Secretary-General calls for more engagement with Least Developed Countries to correct severe economic imbalance

10 March 2023
Secretary-General speaking at the LDC5 event

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, has advocated for increased international support for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at a UN conference in Doha, Qatar this week.

Out of the Commonwealth’s 56 countries, 33 are Small States, 25 of which are Small Island Developing States, and 12 are among the world’s LDCs.

The economic gap between LDCs and the rest of the world has been increasing. GDP per capita for the LDC group represented 15 percent of the world average in 1971, but by 2019 this had declined to less than 10 percent.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General advocated for LDCs at the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha this week, where she called for accelerated sustainable development to tap into the full potential of these countries to help them build strong, prosperous and equitable futures.

The world’s Least Developed Countries are in a race against time to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The remaining years need to usher in a new global partnership to ensure the 46 LDCs in the world benefit from social, economic and environmental development, and that the impacts of global issues like climate change, which stand to adversely impact these countries, are mitigated.

During the UN LDC conference, the Commonwealth Secretary-General spoke at the launch event for the LDC5 Monitor which is an independent partnership to monitor and assess the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) and provide suggestions on how international support measures should be adapted to better support LDCs.

In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General gave insight into how the international community can increase its engagement with LDCs and help correct the severe economic imbalance.

Speaking at the event, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:

“The implementation of the Doha Programme of Action (DPoA) is vital as we work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in this crucial final decade of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Commonwealth’s Least Developed Countries face a range of long-term structural challenges, and they are disproportionately exposed to the world’s current the economic, environmental and security pressures.

There has been clear agreement at this conference that we need to accelerate structural transformation in LDCs if we are to make decisive and irreversible progress towards ending poverty and inequality, building resilience, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development. And to help LDC weather our present storms, we need to transform the international support system, to ensure LDCs have the tools they need to respond to unexpected shocks and crises.”  

The Secretary-General also highlighted the work of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment which provides a platform for Commonwealth countries to exchange best practices and experiences to boost trade and investment, undertake domestic reform and reduce trade frictions between member countries.

She added that the Commonwealth will continue to advocate for fair, credible and complete definitions and measures of vulnerability that will support better criteria for access to development finance and a fairer, more effective and more inclusive global financial architecture. To aid these efforts, in 2021 the Commonwealth developed a Universal Vulnerability Index (UVI), which assesses a country’s vulnerabilities and net resilience.

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with Intel will offer training in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to thousands of our Commonwealth citizens. Partnerships like this can help upskill, retrain and develop the necessary workforce skills to support productive transformation in LDCs.

In her closing statement, the Secretary-General called for a newly invigorated and additionally funded Aid for Digital Trade initiative to provide much-needed support for LDCs to tackle the digital divide, develop ecosystems supporting their participation in digital trade and the digital economy, and grow and diversify their exports.

Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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