Group of Eminent Persons aims for half of the least developed countries to graduate from LDC status by 2020

The Eminent Persons Group report released ahead of the global conference on the least developed countries in May 2011 says that these countries can break out of a decades-long poverty trap, depending on determined national action and international support. The report also shows upward progress in category after category of economic and human well-being indicators by developed and dynamic developing countries, while LDC trends are close to flat-lining.
Pointing to the high incidence of conflicts in countries with extreme poverty and weak institutions,the Report saysthat “increasing marginalization of the LDCs is creating a future that we, as a global community, cannot afford.”Measures advocated by the panel include adequate, prioritized and better targeted development assistance; duty- and quota-free access for LDC exports; doubling farm productivity and school enrolment in these countries; and beefing up the developmental and democratic capacities of LDC governments.     
The drive for better global integration by the least developed countries is not starting from a standstill, the report notes that :
·Since the previous LDC conference (Brussels, 2001), almost all have experienced strong per capita economic growth, and official development assistance has risen sharply.
·Also since 2001, LDC governments have progressed in terms of adopting democratic constitutions, increasing women’s role in government, and instituting economic reforms and new legal frameworks.
·While dependence on primary commodities remains a problem, the LDCs’ significant share of the world’s strategic minerals, oil, arable land and eco-resources gives them an inside track on attracting trade and investment and diversifying economies.
·Economic advances in the broader developing world have paid dividends for the LDCs in terms of South-South aid, trade and investment. 
The Eminent Persons accordingly have taken up a theme that has also emerged from the intergovernmental negotiations for the next ten-year LDC plan of action – aiming to graduate half of the current members of the grouping by 2020. “This is the time for global solidarity to achieve progress even in the poorest countries of the world,which will go a long way in advancing global prosperity and security,” the report says.
The upcoming Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries will take place 9-13 May in Istanbul, and will be  hosted by the Government of the Republic of Turkey.  Cheick Sidi Diarra, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, has been appointed Secretary-General of the Conference.
The Group of Eminent Persons is  co-chaired by  Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of Mali and former Chairman of the African Union Commission; and  James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank;
The other members are :Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee; Nancy Birdsall, the founding president of the Center for Global Development; Kemal Dervis, vice president and director of Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution, and former Administrator of the UN Development Programme(UNDP); Sir Richard Jolly, Honorary Professor of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and formerly with UNDP and with UNICEF, respectively; Louis A. Kasekende, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Uganda and former executive director at the World Bank; Louis Michel, a member of the European Parliament and formerly the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; and Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Company Ltd.
For more information, please contact Ricardo Dunn of theOffice of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States at