A major United Nations meeting focusing on the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) has closed on May 29 in Antalya, Turkey, with a call for greater support to the world’s most vulnerable nations, and the adoption of an outcome document paving the way for further concrete action and progress in the years to come.
“We are pleased that a number of important initiatives have been put forward that will support the least developed countries to reach their full potential” said Gyan Chandra Acharya, the UN High Representative for the LDCs and Secretary-General of the conference.
The three-day meeting, co-organized by the Government of Turkey and the UN, reviewed progress made by the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDCs) since the adoption in 2011 of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA).
At this Midterm Review, challenges and opportunities were considered in addition to recommendations for the next five years of implementation, taking into account the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement.
The meeting, hosted by Turkey in the coastal city of Antalya, brought together around two thousand participants including high-level UN officials and representatives from government, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector.
It featured an inter-governmental plenary, four high-level roundtables, 25 side events, a private sector forum, a civil society forum and a pre-conference event hosted by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and Bangladesh.
New initiatives and Political Declaration announced
A number of initiatives were announced, including the appointment of a “governing council” for theTechnology Bank for LDCs, which will support access to and the better utilization of science, technology and innovation.
“Strengthening global partnerships and supporting strong national leadership and ownership, will assist almost one billion people living in vulnerable countries as they work towards a bright and productive future,” declared Mr. Acharya, who is also the Under-Secretary-General for Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The meeting adopted a Political Declaration, in which participants highlighted how LDCs have experienced some recent progress in areas including reduced child and maternal mortality rates, gender parity in education and parliaments, as well as access to the internet and mobile networks.
Economic growth has also been strong, even though its pace has been more volatile and below the average of the last decade. There has also been an increase in the number of countries fulfilling criteria, which will lead towards graduation from least developed status.
The global community also emphasized that initiatives providing LDCs with access to duty-free and quota-free markets, and offering favorable conditions under which exports qualify for preferential treatment, should be fully utilized, with a commitment to increase Aid for Trade to LDCs.
Commitment to undertake a study that will consider ways in which LDCs can manage and withstand shocks such as natural disasters, health pandemics and economic volatility, was also reaffirmed.
There are 48 LDCs in the world, which comprise more than 880 million people (about 12 per cent of world population), but account for less than 2 per cent of world GDP and about 1 per cent of global trade in goods.