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Asian LDCs need urgent support to check slipping backward

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 31 August, 2021 12:00 AM
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As multiple crises swirl around the globe, a United Nations summit is hearing how the hard-won development gains of the 12 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Asia and the Pacific are under threat and require immediate international attention.

 Senior officials are meeting in Geneva for four days from Monday to discuss how the international community can support them after the shock of pandemic-related collapses in commodity prices, foreign direct investment and tourism.

Hosted virtually by the government of Bangladesh, the meeting brings together LDCs from Asia and the Pacific, development partner countries, the United Nations and other international and regional institutions and civil society for four days of meetings and thematic discussions.

Topics under discussion range from overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic and tackling the climate crisis to the graduation of many of the Asia-Pacific nations from their status of Least Developed Country, said the ESCAP.

With 10 of the 12 Asia-Pacific LDCs on the path to graduation, smooth transition out of the category is a core concern for governments of the region.

“Transformative development is on the horizon but strong support to realise it is urgently needed,” said AK Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh.

“For LDCs on the path to graduation such as Bangladesh, the commitment to recover and Build Back Better along a sustainable graduation path is unwavering. LDCs and their international partners must collaborate to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and tackle the climate crisis, but also provide specific supports for LDCs to graduate smoothly out of the Least Developed category.”

Co-organised by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the meeting is discussing how the world’s LDCs must face the challenge of delivering their development goals by 2030.

But given the major financial, economic and social disruptions triggered by Covid-19 and climate change, the impact of these crises has been profound.

"Despite major challenges, the Least Developed Countries of the Asia-Pacific region have made remarkable progress with a clear majority on the path to graduate from the LDC category,” said Courtenay Rattray, United Nations High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries  and Small Island Developing States.

He continued, “In the years prior to the pandemic, they reduced poverty and invested in social programmes and education, and in their infrastructure. Now we must rally to ensure these investments are protected.”

The Geneva meeting is a preparatory session on the road to LDC5, the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5), taking place in Doha, Qatar on January 23-27, 2022.

At that meeting, heads of state and government will be convened by the United Nations Secretary General to agree and ambitious decade-long action plan to ensure the Least Developed Countries are supported to recover and flourish in the midst of deep uncertainty.

"The last decade has taught us a lot about the vulnerability of Asia-Pacific's Least Developed Countries,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

“We need to be more integrated and ambitious in our efforts to increase economic diversification and structural transformation and reduce vulnerability to external shocks and disasters. This meeting – and the wider LDC5 process – is a vital effort to get the needs of Asia-Pacific’s LDCs higher up on the global agenda.”