14 October 2019
UN Prepares for New LDC Programme of Action, Fifth LDC Conference
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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During the 2019 Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Least Developed Countries, officials adopted a Ministerial Declaration that welcomes the offer of the Government of Qatar to host the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs in Doha “at the highest possible level,” in 2021 for a duration of five working days.

The UNGA President indicated that “a new program of action” for the LDCs will coincide with the "decade of implementation for the SDGs".

The Ministerial Declaration notes that most countries that have graduated from the LDC category remain far below the benchmarks set by the SDG indicators.

26 September 2019: Ministers and other high-level officials from the least developed countries (LDCs) adopted a declaration noting significant gaps between the goals and targets set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2011-2020 (IPOA), and achievements made to date. The declaration also welcomes the offer of the Government of Qatar to host the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs (UNLDC-V) in Doha, to be held “at the highest possible level” for five days in 2021.

During the 2019 Annual Ministerial Meeting of the LDCs, ministers and heads of delegation discussed strategic guidance for the “full, effective and timely” implementation of the Istanbul Declaration and the IPoA, and welcomed the UN Secretary-General’s report on IPoA implementation.

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, which convened in Istanbul, Turkey, in May 2011, and then endorsed by the UN General Assembly 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.

The 2019 Annual Ministerial Meeting of the LDCs took place on 26 September 2019, on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) high-level week, convened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malawi as Chair of the LDC Group. It was attended by over 40 ministers from LDCs and their development partners.

A new ten-year programme of action will be adopted at the Fifth LDC Conference in 2021.

During the meeting, UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande remarked that while “there is just one year left” in the IPoA, significant gaps persist. He called on the international community to strengthen support from all sources, including official development assistance (ODA), and indicated that “a new programme of action” will coincide with the “decade of implementation for the SDGs.” Covering the ten-year period beyond 2021, this new LDC programme of action will be adopted during UNLDC-V in 2021.

The ministerial declaration of the LDCs adopted during the meeting includes various items related to the UNLDC-V. By the text, the ministers:

  • welcome UNGA and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resolutions on UNLDC-V, including its scope, duration, national and regional reviews, preparatory committee meetings and the contributions by the UN Development System and other international organizations;
  • request the President of the 74th UNGA to make substantive contributions to the UNLDC-V, including by organizing a dedicated high-level event of the UNGA focusing on the key priorities of LDCs in preparation for the outcome of the Conference;
  • request the ECOSOC President to make similar contributions to the preparatory process of the Conference;
  • call for an evidence-based, bottom-up approach in preparing for the Conference, in which national-level experience, best practices and lessons learned in the implementation of the IPoA should serve as a “key building-block for the next programme of action”;
  • call upon governments, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders to contribute “in a timely manner” to the trust fund to support the implementation, follow-up and monitoring of the IPoA, the preparation of UNLDC-V, and the participation of LDC representatives; and
  • invite the Group of Friends of LDCs to further strengthen its support for the effective realization of the IPoA and other international agreements and processes related to LDCs.

Among other elements, the declaration also calls on Member States to contribute to the Technology Bank for LDCs, appreciating contributions already made by Bangladesh, Guinea, India, Norway and Turkey. It also welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C and calls for the implementation of its recommendations.

Finally, the ministers express “deep” concern about a “large and persistent gap” between support needed and support provided in terms of finance, technology and capacity building; and note with concern that in most cases, countries that have graduated from the LDC category remain far below the benchmarks under most of the SDG indicators and continue to face insurmountable challenges and vulnerabilities to various shocks and crises. [UNGA President Statement] [UNLDC-V Conference Webpage] [Ministerial Declaration of the Least Developed Countries] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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