Recently, the second part of the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) took place in Doha, Qatar which included high-level roundtables on specific topics, a general debate, and other events.
The UN’s once every ten years Least Developed Countries conference was held in Qatar from March 5 to March 9. Over the course of five days, the United Nations convened the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) Conference by bringing together world leaders with the commercial sector, civil society, parliamentarians, and young people to push new ideas, generate new pledges of assistance, and encourage delivery on agreed commitments, as outlined in the Doha Plan of Action (DPoA). In terms of human development, 46 countries qualify as LDCs.
Six key focus areas:
- Investing in people, eradicating poverty and building capacity;
- Leveraging the power of science, technology & innovation;
- Supporting structural transformation as a driver of prosperity;
- Enhancing international trade and regional integration;
- Tackling climate change, COVID-19 & building resilience;
- Mobilizing international partnerships for sustainable graduation.
What had happened in the LDC5 conference?
Global leaders had met in Doha, Qatar, for a major United Nations conference aimed at accelerating sustainable development in areas where international aid is most required to unleash the full potential of the most vulnerable nations and put them on the path to prosperity. During the five-day conference, specific initiatives and real outcomes addressing LDC-specific concerns were announced. The conference had included plenary sessions, parallel high-level subject roundtables, and a variety of parallel and side activities on the diverse thematic goals of the DPoA.
Host country commitment
Sheikh Tamim ibn Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, had presided over the opening plenary of LDC5 and offered a $60 million financial contribution towards the execution of the DPoA. The head of the Gulf States reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation in tackling crises worldwide.
“There is a moral obligation incumbent upon the rich and developed countries to contribute more to assist the least developed countries to overcome the global challenges we are now dealing with,” the Emir noted. In light of the importance of the debt crisis to authorities attending LDC5, he urged consideration of its effects on the least developed countries.
“Revolution of support’
According to Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, the LDCs “need a revolution of support” in three critical sectors, adding that “Systems are stretched or non-existent – from health and education to social protection, infrastructure, and job creation. And it is only getting worse.”
António emphasized that the world’s most vulnerable nations, who have been dealt “the rawest of deals,” require immediate assistance to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Secondly, according to the UN chief, a new Bretton Woods moment would be required to change the global financial system. Thirdly, since the LDCs are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, António encouraged rich nations to fulfil their $100 billion commitment to poor nations, simplify access to climate finance, operationalize the loss and damage fund, quadruple adaptation finance, and replenish the UN-backed Green Climate Fund.
Poor countries strongly criticized rich nations
On the first day (Sunday) of the UN summit, leaders from the world’s poorest nations expressed their displeasure and resentment over the mistreatment of their countries by their wealthier counterparts.
Many demanded that the rich nations fulfil their promises of billions of dollars in funding to help them escape poverty and combat climate change. At the conference for the UN Least Developed Countries in Doha, the president of the Central African Republic said that “Western forces” were “looting” his country of natural resources.
More inclusive and fair digital transformation in world’s LDCs
The conference had turned its attention to one of the world’s most challenging global problems: narrowing the staggeringly large digital divide between rich and poor countries. Two-thirds of the population of the least developed countries (LDCs) remain offline, according to a newly-released United Nations report.
In a series of roundtable discussions, global leaders, ci, faced two of the most fundamental obstacles facing LDCs. First, how to make better use of science, technology, and innovation (STI), and second, how to promote structural transformations that can assist marginalized individuals in overcoming real obstacles.
South-South cooperation for LDCs development
During the first day of the conference, participants hailed the catalytic capacity of South-South collaboration – which refers to technical cooperation among developing nations in the Global South – to enable transformative growth in LDCs. The India, Brazil, South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) announced its sponsorship for two new initiatives in Uganda and The Gambia with a combined value of $3 million.
Closing gaps to boost progress among next generations
Dozens of youth delegates representing 226 million young people from 46 of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) took the centre stage to talk about development issues that affect them and their countries in the United Nations LDC5 conference.
