Doha Political Declaration adopted by world leaders to fast-track progress in least developed countries

The declaration is significant since it comes amid simultaneous global risks of rising cost of living and inflation as well as climate change
Photo: @UNTechBank / Twitter
Photo: @UNTechBank / Twitter

The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) concluded with adoption of the ‘Doha Political Declaration’ by the world leaders.

The declaration made by the head of the states is a key outcome of the second part of LDC5 conference held under the theme “From Potential to Prosperity” at Qatar from March 5-9, 2023.

With just under eight years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the declaration focuses on implementing the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) — the 10-year plan to put the world’s 46 most vulnerable countries back on track to achieving the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

It was adopted a year after the text of DPoA for the Decade (2022-2031) was agreed upon during the first part of the LDC5 conference on March 17, 2022 in New York.  

DPoA (2022-2031) consisted of six key focus areas including eradicating poverty, leveraging the potential of science and technology to fight against multidimensional vulnerabilities and to achieve the SDGs, addressing climate change, environmental degradation, recovering from COVID-19 pandemic and building resilience against future shocks for risk-informed sustainable development.

The 46 LDCs are being hit the hardest by multiple crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, growing inequalities, rising debt burdens and economic shocks.

They have contributed minimally to carbon dioxide emissions, but disproportionately bear the burden of climate change impacts, noted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its report The low-carbon transition and its daunting implications for structural transformation, 2022.

These countries, which include 33 African nations, face the challenge of high debt costs while having inadequate liquidity to provide essential services. 

In the last decade, debt service costs in LDCs have jumped to over 20 per cent from around 5 per cent in 2011, stated UNCTAD.

Debt service cost trend since 2011

Source: UNCTAD

“Around 25 developing economies are spending over 20 per cent of government revenues solely on servicing debt,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his statement at the conference. 

The LDCs are the worst performers on the progress made towards achieving SDGs, flagged the Sustainable Development Report 2022.

The political declaration made at Qatar is significant since it comes amid simultaneous global risks of rising cost of living and inflation as well as climate change impacts.

It is expected to help the LDCs 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.

It is also expected to help the LDCs overcome the socio-economic impacts following the Ukraine-Russia war.

Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of UN, said:

The five key deliverables from the DPoA – an online university, a graduation support package, a food stock holding solution, an investment support centre and a crisis mitigation and resilience building mechanism – will answer key challenges facing the LDCs, and set the path for a more prosperous, equitable future.

The global financial system has been extremely unfair to LDCs, Guterres stated. Around 9,000 participants, including 46 heads of state and governments and nearly 200 ministers and vice-ministers, called for urgent support from developed countries to advance socio-economic and environmental development in LDCs.

In fact, a range of commitments of around $470 million were committed from improving biodiversity and tackling malnutrition to resilience building in the LDCs. 

Germany, for instance, announced €200 million in new money in 2023 towards financing for the LDCs. Qatar announced a financial package of $60 million to support the implementation of the DPoA and help build resilience in the LDCs.

The conference demonstrated the existence of political will to turn the items under Doha Programme into action, and the implementation of the commitments will be important for the LDCs.

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