA took place in Antalya, Turkey, in May 2016.

In December 2018, the UNGA decided to convene UNLDC-V in 2021 (A/RES/73/242). The Conference is expected to make a comprehensive appraisal of the IPoA and agree on a strengthened partnership framework in support of the poorest and most vulnerable countries. 

The UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, the Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) serves as the focal point for its preparations, and has issued a webpage that outlines conference preparation plans and a roadmap. UNLDC-V pre-conference events began with the 8th Ministerial Conference of the LDCs, which took place on 2 November 2019, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with the participation of ministers of industry, economy, trade and commerce. The conference focused on the theme ‘Accelerating Industrialization in LDCs: Lessons Learned and Innovative Approaches’ and was organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with OHRLLS. Delegates discussed progress made on structural economic transformation and the next programme of action beyond 2020, among other topics. The conference resulted in the adoption of the Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration. Per the declaration, the participating ministers commit to gain from the lessons learned and replicate best practices from the IPoA, and from the first five years for SDGs implementation in LDCs and other countries. They further request the international community to come together for the successful organization of the UNLDC-V and for the preparation of a “strong and action-oriented” outcome document and plan of action.

Among other preparations, LDCs are expected to report on their progress in implementing the IPoA through national reports that should feed into the regional reviews and the new programme of action. At the regional level, preparatory review meetings are being planned in Africa and in the Asia-Pacific region for the first half of 2020.

At the global level, intergovernmental preparatory committee sessions are expected to take place in September 2020 and January 2021, and consultative meetings for the Ambassadors of LDCs and Friends of LDCs in New York will aim to build consensus on the new priorities. UN inter-agency meetings will serve to coordinate the contributions of the UN System. 

As an additional input to UNLDC-V, an academic conference on ‘Achieving Sustainable Development in the Least Developed Countries: Towards LDC-V will convene in Helsinki, Finland on 15-16 October 2020, organized by OHRLLS, UNU-WIDER and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and financially supported by Finland. The objective is to identify policy recommendations that will significantly impact the extent to which LDCs can meet the SDGs, effectively compete in the global economy and “eventually move towards convergence with other more developed economies.” The organizers have issued a call for papers targeting senior and junior academics as well as experts from international organizations and NGOs. Contributions should be submitted online by 18 December 2019. [OHRLLS Webpage on UNLDC-V]

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