Progress in implementing LDC’s Istanbul Programme of Action is mixed says United Nations.

12-01-2017:  Progress in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action has been mixed.  Over the past five years, progress by the LDCs towards graduation from the category accelerated, with 10 LDCs currently in the graduation process. Furthermore, progress has been made towards several goals and targets. Extreme Poverty has seen consistent reduction in LDCs albeit slowly.

Despite the progress, poverty levels in LDCs remained high on average: 51% based on the latest data in the period 2001-2012. LDCs continue to face structural challenges of low productivity, low economic base, low development and multiple vulnerabilities. However, they are making good progress in some of the important priority areas. For example, mobile cellular subscriptions almost doubled and access to clean water increased from 60% in 2005 to 68% in 2014. In addition, LDCs made significant progress in child mortality and gender parity in primary education. By contrast, despite acceleration of efforts over the past five years, a majority of the LDCs did not meet most of the IPoA targets on human and social development, which were closely related to the MDGs.

Challenges remain to the sustainable development of LDCs, with some new and increasing risks and uncertainties threatening their development gains, including lower and volatile commodity prices, major natural disasters, climate change impact and health epidemics like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. LDCs are more vulnerable to such shocks due to high levels of poverty, limited fiscal space, limited capacity and export concentration.

A precondition for structural transformation in LDCs is the increase in productivity in agriculture, industry and services sector, which is crucial in eradicating poverty and hunger. Much more emphasis should be placed on agriculture and rural development where productivity has not improved and on which a large population depends for employment.

One can see an upward trend in domestic resource mobilization in LDCs. The ratio of government revenue to GDP, excluding grants, increased from 13% in 2001-2010 to 16% in 2014. Support for domestic resource mobilisation can significantly leverage ODA especially if it also addresses inequality. ODA to LDCs has declined since 2011 and the average share of ODA to LDCs as a percentage of GNI of Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors was only 0.09% in 2014. While there has been an uptick in ODA going to LDCs in 2015, this trend should be ratcheted up and sustained going forward. Following very strong growth between 2005 and 2010, overall FDI flows to LDCs have remained broadly constant over the past five years, accounting for 2% cent of world FDI.

Trade is an integral part of both the IPoA and the SDGs. However, since 2011 the share of LDC exports in total world trade has largely been stagnant at around 1.1%.

Putting the Technology Bank for LDCs into operation is foreseen by the 2030 Agenda for 2017. The Technology Bank will help LDCs strengthen their national Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and IT capacities and enhance access to technology in order to bring about rapid and transformative change in the lives of the people in LDCs. In order to support and expedite the process of establishing the Technology Bank, the United Nations Secretary General has recently appointed several leading STI experts to serve on the Governing Council of the Technology Bank.

Recommendations on how to move forward:

  • National leadership and ownership for the effective implementation of IPoA-integrated national development strategies will play a crucial role in ensuring rapid, equitable and sustainable development in LDCs.
  • Development partners need to fulfil at the earliest their commitment to provide the equivalent of 0.15 – 0.2 per cent of their GNI as ODA to LDCs and uphold the principles of aid and development effectiveness.
  • Increased investment support is needed for including adopting and implementing investment promotion regimes for LDCs.
  • Much more focus on agriculture and rural development, together with productive capacity development across the sectors, is needed. A comprehensive support package, ranging from improvements in infrastructure to access to credit, insurance and technology should be provided to boost output and productivity.
  • Another area where policies of LDCs need to focus more to achieve structural transformation is employment generation with targeted policies and programs where groups like youth and women need to be given special priority, as they remain the most potent agents of change.
  • LDCs need to further build their national capacity to respond to various kinds of shocks – including through insurance and social protection measures – with support from development partners.
  • The Midterm Review of the IPoA stressed that measures at both the national and international levels need to be enhanced to mitigate and manage risks and address the vulnerability of the least developed countries to various kinds of shocks and crises. The establishment of a dedicated mechanism for crisis mitigation should be explored further and the international community should continue to lend full support with appropriate instruments to overcome their recurrent and devastating vulnerabilities.
  • In order to adapt to the effects of climate change, LDCs need financial support as well as access to technology, going beyond the means of implementation in the 2030 Agenda and the AAAA, being additional to ODA. Thus, relevant funds including the Green Climate Fund and the LDC Fund need to be financed adequately and allocated equitably with appropriate focus on LDCs.
  • Full implementation of DFQF market access for all products from all LDCs, more beneficial rules of origin, reduction of NonTariff Barriers (NTBs), operationalization of the services waiver and implementation of the trade facilitation agreement are crucial. In addition, the share of Aid for Trade provided to LDCs should be increased.
  • South-South and triangular cooperation needs deepening and scaling up to help leverage more resources and investment and serve as a platform for peer learning. A more institutionalised contribution of South-South and triangular cooperation to LDCs including enhanced availability of information is important to reflect the growing capacity of partner countries from the South.

