Collateral damage? The Russia-Ukraine conflict and energy transitions in Least Developed Countries


By Dr. Harry Verhoeven, Senior Research Scholar at the Centre on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University


Discussions about climate are, always, discussions about distribution- of costs, benefits and sacrifices. For years now, the grand bargain required to ward off the existential threat of human-induced global warming has been clear. Rich, developed economies need to swiftly and comprehensively decarbonise their energy and industrial systems in ways that both mitigate the intensity of climatic changes and that enable the planet’s poorest societies to follow a cleaner, more equitable growth trajectory. Doing so would generate time, resources and appropriate technologies for those currently marginalised in the global economy to respond more effectively to climatic upheaval. Understood as such, combating climatic changes should also help address those other mega-problems challenging 21st century civilisation: multidimensional poverty; yawning inequalities between and within countries; and the structural exclusion of hundreds of millions of people from access to public goods to which they are ethically and legally entitled.

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Why the least developed countries of the Commonwealth are doing better at trade


 By Brendan Vickers, Economic Adviser and Head, International Trade Policy Section; Salamat Ali, Economic Adviser & Trade Economist and Neil Balchin, Economic Adviser, Trade Policy Analysis, The Commonwealth Secretariat


In 2020, the share of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in world trade remained at just 1%. Although the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for LDCs and SDG target 17.11 both sought to double LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020, the world’s 47 LDCs missed the target. While this could be regarded as a “lost decade” for  gains from trade, the performance of the Commonwealth’s 14 LDCs tells a more promising story: their collective share in global exports was 1.27 times higher in 2020 than in 2011 and two LDCs — Rwanda and Tuvalu — almost doubled their share of world exports.

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Women working in a potato field in Bangladesh

Least Developed Country graduation: Past, present and future


By Jose Antonio Ocampo, Professor at Columbia University and chair of the ECOSOC Committee for Development Policy. Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Finance Minister of Colombia


As the world prepares for the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in Doha[1], we need to ask not only whether this category is still relevant today but also what graduation from this status implies. After the LDC category was created fifty years ago, the number of such countries grew steadily due to the emergence of newly independent countries that faced significant disadvantages as well as major setbacks experienced by other developing countries. Nonetheless, LDC status was envisaged as a temporary phase in a country’s development trajectory: the concept of graduation was introduced twenty years after the LDC category itself.

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How aid for trade can best support Least Developed Countries in the next decade


By Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director of the Enhanced Integrated Framework Executive Secretariat at the World Trade Organisation and Annette Ssemuwemba, Deputy Executive Director of the Enhanced Integrated Framework Executive Secretariat at the World Trade Organisation


The median recovery time of least developed countries (LDCs) from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is three years, according to the International Monetary Fund. More worryingly, more than a dozen of them are likely to take at least five years to recover.   

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Street view of the market in Lome, Togo, Western Africa, October 16, 2007. Photo by EiZivile, Shtetterstock

50 ans de pays moins avancés : l’heure est venue pour une nouvelle génération de mesures de soutien international


Par Ablamba Ahoéfavi Johnson, Ministre, Secrétaire général de la Présidence de la République du Togo.


La catégorie des pays les moins avancés (PMA) a été établie par l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies en 1971, suite à la prise de conscience par la communauté internationale de la nécessité de mettre en place des mesures d’appui aux pays souffrant de handicaps structurels et qui sont menacés par l’extrême pauvreté.

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How can research help Least Developed Countries achieve sustainable development?


By Kunal Sen, Director of United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)


The next decade is a make-or-break for the world’s most vulnerable countries. To tackle the unprecedented confluence of COVID-19, climate, and economic crises, new solutions are desperately needed. Scientific research is one key for finding long-lasting solutions.

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It’s time to move beyond a debt moratorium and finance productive capacities in least developed countries

By Paul Akiwumi, Director, Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes, UNCTAD


According to recent UNCTAD analysis, most LDCs will likely take several years to recover the level of GDP per capita they had in 2019, and compared to developed countries, which may experience a short V-shaped recovery, the median LDC would take roughly three years to climb back to pre-COVID-19 levels of output per capita. Moreover, extreme poverty in LDCs is projected to rise to 35%, equivalent to 32 million people, due to the pandemic.

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Least Developed Countries have 13 years to meet global trade rules, but still lack critical flexibility at the WTO

By Rachel Thrasher, Researcher, Boston University Global Development Policy Centre

By only granting a 13-year extension in a critical time for economic recovery from COVID-19, Members of the World Trade Organization may be creating more severe challenges for Least Developed Countries and the global economy down the road.

Without much fanfare, on June 29, 2021, the member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) quietly agreed to extend the transition period for least-developed countries (LDCs) to implement the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) for another 13 years.

The recently granted extension falls substantially short of what was requested, though it is slightly longer than the previous two nine-year extensions. The news has received relatively little attention in the midst of negotiations for vaccine access and pandemic fears about new vaccine-resistant variants, but to be sure, the failure to acknowledge the need for a longer-term transition period has substantial impacts for LDCs’ development trajectories.

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COVID-19 pandemic: threats to SMEs in poorest nations require swift policy action

By Frank Hartwich and Jenny Larsen, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Factories around the world roared into action again in the second half of 2020, following the COVID-19-related slump that brought large parts of industrial production to a standstill in early 2020. The bounce back, led by Europe, China and other parts of Asia, has been faster than expected, with most of the losses felt in the first half of 2020 recovered by early 2021, although there are big differences between regions and sectors.

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Amid cyclones and COVID-19, Vanuatu makes bold decision to graduate from ‘least developed country’ category

By Violeta Gonzalez Behar, Head of Partnerships, Outreach and Resource Mobilisation, Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), World Trade Organization & Michelle Kovacevic, Communications Specialist and Consultant for EIF

On 4 December 2020, Vanuatu shed its official classification as one of the world’s least developed countries (LDC). This significant milestone – called ‘graduation’ – is something that only five other countries have managed to achieve in the last 40 years. And Vanuatu’s graduation achievement may be the most impressive of all given that, over the past few years, not only has it has weathered significant economic and social fallout from repeated natural disasters, but also a major drop in tourism revenue due to border closures during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

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