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TWN Update on Sustainable Development Conference 2012 (May11/04)
14 May 2011
Third World Network

Highlights of the LDC Conference Programme of Action
Published in SUNS #7150 dated  16 May 2011

Istanbul, 13 May (Meena Raman) -- The Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Istanbul is expected to conclude on May 13 with the adoption of two outcome documents - a Programme of Action for the LDCs for the decade 2011-2020 and the Istanbul Political Declaration.

The LDC Conference began on 9 May and at its first plenary meeting, it established a Committee of the Whole (COW) which was entrusted to consider the draft documents of the Conference.

Negotiations on the Programme of Action (POA) concluded on Wednesday, 11 May, with the COW agreeing on a draft document to be adopted by the plenary on Friday, 13 May, while negotiations on the Political Declaration were still underway late at night on 12 May.

The advance draft version of the POA is comprised of a 50-page document which identified the following priority areas for action: productive capacity (infrastructure, energy, science, technology and innovation and private sector development); agriculture, food security and rural development; trade; commodities; human and social development (education and training, population and primary health, youth development, shelter, water and sanitation, gender equality and empowerment of women and social protection); multiple crises and other emerging challenges (economic shocks, climate change and environmental sustainability and disaster risk reduction); mobilizing financial resources for development and capacity-building (domestic resource mobilization, official development assistance, external debt, foreign direct investment, and remittances); and good governance at all levels.

In each section, there is a general statement of the issue, and then three categories of actions:  Joint Actions (i.e. by LDCs and developed countries), actions by LDCs and actions by Development Partners (i.e. the developed countries).

Notable in the section on agriculture is a paragraph that the "development partners" will fulfil in the Doha agenda the 2005 pledge at the WTO to eliminate export subsidies and equivalent export measures by the end of 2013.

In the section on Trade, the most hotly contested issue was duty-free, quota-free market access (DFQF) for LDCs. While there was an effort by developing countries in general to make an advance over the WTO Hong Kong decision of 2005 (which mandates at least 97% of LDC products obtain DFQF status), the eventual outcome was to "realise timely implementation" of the Hong Kong decision. However, an advance is that the adoption of this at the LDC conference could pave the way for an "early harvest" of the stalled Doha talks.

In the climate change section, the actions by LDCs include that they would "mainstream and implement national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs), medium and long-term national adaptation plans and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), and integrate these into national development plans." This pledge seems to go beyond what the LDCs have been obliged at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

On aid, there are different pledges for different categories of donor countries. Those providing more than 0.20 per cent of their GNP as ODA (official development assistance) to LDCs will continue to do so and try to increase ODA further; those which have met the 0.15 per cent target will undertake to reach 0.20 per cent expeditiously; and others which have committed themselves to the 0.15 per cent target reaffirm their commitment and undertake either to achieve the target by 2015 or to make their best efforts to accelerate their endeavours to reach the target.

It was also agreed that the donor countries should review their ODA commitments in 2015 and consider further enhancing the resources for LDCs.

Below are some important extracts of the sections of the Programme of Action on some of the issues, namely, agriculture, trade, climate change and aid.

AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND NUTRITIONAL SECURITY AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT

Action by development partners:

-- Provide enhanced financial and technical support for the development of the

agricultural sector;

-- Deliver on commitments made to achieve global food security and sustainable agricultural development, and provide adequate and predictable resources through bilateral and multilateral channels, including the commitments set out in the L'Aquila initiative on global food security;

-- Fulfil in the Doha Development Agenda, the 2005 pledge of members of the World Trade Organization to ensure the parallel elimination in agriculture of all forms of export subsidies and disciplines on all export measures with equivalent effect to be completed by the end of 2013.

