22 June, Dakar, Senegal: The regional consultation of West African LDCs on graduation from LDC Criteria in reference to the IPoA and the Agenda 2030 took place in Dakar, Senegal on 21 and 22nd June 2017. It was attended by representatives from CSOs and progressive experts of West African Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The meeting, jointly organized by LDC Watch and ARCADE concentrated on four thematic areas, vital for West African LDCs: Poverty, Conflict and Development , Climate Change and Adaptation: Agriculture , Food Security and Food Sovereignty and Trade, Technology Transfer and International Cooperation.
Out of the 48 LDCs, 32 of them are in Africa, and 12 in West African Countries. Like all LDCs they are rich in natural resources but are stigmatized with severe poverty. A wide range of problems including armed conflicts, unfair global trade system and climate change have inhibited these countries from developing as per their potential.
Civil Society Organizations play a key role in ensuring that their governments, private sectors and public enterprises are taking the right measures to bring out peace and stability in their countries.
Mr Demba Moussa Dembele, President of ARCADE, talked about need for LDCs to have a strong presence in the international development platforms and for this LDCs need to have a united voice. He emphasised on the urgent need for LDCS to improve their negotiating capacity in order to have their concerns reflected in international agreements.
A 20 point declaration was adopted at the end of the consultation. It highlights major issues, concerns and demands of West African LDCs from the CSO perspective. It urges all stakeholders to pay special attention to West African LDCs since they are in post-armed conflict transitional period, a very sensitive phase for countries. Conflicts have been the main reason because of which these countries are not being able to come out of poverty. These countries need to invest heavily in peace-keeping in order to prevent relapse into conflict situations.
The declaration urges Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and the entire international community to extend adequate and appropriate assistance to West African LDCs in finding viable resolutions to prevent conflicts, protect people from natural disasters and overcome growing public health challenges.
It calls upon the international development community to fulfil their pledges of assisting LDCs tackle various manifestations of climate change through monetary or technical assistance. It sternly denounces the neoliberal trade regime under which the small holder farmers and their products are disadvantaged. It emphasizes on the importance of enhancing intra- regional trade as it is the key to sustainable development and particularly for food security. The regional blocs in Africa should work together to enhance intra Africa trade and reduce and eventually eliminate non-trade barriers to create African Common Market in future promote fair trade for LDCs.
It urge the West African LDC governements and the development partners to develop national strategies that are and time-bound and result-oriented while taking into account the effective implementation of the IPoA, SDGs 2030, Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction and Paris Framework Convention on Climate Change .
Mr Gauri Pradhan, International Coordinator of LDC Watch, congratulated the participants for their active participation in the consultation and urged them to take the combined mission of graduating from LDC criteria ahead with spirit of solidarity.