Least Developed Countries Urge Adoption of Paris Guidelines to move towards Rapid Climate Action

Following a meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss preparations for COP24 climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland in December 2018,  Gebru Jember Endalew, Chair of the LDC Group, said the world’s 47 LDCs need climate action and collaboration to lift their people out of poverty and achieve low-carbon, climate-resilient sustainable development. Continue reading

Rich Nations Vowed Billions for Climate Change. Poor Countries Are Waiting.

HONG KONG, Mike Ives, New York Times, 13 September 2018— When industrialized nations pledged in 2009 to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the poorest countries deal with climate change, it won over some sceptics in the developing world who had argued that rich nations should pay up for contributing so much to the problem. But so far only $3.5 billion is committed out of $10.3 billion pledged to the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF). Continue reading

Climate Change meeting in Bangkok – LDC Group says little progress means daunting task to conclude Paris Agreement Rulebook

13 Sept 2018, Bangkok As the United Nations Climate Change negotiations drew to a close in Bangkok, Thailand last weekend, the Least Developed Countries Group drew attention to outstanding problems to be resolved, particularly climate finance and loss and damage. The meeting was the final gathering of countries before they meet to agree the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement in Katowice, Poland this December. Continue reading

Samir Amin, Third World Champion and intellectual, dies

On Sunday, 12 August 2018, shortly after 4pm (local) Professor Samir Amin, African scholar and Marxist dies in hospital in Paris, where he had been flown for emergency treatment at the end of July. He was 87. All his life Amin was a Marxist, and also a pragmatist. He played a central role in advisory sessions over the prior two decades with the likes of Castro, Chavez and the world’s most respected grassroots activists. Continue reading

Bonn cimate Meeting: “Very little time left to develop rules to implement Paris Agreement before the December 2018 deadline”, say LDC group of countries

The UN climate change negotiations being held in Bonn, Germany come at a critical time as countries work to finalise the rules and processes to operate Paris Agreement, while the impacts of climate change are intensifying.

Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group, Gebru Jember Endalew, said: “Climate change is a critical issue and an urgent, global response is required. Lives and livelihoods across the world are on the line, particularly in the LDCs. We have a very small window of time left to develop a set of clear, comprehensive, and robust rules to enable full and ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement before the December 2018 deadline.

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Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Principe, and the Solomon Islands to ‘graduate’ out of LDC category

March 22, 2018:  in its 2018 Triennial Review the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) have recommended that four LDCs: Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Principe, and the Solomon Island graduate out of the LDC category to being ‘developing countries’. The CDP added that Kiribati’s graduation is contingent on the creation of a category of countries facing extreme vulnerability to environmental shocks, including climate change. This is the first time that four countries have been recommended for graduation in a single triennial review. Continue reading

UN competition for LDC Journalists offers winners a trip to Sustainable Energy Forum in Portugal in May

 Calling all journalists from the Least Developed Countries

The United Nations is looking for inspiring stories on how sustainable energy positively impacts communities and individuals in the world’s Least Developed Countries. Three winners of the ‘Voices of A Brighter Future’ competition will have their work featured by the United Nations and other news outlets, with travel and expenses covered to report from the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in Lisbon, Portugal 2-3 May 2018. Continue reading

Developing countries, including LDCs, at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

19 March, Larry Elliott, The Guardian: The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned. Five of the countries on the charity’s list – Angola, Lebanon, Ghana, Chad and Bhutan – were spending more than a third of government revenues on servicing debts. Countries with the highest external government debt payments as a proportion of revenue include a number of Least Developed Countries, including Angola, Chad and Bhutan.         

The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the highest level since before the G7 agreement to write off the debts of the world’s poorest nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.

Developing country debt moved down the international agenda following the Gleneagles agreement in which the G7 industrial countries agreed to spend £30bn writing off the debts owed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank by the 18 poor countries.

But developing country debt is now once again being closely monitored by the IMF, which says 30 of the 67 poor countries it assesses are in debt distress or at risk of being so.

Lending to developing countries almost doubled between 2008 and 2014 as low interest rates in the west led to a search for higher-yielding investments. A boom in commodity prices meant many poor countries borrowed in anticipation of tax receipts that have not materialised.

But the Jubilee Debt Campaign said the boom–bust in commodity prices was only one factor behind rising debt, pointing out that some countries were paying back money owed by former dictators, while others had been struggling with high debts for many years but had not been eligible for help. The campaign said developing countries were also vulnerable to a rise in global interest rates as central banks withdrew the support they have been providing since 2008.

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week – with the financial markets expecting two or three further upward moves during 2018.

Tim Jones, an economist at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “Debt payments for many countries have risen rapidly as a result of a lending boom and fall in commodity prices. The situation may worsen further as US dollar interest rates rise, and as other central banks reduce monetary stimulus. Debt payments are reducing government budgets when more spending is needed to meet the sustainable development goals.”

The US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this week, with markets expecting further rises. Photograph: AFP/Getty

External loans to developing country governments rose from $200bn per year in 2008 to $390bn in 2014 and while they have since dropped to $300-350bn per year from 2015-2017 they remained well above levels seen prior to the global financial crisis.

Commodity prices peaked in the middle of 2014 and more than halved over the next 18 months. Despite a recovery from their low in January 2016 they remain more than 40% lower than they were at their peak.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign said the fall in global commodity prices had reduced the income of many governments that are reliant on commodity exports for earnings. In addition, weaker commodity prices led to the exchange rates of developing countries falling against the US dollar, increasing the relative size of debt payments since external debts tend to be owed in dollars.

Angola and Mozambique, two sub-Saharan African countries, and Least Developed Countries, heavily dependent on commodity exports – had both seen falls of 50% in their exchange rates since 2014.

Jones said there had been a lack of transparency about how debts had been incurred. And he said private lenders should suffer from any restructuring agreements.

“Where there are debt crises, the risk is that the IMF will bail out reckless lenders, and the debt will remain with the country concerned,” Jones said. “Instead, reckless lenders need to be made to bear some of the costs of economic shocks through lower debt payments, allowing governments to maintain spending on essential services.”

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