Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs (2011–2020)

Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs (2011–2020)

Monitoring Deliverables, Tracking Progress – Analytical Perspectives You do not have access to this content

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LDC IV Monitor
30 Oct 2014
9781848599130 (PDF)

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Ambitious in nature, the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) adopted by the Fourth United Nations Conference on the LDCs (UN LDC IV) in 2011, sets out a development path for LDCs for the coming decade. Successful implementation of the IPoA requires identification of delivery tools for specific targets, provision of necessary financial and non-financial resources, and a strengthened monitoring mechanism. LDC IV Monitor, an independent partnership of eight interested organisations, aims to add value by enhancing transparency, accountability and efficiency of the official monitoring and review mechanism of the IPoA.

LDC IV Monitor’s first set of two reports, produced outside of the official intergovernmental process, provide credible, evidence-based and policy-oriented assessment of the delivery status of the promises contained in the IPoA. The Synthesis Report, derived from the critical analyses of the state of play concerning the IPoA, presents the broad messages and key recommendations. The volume on Analytical Perspectives addresses a wide spectrum of issues including articulation of a composite IPoA index, building of productive capacity, trade in goods and services, delivery of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), flows of different forms of development finance, and consequences of climate change. The publications seek to contribute towards crafting national and international policies to support graduation of the LDCs through structural transformation of their economies.

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  • About LDC IV Monitor
  • Foreword
  • Foreword
  • Preface from the Chair

    The publications here, titled Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs (2011– 2020): Monitoring Deliverables, Tracking Progress – Synthesis Report and Analytical Perspectives, are a set of unique documents in terms of the process underpinning its preparation, its content and the messages that emerged from scholarly analyses of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) so far.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • The Challenges of Structural Transformation and Progress towards the MDGs in LDCs

    The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC IV) took place against a backdrop of lacklustre performance of this group of countries over the last four decades (Bhattacharya and Hossain 2011a). Prior to the conference, concerns were raised with regard to the concrete deliverables to be agreed upon at the UN LDC IV (Bhattacharya 2010). In this context, the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), adopted at UN LDC IV, spelt out a set of strategies and measures for addressing the special needs of the LDCs in the next decade (2011–20) (Bhattacharya and Hossain 2011b). IPoA put forward eight priority areas under five objectives covering 47 goals and targets (UN 2011a).

  • The Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs

    The United Nations (UN) Least Developed Country (LDC) Conference in 2011 adopted the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) to be implemented by LDCs and development partners (which include traditional donors and emerging developing countries) to improve the economic and social conditions in the world’s poorest countries. The programme foresees favourable measures for LDCs in international trade, development financing and technical assistance, building up productive capacity, etc. However, the goals and targets as specified in the IPoA are, in most cases, not concretely defined. This chapter seeks to redress this shortcoming and suggests an approach towards monitoring progress vis-à-vis quantifiable targets that correspond to the objectives sought by IPoA.

  • Assessing the Prospects of Accelerated Graduation of the LDCs

    This chapter provides the first systematic examination of the graduation trends and prospects after the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC IV) and the adoption of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). A major statement of the IPoA is ‘the aim of enabling half the number of least developed countries to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020’. This goal has been referred to or reiterated in several official UN documents (UN Resolutions of December 2012). While considered at the time of the Istanbul Conference as moderately realistic, it has shown a change in international attitudes towards graduation. Graduation has been considered less as a threat for development of the graduating countries, and more as the signal that these countries were reaching a new phase of development. After Istanbul, the fear of graduation has been dampened by the General Assembly resolution on ‘Smooth transition’ adopted in December 2012 (and following the report of an ad hoc working group of the General Assembly on this topic).

  • Infrastructure for Development in LDCs

    The objective of this chapter is to set out the main challenges that infrastructure (transport, telecommunication, energy, and water and sanitation) poses to foster equitable and sustainable development in least developed countries (LDCs). It attempts to monitor infrastructure commitments of the Istanbul Declaration and the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) by proposing quantitative and qualitative indicators for the IPoA. It also compares infrastructure performance in LDCs with those in developed and other developing economies. Finally, this paper highlights the need to improve the policy-making process in these economies in order to tap unexploited opportunities for development.

  • Agriculture and Rural Development Status in LDCs

    This chapter is a first attempt to monitor the actions of development partners – whether unilaterally or jointly with least developed countries (LDCs). In doing so, the chapter examines recent trends in LDCs’ agricultural and rural development, with a particular focus on East African LDCs. The chapter attempts to assess the progress made towards achieving the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) set targets, and proposes areas for monitoring with respect to resolutions and commitments to improve agriculture productivity, enhance food security and reform the rural sector.

  • Commodities and the Istanbul Programme of Action

    Many least developed countries (LDCs) depend heavily on commodity production and trade for the generation of employment, income, savings and foreign exchange. This implies that a ‘successful’ commodity sector is a prerequisite for graduation from the LDC category. However, the characteristics of the commodity sector, including unstable markets and prices, intense competition among suppliers, difficulties concerning effective participation in value chains and, particularly in the case of natural resource-based commodities, the necessity for sustainable exploitation and good management of resource rents, limit the potential of this sector as an engine of growth and development. The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) identifies two areas of particular importance for action regarding commodities. These are dependence and vulnerability to external shocks.

