UNCTAD Report Assesses LDC Progress Towards SDGs
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An UNCTAD report suggests that LDCs will not reach the SDGs unless action is taken, including speeding up wholesale restructuring of their economies.

The report discusses: the performance of LDCs in terms of broad macroeconomic trends and inclusive growth, and their implications for industrialization and structural transformation; key trade-related issues and balance of payment vulnerabilities; the mobilization of development finance, through different sources; and LDCs’ outlook for the near-term future.

8 February 2018: A report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) suggests that the least developed countries (LDCs) will not reach the SDGs unless key action is taken, including speeding up wholesale restructuring of their economies. The report assesses LDCs’ economic trends and progress towards selected SDG targets and indicators.

Only five LDCs reached the SDG 8.1 ambition of sustaining at least 7% GDP growth per annum in 2017.

The 2018 report titled, ‘Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the Least Developed Countries,’ was presented to UNCTAD Member States at a meeting of its governing body in Geneva, Switzerland, on 5 February 2018. The assessment finds that LDCs economic growth averaged 5% in 2017, and should reach 5.4% in 2018, which is below SDG target 8.1 on sustaining at least 7% GDP growth per annum in the LDCs. According to the report, in 2017, only five LDCs achieved this target: Bangladesh (7.1% GDP growth), Djibouti (7.0% GDP growth), Ethiopia (8.5% GDP growth), Myanmar (7.2% GDP growth) and Nepal (7.5% GDP growth).

The report shows that aid to LDCs remains far below the target of 0.15-0.20% of donor countries’ official development assistance (ODA)/gross national income (GNI), a level that was agreed in 1981 and reaffirmed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development in 2015. It notes that in 2016, only a handful of donor countries appear to have met these commitments: Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the UK provided over 0.20% of their own GNI to LDCs, while the Netherlands met the 0.15% threshold.

The report also shows that aid tends to be skewed towards a relatively small pool of LDCs, with the top ten recipients accounting for roughly half of total disbursements to the group. The top recipients are often the countries most affected by humanitarian emergencies and conflict, the authors find.

The assessment indicates that levels of external indebtedness have been surging across LDCs, and in 2016, remittances accounted for as much as 31% of GDP in Nepal, 29% in Haiti, 26% in Liberia, 22% in the Gambia, 21% in the Comoros, 15% in Lesotho, and they exceeded 10% of GDP in Senegal, Yemen and Tuvalu. It also finds that many LDCs fall short of the inclusive and sustainable industrialization envisaged in SDG target 9.2 (Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in LDCs).

Comprehensive and updated economic and social statistical data on the LDCs can be accessed in UNCTAD’s ‘Statistical Tables on the Least Developed Countries – 2017.’ [Publication: Selected Sustainable Development Trends in The Least Developed Countries] [UNCTAD Press Release on Report] [UN Press Release on Report] [UNCTAD’s Statistical Tables on the Least Developed Countries 2017]

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