The present and future of young people in LDCs, who are already highly susceptible to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human capital, are in jeopardy since the outbreak of Covid-19. During the interactive discussion, youth shared their actions, ideas, and techniques and outlined challenges in the implementation of the Doha action plan. UN Member States and other stakeholders also shared their commitments to involve youth in its implementation at the national, regional, and global levels.
A seminar was also organized to address methods of inspiring and empowering young people through the promotion of their economic inclusion and entrepreneurial abilities.
Acknowledging contributions of women and girls in tech
In honour of International Women’s Day, the LDC5 conference held a celebration honoring the accomplishments of women and girls around the world. In the massive convention centre, young female scientists and innovators rang out with powerful appeals for empowerment.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, “Innovation and Technological Change: Education in the Digital Age,” was directly connected to the LDC5 conference’s main objective. These topics were extensively featured in the DPoA and have been the subject of discussion in Doha for the five days of the conference.
LCD5 and Bangladesh
HPM Sheikh Hasina participated in the 5th United Nations conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) and met with her Qatari counterpart during a four-day visit to Doha, Qatar.
HPM Hasina calls for prolonging preferential market access for graduating LDCs
Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, pushed for a six-year extension of preferential market access for graduating LDCs like Bangladesh as she presented a five-point suggestion to development partners on the sidelines of the LDC5 meeting on Tuesday. It was discussed at an event entitled “Global Partnership for Smooth and Sustainable Graduation: Marching Towards Smart Bangladesh.”
“I wish to make five suggestions for our development partners and firstly for extension of preferential market access for graduating LDCs like Bangladesh for at least six years; and, supporting their trade facilitation and capacity building, including through aid-for-trade,” she said.
In her second proposal, she advocated increasing FDI in graduating LDCs by private sector incentives and by revising investment protection agreements that are mutually advantageous.
Thirdly, she advocated for fostering sustainable industrial growth in newly independent LDCs by helping the private sector there better manage resources, foster better working conditions for workers, and charge reasonable prices.
The fourth suggestion made by the prime minister was to create new finance arrangements to keep the cost of borrowing low enough during the transition phase for former LDCs.
Financing sustainable physical and digital infrastructure projects in emerging LDCs; and encouraging ongoing investment in human capital building and institutional reforms was the focus of her fifth and final recommendation.
“We look forward to building a knowledge-based, developed and smart Bangladesh by 2041. Our private sector and social partners will have to play a prominent role in this journey,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina emphasizes on the need of international collaboration
The prime minister said that the average R&D expenditures of LDCs remain below 0.6% of their GDP, and just a handful of them are included in the World Innovation Index.
“But, LDCs cannot afford to lag behind with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” she said, adding, “Our young people should be made part of the Future of Work. We need meaningful global partnership for that.”
Talking about Bangladesh, HPM Hasina remarked that the government’s emphasis on supporting agricultural research has enabled Bangladesh to battle hunger and become essentially self-sufficient in food. “We are investing further in making our agriculture and livestock smart and environment-friendly. We stand ready to share our good practices with other LDCs through various means, including contract farming,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina stated, in reference to the government’s current emphasis on expanding the scope of medical research, that the effects of climate change on public health are evident through the emergence of new disease burdens. “We must have international collaboration for research in neglected tropical diseases,” she said, adding, “We urgently need investments in developing new treatments for anti-microbial resistance”.
Qatar to aid in education sector of Bangladesh
As part of Qatar’s commitment to international cooperation under the Qatar national vision 2030, the Qatari government aspires to provide educational aid to the LDCs in order to fulfill its SDGs-2030. Hence, Qatar would give Bangladesh 1.27 million US dollars to help the country’s education system by providing more options for the 0.65 million primary school-aged children who are not already enrolled. During a side event of the UNLDC5 summit in Doha, Bangladesh and Qatar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project Education Above All Foundation.