Fourth U.N. Conference On The Least Developed Countries Continues To Examine Development Possibilities For LDCs

“More than 8,000 people – representatives of governments, international agencies, development partners and civil society – are attending the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV), outlining a plan to lessen the burden of poverty, hunger and disease on the world’s most vulnerable people,” Inter Press Service reports (Ngozo, 5/10).

At the conference in Istanbul, there is a lot of talk about how “dominant approaches to development have failed the world’s poorest citizens and now the paradigm must change,” according to a second IPS article. “NGOs charge that an approach privileging economic liberalisation and free trade has been unevenly applied in practice, with developed countries maintaining key measures to protect their own interests while pressing poorer countries to abandon them. LDCs, they continue, have been obliged to follow the demands of international financial institutions rather than implement their own alternative policies and programmes for sustainable and broad-based development,” the news service writes.

Civil society groups outlined their recommendations for LDC development in a report, which “includes a demand for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of all debts owed by LDCs and a review of the mandate and operations of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank,” IPS reports (Ngozo, 5/8).

UNFPA Report Calls For Investment In Young People, Women To Boost Productivity In LDCs

Babatunde Osotimehin, head of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), highlighted concerns about population growth in LDCs, another IPS article reports. “The population growth in the LDCs is higher than the growth in other developing countries,” Osotimehin said at the conference. “We are seeing a trend of 3 to 3.5 percent in the LDCs … [W]e are contending with a situation where there are 900 million people in LDCs now, and if growth continues that way, in 2050 it would double to about 2 billion,” he said. 

UNFPA also released a report, which “says investments in young people, women’s empowerment and reproductive health, including family planning, are critical to boosting LDCs productive capacity and speeding their escape from the cycle of poverty” (Suri, 5/10). “When girls are educated, healthy and can avoid child marriage, unintended pregnancy and HIV, they can contribute fully to their societies’ battles against poverty,” said Osotimehin, IBNS/Sify News reports. “In a world of 7 billion, every person, especially women and girls, should enjoy human rights and human dignity, and have the opportunity to make the most of their potential,” he said (5/11).

UNDP Report Recommends Strategies To Increase Standards Of Living In African Countries

The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) also released a report (.pdf) at LDC-IV, which recommends ways to increase standards of living in Africa, VOA News reports. “Integrated regional investments could lead to an accumulated 10 percent increase in the continent’s standard of living between 2012 and 2020,” according to the UNDP report (DeCapua, 5/10).

The report “calls for more integrated investment in basic infrastructure such as roads and power, as well as better access to public services,” U.N. News Centre writes. It also states that “greater economic integration will only happen if there is strong political support and committed leadership from African governments,” the news service writes.

“Ambitious and well-designed integration agendas can advance both inclusive growth and human development – enabling African LDCs to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark (5/10).

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