By Charissa Sparks
Published November 13, 2010
As the fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) takes place May 30-June 3, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey to adopt strategies for sustainable development of LDCs for the next ten years, Botswana stands as an example of what could be possible for the 49 LDCs pressing toward their graduation. Identified as the third poorest country 40 years ago, Botswana now has the second fastest growing economy in the world.
Since the establishment of the Least Developed Countries category in 1971, only Botswana and Cape Verde have graduated from the list.
Success can be linked to free open borders, innovative newcomers ready for a chance at success, and good governance. Enforcing strict policies and the implementation of a budget plan that is drafted every five years helps keep leaders accountable. At present, they are on their tenth development plan.
Even though there is no proof success is possible, graduation out of the LDC group can only be achieved through worldwide partnerships. Without the money required for change, these countries may be vulnerable for years to come. They cannot do it alone.
‘800 million people in 49 countries are looking at this conference as a way out of the poverty and economic vulnerability they are caught up in,’ Lakshmi Puri, Director of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing, says in an interview.
The UN describes this group of 49 countries as the poorest and weakest division of the international community whose economic and social development presents a major challenge both for them and their development partners.
With the UN-OHRLLS designated by the general assembly as the coordinator of the conference and its preparatory activities, Puri has a list of things to be done in order to help the LDCs succeed. The plan includes finding innovative sources of financing, developing international trade so LDCs can grow out of aid dependence, providing jobs for young people, developing skills such as literacy and vocational training, and offering international support.
The world has as much to gain as the Least Developed Countries do from the help they receive explained Puri. ‘It is not just charity. These are countries with natural resource potential, the possible investors of tomorrow.’
While there may be a lot to gain in the future from investing in these countries, money is still required to get the progress started. Barbara Adams, Social Watch representative, said the challenge has been getting countries to deliver on their pledge of .7 percent of their budget. “The financial economic crisis has significantly influenced decision making. Donors aren’t as able, and I’m not sure if I should say, willing to give,” she said.
Although there is a long road ahead for countries to graduate from the least developed country category, the question remains as to what could happen if countries are given the opportunity to succeed.
A MediaGlobal Article