Every ten years the United Nations holds an international Conference on Least Developed Countries to plot LDCs’ progress in moving out of the LDC category and to draw up a Programme of Action for the following ten years.
At the most recent UN LDC Conference in Istanbul, May 2011, the Istanbul Programme of Action was designed in the hope that it would have the effect of cutting the number of LDCs from 48 to 24 by 2020. Here are the main points:
Productive capacity – Recommendations for LDCs
• Significantly increase the value-added in natural resource-based industries, paying special attention to employment generation;
• Diversify local productive and export capability with a focus on dynamic value-added sectors in agriculture, manufacturing and services;
• Significantly increase access to telecommunication services and strive to provide 100% access to the internet by 2020;
• Strive to increase total primary energy supply per capita to the same level as other developing countries;
• Significantly increase the share of electricity generation through renewable sources by 2020.
Private sector – LDCs
• Promote a dialogue between the private sector and government and strengthen public-private partnerships;
• Promote women’s entrepreneurship;
Trade – for developed countries
• Realise timely implementation of duty-free, quota-free market access on a lasting basis for all LDCs consistent with Hong Kong declaration by the World Trade Organization in 2005;
• Make substantial efforts for early conclusion of the WTO Doha trade talks;
• Reaffirm special and preferential treatment for LDCs in WTO trade agreements.
Aid – developed countries
• Clear need for much more determined efforts by developed countries to fulfill, and where possible, enhance their aid commitments;
• Donor countries providing more than 0.20% of their GNP as official development aid continue to do so and maximise their efforts to further increase aid to LDCs;
• Other donor countries which have met the 0.15% target: undertake to reach 0.20% expeditiously;
• All other donor countries which have committed themselves to the 0.15% target to reaffirm their commitment.
Debt – developed countries
• Provide full and timely financing for the implementation of the heavily indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC) and the multilateral debt relief initiative (MDRI) that have provided debt relief for 25 LDCs.
Climate change – developed countries
• Provide adequate financial and technical assistance and support, as appropriate, to access appropriate, affordable and sustainable technologies needed for the implementation of national plans of action and mitigation plans.
Foreign direct investment – LDCs
• Remove barriers to investment, securing contract enforcement and promoting respect for property rights and promote public-private partnership;
• Establish a one-window facility for registration and oversight of new and existing FDI and other external financial flows.
Implementation, follow-up monitoring
• Each LDC should integrate provisions of plan of action into national policy;
• The UN secretary general to mobilise all parts of the UN system to coordinate implementation in follow-up and monitoring at all levels from national to global.