Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action – 2011

The Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 was adopted, along with the Istanbul Declaration, by the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 9-13 May 2011. The Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) charts out the international community’s vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the next decade with a strong focus on developing their productive capacities. A broad range of actors is expected to contribute to the IPoA implementation, including donor countries, developing countries, parliaments, the private sector, civil society, the UN system and international and regional financial institutions. The IPoA recognizes that LDCs represent an enormous human and natural resource potential for world economic growth, welfare and prosperity and that addressing their special development needs will contribute to the cause of peace, prosperity and sustainable development for all. Based on the lessons learned during the ten-year implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, the IPoA develops a number of goals and objectives, principles as well as priority areas for action. The overarching goal of the IPoA is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the LDCs in order to eradicate poverty and achieve internationally agreed development goals, with a special focus on MDGs. It specifically aims to enable half of the LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation. This is closely related to the objective to achieve sustained, equitable and inclusive economic growth in LDCs to at least a level of 7 percent annually. The IPoA focuses on reducing vulnerabilities of LDCs and addresses new challenges to development including the effects of the interlinked food, fuel and economic crises and climate change, with a strong focus on structural transformation trough increasing productive capacity. The IPoA also aims at generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, particularly for the youth.


A number of principles were agreed upon in the IPoA which would have far-reaching implications for its implementation. The first principle stresses that the ownership, leadership and primary responsibility for their own development lies with LDCs. The principle of a balanced role of the state and market considerations entails a qualitative shift in the development strategy for the next decade emphasising the active role of the state in the development process. Further principles include an integrated approach, in which the development process in LDCs should be viewed in a comprehensive and holistic manner; genuine partnership and solidarity; as well as result orientation, an integrated approach towards peace and security, development and human rights, an emphasis on equity at all levels and the effective participation, voice and representation of LDCs.


During the next 10 years, LDCs’ national policies of LDCs and international support measures will focus on the following specific objectives:

  1. Achieve sustained, equitable and inclusive economic growth by strengthening the LDCs productive capacity
  2. Build human capacities by fostering sustained, equitable and inclusive human and social development, gender equality and the empowerment of women
  3. Reduce the vulnerability of LDCs to economic, natural and environmental shocks and disasters through strengthening their resilience
  4. Ensure enhanced financial resources
  5. Enhance good governance at all levels, by strengthening democratic processes, institutions and the rule of law

Priority Areas for Action

Actions to be implemented by LDCs and their development partners will focus on eight interlinked priority areas:

  1. Productive capacity
  2. Agriculture, food security and rural development
  3. Trade
  4. Commodities
  5. Human and social development
  6. Multiple crises and other emerging challenges
  7. Mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity-building
  8. Good governance at all levels

Value-additions and Key Deliverables

Among the value-additions and key deliverables of the IPoA:

  • Commitment by the countries of the South to support the effective implementation of the Programme of Action;
  • Active engagement of civil society, private sector and parliaments in the implementation and follow-up;
  • Commitment by the development partners to integrate the PoA into their respective national cooperation policy framework and by LDCs into their development strategies;
  • Doubling the share of LDCs exports in global exports by 2020 and the commitment to ensure timely implementation of duty-free, quota-free (DFQF) market access, on a lasting basis, for all LDCs;
  • Strong reaffirmation of fulfilling the official development assistance (ODA) promises by 2015 and agreement on reviewing the ODA commitment for further enhancing resources to LDCs after 2015;
  • Enhancing the share of assistance to LDCs by the development partners for Aid for Trade;
  • Adopting investment promotion regimes by the development partners;
  • Strong emphasis on technological innovation and technology transfer to LDCs, including development partners’ commitment to provide enhanced financial and technical support for this sector;
  • Developing risk mitigation strategies for crisis mitigation and resilience in LDCs; 
  • Strong call for the establishment and full operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and pledges by development partners to promote and facilitate clean development mechanism projects in LDCs;
  • Extension of existing travel-related benefits to delegates of the graduated countries for a period appropriate to their development situation;
  • Ensuring mutual accountability of LDCs and their development partners for delivering their commitments undertaken under IPoA; and
  • Ensuring good governance, gender equality and empowerment of women and rule of law in LDCs as well as strengthening voice and representation of LDCs at international forums.

Implementation, Follow-up and Monitoring

The ultimate success of the Conference rests with the full and effective implementation of its outcome by all stakeholders including the UN system. With a view to undertaking a concerted and coordinated approach in the implementation of the IPoA, the United Nations Office of the High-Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) convened on 28 June 2011 a Brainstorming Meeting on the way forward for the implementation of the IPoA for LDCs. The meeting was presented with a draft comprehensive roadmap on the way forward. The IPoA contains comprehensive follow-up and monitoring measures at national, regional and global levels, which should be mutually complementary and reinforcing. Necessary steps will likewise be taken to ensure mutual accountability of LDCs and their development partners for delivering the commitments undertaken by both sides, based on the global partnership and the principle of national ownership. National-level arrangements are particularly important as national ownership and leadership has to start there. The IPoA calls for the mainstreaming of its provisions into national policies and development framework as well as regular reviews at country level with the full involvement of all stakeholders. Likewise development partners should integrate the IPoA into their cooperation frameworks and monitor the delivery of their commitments. At the regional level, biennial reviews should be undertaken by relevant regional commissions and agencies, involving regional and subregional organizations. These would feed into reviews at the global level, which involves monitoring of the implementation of the IPoA by the General Assembly and ECOSOC, including in the AMR and the DCF. Finally a comprehensive high-level mid-term review is envisaged.

Report of the Istanbul Conference