Coherence and Synergies between the IPoA and the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development focuses on all dimensions of sustainable development with a special focus on the least developed countries as the most vulnerable countries. The agenda is transformational and ambitious and puts a focus on equality under the headline “Leaving no one behind”, which implies giving priority to the LDCs. The SDGs provide a broad and integrated development framework and the 2030 Agenda aims to support the implementation of relevant strategies and programmes of action, including the IPoA. The challenges and priorities of LDCs are firmly embodied in the basic architecture of the 2030 Agenda.

In addition to the 2030 Agenda, there have been a number of other important international events in 2015 where LDC issues have drawn special attention. The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction, AAAA and the Paris Agreement are among those that have implications for implementation of the IPoA and the SDGs.

The second Part of this report maps the goals and targets of the IPoA in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It focuses on the actions agreed in the IPoA and the means of implementation under each SDG as well as in goal 17, and how their implementation can be enhanced. The report thus gives special attention to the issue of coherence in the implementation, review and follow-up of the IPoA on the one hand and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the outcomes of other processes, on the other.

The IPoA has 47 goals and targets. In addition, LDCs committed to undertake 126 actions and development partners committed to implement 109 actions. LDCs and development partners will undertake 16 joint actions to implement the eight IPoA priority areas. Several of those goals and targets coincide with the SDGs, which address the root causes of poverty and the universal need for sustainable development. They seek to promote economic growth, structural transformation, environmental sustainability and human and social development, which are priority areas for LDCs.

The analysis of the mapping exercise shows that in relation to the LDC priorities as agreed in the IPoA, the global frameworks have many similarities. In fact, SDGs provide a global development framework and commitment to global partnership. The IPoA could be understood as the focussed priorities of LDCs going towards SDGs.

There is a strong overlap between the IPoA and SDGs. In particular, in the areas of health, education, gender empowerment, poverty and hunger, energy, infrastructure as well as peace, justice and institutions, and means of implementation significant similarities exist. In some instances, differences occur at the level of specificity, deadlines for meeting some targets as well as actual thresholds to be achieved. For example the SDG target relating to commodities mainly focus on price volatility. However, the IPoA covers this priority in a more comprehensive manner by including the broadening of the LDC economic base in order to reduce commodity dependence, among others. Nevertheless, diversification in the context of the SDGs is covered in goal 9, which calls for promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation, among others. Overall, the findings in this section suggest that fully implementing the IPoA priorities on productive capacity as well as human development and building resilience will significantly contribute towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

With respect to implementation, the principle of country ownership and leadership, contained in the IPoA as well as the 2030 Agenda, remains crucial in order to accelerate progress towards sustainable development. LDCs should take the lead in formulating, implementing, following up and reviewing their own coherent economic and development policies, strategies and plans.

Given the amplitude and scope of the SDGs, their implementation will need to be integrated into global targets into national plans, ownership of the SDGs by all stakeholders, monitoring of targets and indicators with the help of real time data both at national and global levels, coordination among various agencies and departments of the government and the private sector, and effective partnership amongst all stakeholders.

In order to implement the 2030 Agenda, several LDCs have already started mainstreaming the SDGs into national development plans, including strategies on how to mobilize more external support. This mainstreaming needs to continue, building on mainstreaming experiences of the MDGs and the IPoA. In addition, LDCs need to enhance institutional capacity in order to integrate different dimensions of sustainable development across policies and to prioritize SDG targets. The report makes several suggestions in this regard, for example enhancing inter-ministerial coordination.

In order to achieve the universal SDGs, systemic issues should be addressed better, as highlighted in the AAAA. These should include coherence of development policies with other areas, especially trade and finance. In addition, international tax cooperation and the fight against capital flight need to be enhanced.

The importance of monitoring and follow up at the national, regional and global levels – involving various stakeholders – has been stressed in the IPoA as well as in the 2030 Agenda. In this respect, it is important to align the monitoring processes as much as possible, so as to avoid duplication and excessive reporting burden on national systems. Capacity building for collecting and processing timely and accurate data as well as strengthening mutual and domestic accountability is especially critical in areas where the IPoA overlaps with the SDGs. More disaggregated data are needed in order to bring about transformative change in all regions and groups within LDCs – especially rural populations, women, youth, children and the disabled – and ensure that no one is left behind

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