TRADE

-- Significantly increase the share of least developed countries' trade in global trade with the aim of doubling the share of least developed countries' exports in global exports by 2020, including by broadening least developed countries' export base;

-- Realize timely implementation of duty-free quota-free market access, on a lasting basis, for all least developed countries consistent with the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration adopted by the World Trade Organization in 2005;

-- Make substantial efforts for an early and successful conclusion of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations with an ambitious, comprehensive, balanced and development-oriented outcome.

Joint actions:

-- Resist protectionist tendencies and rectify trade-distorting measures, including in agriculture, that are inconsistent with multilateral obligations;

-- Address non-tariff measures and reduce or eliminate arbitrary or unjustified non-tariff barriers, i.e., those that are not in conformity with World Trade Organization rules; standards and technical regulations must be developed transparently and applied in a non-discriminatory manner, and should be technically justified and not constitute a disguised restriction on international

trade.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

-- In the implementation of this section of the Programme of Action there is a need to bear in mind the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the acknowledgement that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions.

Action by least developed countries:

-- Mainstream and implement national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs), medium and long-term national adaptation plans and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), and integrate these into national development plans;

-- Build and strengthen national capacity to access and efficiently absorb relevant funding mechanisms;

-- Strive to ensure that development plans and programmes integrate adaptation considerations, with an aim to minimizing the impact of climate change on livelihoods;

-- Develop and implement national strategies for sustainable use, preservation and protection of the national environmental resources.

Action by development partners:

-- In line with international conventions and agreements, provide adequate financial and technical assistance and support, as appropriate, to least developed countries to access appropriate, affordable and sustainable technologies needed for the implementation of NAPAs and NAMAs and the transfer of such technologies on mutually agreed terms;

-- Facilitate least developed countries' access to required resources from different environment and climate funds, including the Global Environment Facility (GEF);

-- Provide financial and technical assistance and facilitate technology transfer [on mutually agreed] terms to least developed countries' efforts to develop and implement national strategies for sustainable use, preservation and protection of the national environmental resources and the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and ecosystems in line with their broader sustainable development strategies;

-- Replenish and expedite, as appropriate, the disbursement of funds for adaptation to least developed countries under UNFCCC, including the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Adaptation Fund, and other funds disbursed through other global and bilateral programmes;

-- Accelerate the legal and institutional arrangements for the establishment and full operationalisation of the Green Climate Fund, as part of the implementation package included in the decisions adopted during the sixteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

Action by development partners:

-- Provide financial and technical assistance to least developed countries to support their disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, and post-disaster reconstruction efforts, and, in this regard, strengthen sharing of knowledge and expertise as well as transfer of technology on mutually agreed terms to least developed countries;

-- Support least developed countries to strengthen their capacity to reduce their vulnerability to natural disasters and to benefit from regional and international early warning systems and other information-sharing mechanisms.

OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE

Action by development partners:

-- Donor countries providing more than 0.20 per cent of their GNP as ODA to least developed countries: continue to do so and maximize their efforts to further increase ODA to least developed countries;

-- Other donor countries which have met the 0.15 per cent target: undertake to

reach 0.20 per cent expeditiously;

-- All other donor countries which have committed themselves to the 0.15 per cent target: reaffirm their commitment and undertake either to achieve the target by 2015 or to make their best efforts to accelerate their endeavours to reach the target;

-- Donor countries should review their ODA commitments in 2015 and consider further enhancing the resources for LDCs;

-- Continue to make progress on untying aid as encouraged by the 2001 OECD/Development Assistance Committee recommendation on untying ODA to the least developed countries;

-- Align the allocation of ODA to least developed countries' priorities with particular focus on productive capacity development, as appropriate, in order to achieve sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development;

-- Explore new innovative finance mechanisms and strengthen and scale up existing ones, where appropriate, given their potential to contribute to the development of least developed countries. Such voluntary mechanisms should be effective and aim to mobilize resources that are stable and predictable, which should supplement, and not be a substitute of, traditional sources of finance and be disbursed in accordance with the priorities of developing countries and not unduly burden them. +

 


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