Delegations seek to realign development strategies for world’s poor, as Conference on Least Developed Countries continues in Istanbul

Report
from United Nations
Published on 10 May 2011 View Original

LDC Conference Plenary

LDC/ISTANBUL/4

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)

10 May 2011

New Action Plan, Say Speakers, Must Outline Framework for Leveraging Diverse Resources, Comparative Advantages into Stable Economic Growth

Structurally transforming the world’s poorest countries over the next decade required investing in national productive sectors, building infrastructure to boost trade and, for many small islands, adopting measures to cushion against external shocks that often wiped out hard-won gains, senior Government officials said today as the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries moved into its second day.

During the week-long Conference, negotiators are looking to build upon the 2001 Brussels Programme of Action and adopt measures to help least developed countries attain economic self-sufficiency, push back poverty and create decent jobs. The next action plan, many of the nearly 40 speakers said, must recognize the unique and varied challenges faced by the poorest nations, as well as outline a clear framework for leveraging their diverse resources and comparative advantages into long-term economic growth.

Its relevance, some said, would be judged by how well it addressed constraints faced by poor nations in integrating meaningfully into the global economy. Others said the action plan must leave no doubt that the main responsibility for improving the future lay first with those it sought to help and stem from a genuine political will to implement agreed strategies. Official development assistance must also become less selective and more predictable.

The road ahead would be particularly daunting for those still “smarting” from the 2008 global financial crisis, said Gervais Rufyikiri, Second Vice President of Burundi, who also cited unequal trade terms, high oil prices, limited access to agriculture inputs, unemployment and population growth among the factors that hampered progress. Many of the 33 poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa also were dealing with “brain drain”, torn social fabrics and the plundering of natural resources brought on by political instability.

“Africa is not poor; it is the people of Africa who are poor,” insisted Arthur Peter Mutharika, Minister of Education, Science and Technology of Malawi, who in spirited remarks urged the Conference to help African countries turn their resources into wealth and develop a manufacturing base so that people did not “drown in the Mediterranean looking for jobs in Europe”. African countries and their partners must agree on how value addition would be accomplished and re-examine why the Doha round of international trade talks had failed.