  • Harnessing Trade for Structural Transformation in LDCs

    The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) lists two key goals in the priority area of trade: first, to increase least developed countries’ (LDCs) exports significantly with a view to doubling their share of world exports by 2020; and, second, to ‘make substantial efforts’ to conclude the Doha Round at the earliest point, with an outcome beneficial to LDCs. In pursuit of these goals, the IPoA lists a total of 16 actions to be pursued by LDCs and their development partners.1 In short, LDCs should mainstream trade into their national development strategies; improve competitiveness and diversify their production base and exports; and also facilitate trade through better institutional processes. Development partners, for their part, should support LDCs through Aid for Trade (AfT) and technical assistance to help them engage more effectively in the trade negotiations; improve their capacity to trade in goods and services; and implement their obligations in the areas of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT). The international community should also facilitate the transfer of technology and support the process of regional co-operation and integration in LDCs. Joint actions include addressing supply-side constraints and other impediments to LDCs’ trade, including trade-distorting measures and non-tariff barriers; and providing enhanced trade preferences through a comprehensive dutyfree and quota-free (DFQF) scheme, more favourable rules of origin and effective special and differential treatment, thus facilitating LDCs’ accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Annex 7.1 provides an overview of actions in the IPoA priority area of trade and comments on their implementation status.

  • Facing Climate Change in the LDCs

    The climate change issue is briefly considered in Section IV. Priority areas for action, F. Multiple crises and other emerging challenges of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). In section F, climate change is examined along with environmental sustainability, economic shocks and disaster risk reduction. The monitoring of the recommendations in this section on climate change is fairly complex, since the actions do not refer to monitoring indicators, either measurable or observable. In order to monitor these actions we propose, first, to identify, through an indicator of physical vulnerability to climate change, the level and type of vulnerability to climate change of the least developed countries (LDCs). Second, we evaluate two types of actions recommended by the IPoA: establishment of national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and the LDC Fund orientation. The first part of this chapter shows the high level of vulnerability of the LDCs and their heterogeneous profiles of vulnerability to climate change. The second part is an assessment of the actions recommended by the IPoA for adaptation to climate change, considering the needs of the countries as identified by the index.

  • ODA to and External Debt in LDCs

    Official development assistance (ODA) has been a major source of external finance since the 1970s in least developed countries (LDCs). Aid, as a share of their gross domestic product (GDP), has increased significantly since then. Developed countries and donors have made commitments to scale up their contribution of ODA further at various international platforms. The Millennium Development Summit in 2002 of the United Nations (UN), the UN Conference on Finance for Development in Monterrey in 2002 and in Rome in 2008, and the UN Conferences on LDCs are examples of initiatives which have emphasised the need for higher ODA flow to LDCs. Ironically, while the commitment is strong on paper, the implementation remains weak on the ground as most donor countries are yet to fulfil their commitments.

  • Foreign Direct Investment for Development and Productive Capacity Building in LDCs

    This chapter discusses Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA)-related issues with regard to foreign direct investment (FDI) in two aspects. First, it highlights issues related to enhancing FDI flow in least developed economies (LDCs). Second, it discusses FDI in the context of enhancing productive capacity in LDCs. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to address issues related not only to challenges for attracting FDI in LDCs, but also to challenges for channelling it into productive capacity building.

  • Leveraging Migration and Remittances towards Graduation of the LDCs

    In view of rising migration from the least developed countries (LDCs) in recent years (UNDESA 2012), remittance flows have emerged as a major source of foreign exchange earnings for a number of the LDCs. In appreciation of this, many LDCs have started to reorientate their development strategies by taking into cognisance the potential benefits of both outmigration and the resultant inward remittance flows. This growing role in the economies of the LDCs and the underlying development potentials of migration and remittances were recognised in the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for the LDCs (UN 2011) and were also reflected in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s LDC Report 2012, which stressed the need to harness remittances and diaspora knowledge to build productive capacities in the LDCs (UNCTAD 2012).

  • Domestic Resource Mobilisation in the LDCs

    Domestic resource mobilisation, broadly, refers to creation of savings from domestic sources and dynamically channelling these resources towards productive investments. It is maintained that the level of domestic resource mobilisation parallels the process of structural transformation of the economies of the least developed countries (LDCs).2 It is the case that LDCs’ domestic resources are inadequate not only for investment, but also for national governance (UNCTAD 2010). The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) lays stress on structural transformation with an aim to reduce acute poverty in the LDCs. Notwithstanding the commendable growth of gross domestic product (GDP) until the advent of the global economic and financial crisis in 2008, LDCs have continued to remain abjectly dependent on foreign savings coupled with limited capacity to mobilise domestic resources for productive investments (UNCTAD 2011). High reliance on external financial resources has limited the policy options for LDCs. The current state of domestic resource mobilisation in the LDCs is yet to shift accountability back to their citizens from their external benefactors, impeding creation of a more stable and legitimate state in the process (UN-OHRLLS 2010). Recent experience of the global economic crisis has revealed that steady domestic resource mobilisation can facilitate a reduction of vulnerability arising from volatile external income (UNCTAD 2007). Issues related to domestic resource mobilisation are also currently being revisited as a number of LDCs with a low tax/GDP ratio are recommended for graduation from the group.

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