HLPF Background Note Summarizes LDC, LLDC Status, Trends and Challenges
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The note shares status and trends on LDCs and LLDCs and proposes two guiding questions for discussion at the HLPF.

Although some LDCs “have advanced significantly” in recent years, the objective of enabling half of the LDCs to achieve graduation by 2020 “will not be met”.

The note recognizes the establishment of the Technology Bank for the LDCs as achieving SDG target 17.8 and contributing to leaving no one behind.

June 2019: In advance of the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) released a background note on the ‘Perspectives of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs).’ The note provides an introduction to the topic, status and trends, and proposes two guiding questions for discussion.

The HLPF will include thematic reviews on several topics, including ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality: Perspectives of LDCs and LLDCs.’ This discussion takes place on 10 July 2019, according to the draft programme. The background note proposes two guiding questions for this discussion. First, it suggests the HLPF discuss the greatest challenges to inclusiveness and equality in LDCs and how to address them. Second, the note proposes that the HLPF consider “what needs to change in international rules and institutions to effectively support LDCs and LLDCs” and achieve increased inclusion and equality.

The note finds that some LDCs have “advanced significantly” in recent years, but cautions that the objective of enabling half of the LDCs to achieve graduation by 2020 “will not be met.” Since the inception of the LDC category in 1971, five out of 52 LDCs have graduated, and another 12 LDCs are “at different stages” of the multi-year graduation process. The note states the importance of international support to graduation and smooth transition, and calls for additional efforts to support LDC graduation.

LDCs face additional challenges in reducing poverty, with over 35% of LDC populations living in extreme poverty (SDG target 1.1); access to education (SDG target 4.1); and capacity constraints, which present challenges for enrollment in higher education. The note recommends enabling young people in LDCs to acquire quality education and necessary skills to contribute to economic development, in line with SDG targets 4.4 and 8.5. The authors caution that failure to increase the quality of education and develop a skilled workforce could “lead to an increase in inequality within and between countries.”

On technology, the note recognizes the establishment of the Technology Bank for the LDCs as achieving SDG target 17.8 and contributing to leaving no one behind. The note states that adequate funding to the Technology Bank is necessary to scale up and implement programs in all 47 LDCs.

On trade, LDCs have not doubled their share of global exports (SDG target 17.11) and LDCs “continue to be marginalized from global trade.” In addition, the note emphasizes the “special trade and development challenges” LLDCs face as a result of their lack of access to the sea. The note states that LDCs’ share of global merchandise products remains below one percent. The note recommends addressing high trade costs through diversification, development and maintenance of infrastructure development, and implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Facilitation Agreement. The note further underscores the fundamental role of energy infrastructure and technology in improving competitiveness in LLDCs and integrating them into global trade.

Additional challenges addressed in the background note include:

  • the marginalization of LDCs and LLDCs in global decision-making processes;
  • lack of access to basic services among populations in LDCs and LLDCs;
  • illicit financial flows, debt distress and other challenges related to resource flows;
  • insufficient official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries, with only five donors (Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the UK); providing 0.15% or more of their gross national income as ODA to LDCs, as called for in SDG target 17.2; and
  • “significant gaps” in LDCs’ and LLDCs’ statistical capacity and data collection, which limits policy planning and monitoring of SDG implementation.

To harness synergies between productive capacity and other sustainable development objectives, the note recommends expanding productive capacities for sustainable development in LDCs and LLDCs. The note underscores linkages between land degradation, desertification and drought with climate change, food insecurity, migration and conflict in many LDCs and LLDCs.

The 2019 HLPF convening under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is focusing on the theme, ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’ It will take place from 9-18 July 2019, in New York, US. [HLPF Background Note]

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