President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi has said the debt profile of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) may hit $83 billion.
In his remarks to the Civil Society Forum also being held on the margins of the LDC Leaders’ Summit in Qatar on Saturday, Kőrösi said between 2011 and 2019, the combined debt of LDCs tripled from $10 billion to $33 billion per year.
A debt projected to rise by another $50 billion due to the unaccounted effects of the pandemic,” he said, explaining that “on a human scale, that means 32 million more people pushed into poverty across the world’s LDCs, with women and children bearing the heaviest brunt of misery.”
While stating that strengthening the bonds between civil society organizations and the United Nations is imperative, he stressed that “Let us commit ourselves to working hand in hand, to supporting the transformation of Least Developed Countries, and to achieving sustainable development.”
Mr. Kőrösi went on to cite a raft of challenges facing these countries, saying they are “at a crossroads on their paths toward sustainable development,” as sadly, the pandemic had reversed years of economic growth that had played an important role in improving access to health and services and reducing poverty overall, with some LDCs now experiencing the first economic contractions in three decades.
With this in mind, the Assembly President said: “But we have to make a choice to invest in our sustainable development goals. A conscious choice. The smart choice. The ethical choice. This is not philanthropy. This is about doing the right thing.”
“To achieve this, we must work together. Across borders. Across sectors,” he continued, pointing to the DPoA, which he said, provides a comprehensive framework designed to address the challenges faced by LDCs and support those nations in achieving sustainable development. “That is a blueprint for turning our potential into prosperity. A game plan for harnessing the wealth that we do have.”
On his part, the President of Malawi, and Chair of the LDC Group, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera in his address, stressed that the unique global challenges and multilateral obstacles facing the LDCs cannot be “surmounted by any of us on our own”, and that “most nations abandon multilateralism and turn inward, turn their back on the brotherhood of all mankind, but we must resist that temptation.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of US$639 in 2021, according to the World Bank. Like many other LDCs, poverty and malnutrition are widespread in this sub-Saharan African nation, with more than half of the population living below the poverty line. Malawi is also facing the effects of climate change, with increased flooding and drought causing further damage to crop and livelihoods.
Ahead of a major United Nations conference on the world’s most vulnerable countries, Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday urged the international community – particularly wealthy nations – to step up and help the more than 1.1 billion people in these countries break out of “vicious cycles” and lift themselves out of poverty.
“Countries with the least need support the most. And you need it now. You represent one in eight people on earth. But your countries are trapped in vicious cycles that make development difficult, if not impossible,” Mr. Guterres told the Summit of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), in Doha, Qatar.
In closing remarks, Rabab Fatima, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and head of the relevant UN Office, known as UN-OHRLLS, said that the office would make every effort to tailor its work according to the needs and priorities expressed at the Leaders’ Summit.
She echoed the leaders’ sentiments that the least developed countries should now be at the forefront of the international community’s endeavors to make up lost ground on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Indeed, she continued, “the battle of winning or losing the SDG race will be decided in the Least Developed Countries and other vulnerable countries. If we are unable to fully prioritize the needs of the LDCs in this Decade of Action and Recovery, the SDGs will remain only an ambition.”
The Doha Programme of Action, she said, “is our best chance of turning ambition into reality.” Not only is that action plan fully aligned with the 2030 Agenda, but it also goes farther in its scope and ambition. “With a new generation of targets, commitments and deliverables, this is, in fact, an ‘SDG+ package’ for the Least Developed Countries,” stated Ms. Fatima, who is the Secretary-General of the LDC5 Conference.