The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha, Qatar ended on Thursday, March 9, 2023, with member states committing to measures to deliver on the Doha Programme of Action, a 10-year plan to put the world’s 46 most vulnerable countries back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The promoters believe that bold commitments at the conference marked a transformative turning point for the world’s poorest countries, whose development has been hindered by crises including COVID-19, climate change and deepening inequalities.
“Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the Least Developed Countries is a litmus test for achieving the 2030 Agenda writ large, including by ensuring that no one – and no LDC – is left behind,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. “That is why the Doha Programme of Action must be seen as a vehicle for SDG Acceleration.”
Under the theme “From Potential to Prosperity”, the conference aimed to drive transformational change to positively affect the 1.2 billion people who live in the LDCs.
“The commitments made this week are a true embodiment of global solidarity and partnership and will pave the way for a new era of international cooperation,” said Rabab Fatima, Secretary General of the Conference and UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
“This will result in more of the Least Developed Countries achieving the goal of graduation and a more prosperous and sustainable future,” she continued.
Doha Programme of Action
Discussions at LDC5 centred around delivery of the Doha Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2022-2031, which aims to manifest a new generation of renewed and strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their partners, including the private sector, civil society, and governments.
The Programme, agreed in 2022 after LDC5 was postponed due to the Omicron outbreak, outlines a transformative agenda to tap into the potential of the LDCs. Measures include the development of a food stockholding mechanism for LDCs; an online university focusing on STEM education, especially for women and girls; an international investment support centre; a sustainable graduation support facility; and comprehensive multi-hazard crisis mitigation and resilience-building measures for least developed countries.
Agreements reached this week will help the LDCs to address the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, to return to a pathway to achieve the SDGs, address climate change, and make strides towards sustainable and irreversible graduation.
Some 5,000 participants attended LDC5, including 47 Heads of State or Government and 130 Ministers and Vice-Ministers. They called for developed countries to urgently provide the most vulnerable countries with the assistance they need to drive socio-economic and environmental development. Corporate leaders together with civil society, youth and other partners shared plans, innovations, and recommendations in several areas: from enhancing the participation of LDCs in international trade and regional integration to addressing climate change, strengthening global partnerships, supporting graduation, and leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation.
The Doha Declaration
The Doha Political Declaration, adopted on Thursday, reinforces the international community’s commitment to the Doha Programme of Action.
The Conference has presented a unique opportunity to translate the vision of the Doha Programme into tangible results with countries and stakeholders showcasing a host of commitments. These commitments range from improving biodiversity and tackling malnutrition to resilience building in the LDCs.
- Qatar announced a financial package of $60 million: $10m to support the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action and $50 million to help build resilience in the LDCs.
- Germany dedicated €200 million in new money in 2023 for financing for least developed countries.
- Canada announced $59 million to deliver Vitamin supplements in 15 LDCs and ecosystem conservation in Burkina Faso.
- The EU Commission announced cooperation agreements advancing sustainable investments in Africa totalling more than €130 million of investment.
- Finland announced an annual event called the United Nations LDC Future Forum in Helsinki, with the Office of the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States – OHRLLS –, to ensure the latest thinking and research is being put to work to ensure progress on the most vulnerable states.
- The Green Climate Fund announced a new project to give $80 million in equity to offer green guarantees to business in LDCs and bring down the cost of capital.
- The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, announced a new €10 million Tourism for Development Fund for LDCs, supported by TUI Care Foundation, that will invest by 2030 to support sustainable tourism in LDCs as a key driver of development.
- The government of Kazakhstan pledged $50,000 to continue their work supporting the most vulnerable member states of the United Nations.
- The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced a major new loan package for the Least Developed Countries.