International community review progress of the Istanbul Programme of Action
The Midterm Review (MTR) of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries took place in Antalya, Turkey from 27 to 29 May, 2016. The three-day meeting, co-organized by The Government of Turkey and The United Nations’ Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States was attended by two thousand participants including high-level officials and representatives from government, parliaments, international and regional organizations, civil society, private sector, foundations, think tanks and the media.
The MTR featured an inter-governmental plenary, four high-level roundtables, more than two dozen side events, a private sector forum, a civil society forum and a pre-conference event hosted by UNFPA and the Government of Bangladesh. A number of initiatives were announced, including the appointment of a Governing Council for the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, which will support access to and the better utilization of science, technology and innovation.
The MTR took place on the heels of an unprecedented and ambitious agenda for the United Nations where in 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement were adopted. Antalya was an important opportunity to strengthen synergies between the implementation of the IPoA and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The event capitalised on the shared will of the international community to intensify efforts in enhancing support for the LDCs in the remaining five years of the IPoA.
The meeting reaffirmed a strong commitment to reverse the decline in Overseas Development Assistance and fulfil the pledge made by development partners to allocate the equivalent of 0.2 per cent of their Gross National Income to Least Developed Countries.
It was emphasized that initiatives and programmes, providing Least Developed Countries with access to duty-free and quota-free markets and offering favourable conditions under which exports qualify for preferential treatment, should be fully utilized. There was a further commitment to increase Aid for Trade to LDCs. The MTR presented an important opportunity to foster transformative multi-stakeholder partnerships among governments, private sector, academia, civil society and the United Nations to strengthen the enabling environment in LDCs.
The international community committed to undertake a study that will consider ways in which LDCs can manage and withstand shocks such as natural disasters, health pandemics and economic volatility. It was also agreed to increase the role of the United Nations system in supporting Least Developed Countries to attract an increased flow of foreign direct investment that promotes economic growth and development.
“LDCs represent almost a billion people, an enormous human and natural resource potential for world economic growth, welfare, and prosperity.” Said Secretary-General of the Conference, Gyan Chandra Acharya “Leaving no one behind and protecting our planet is possible only by addressing the special needs of the poorest and most vulnerable group of nations.”
The meeting adopted a Political Declaration, in which participants highlighted how the Least Developed Countries have experienced some recent progress in areas including reduced child and maternal mortality rates, gender parity in education and parliaments and access to the internet and mobile networks. Economic growth has also been strong, despite its pace having been more volatile and below the average of the last decade. There has also been an increase in the number of countries fulfilling the graduation criteria.