Least Developed Countries (LDCs) can play a critical role in ensuring that the new global sustainability goals, which the international community aims to have in place by 2015, are both fair and effective, according to an independent group of thinkers from these countries.
“But, for this to happen, the LDCs will need to redefine themselves according to their strengths, act to improve governance, and promote greater solidarity both with each other and with more developed nations,” the group said in a briefing paper released Thursday by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
IIED said members of the Independent Expert Group (IEG), working in research institutes, media, civil society organisations and government agencies in 11 of the LDCs, would be in New York City from 24-26 June to provide input into a series of meetings about the post-2015 development agenda.
Supported by IIED, the group aims to influence the UN’s efforts to define global sustainable development goals to take effect from 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.
“The LDCs are in many ways the weakest but they also have strengths such as their local knowledge and institutions, their culture and values and their resilience to uncertainty,” said Dr Tom Bigg of IIED, who coordinates the group’s activities.
“The LDCs can be leaders in the post-2015 process by promoting new forms of international cooperation that enables greater solidarity and sharing of knowledge and responsibilities.
“They can act to redefine development assistance by working harder to use their national wealth to meet the priorities of the poor and they can do more to share their lessons and experiences of how to measure development and manage environmental resources,” he said.
Dr Essam Yassin Mohammed, a researcher with IIED and member of the expert group, added: “The Independent Expert Group sees solidarity, rather than partnership, as being the key to effective international collaboration in the post-2015 framework as it implies shared interests and responsibilities rather than the outdated donor-recipient relationship.”
According to the expert group’s briefing paper, LDCs have most at stake as the world builds a post-2015 framework for international development cooperation.
“They suffer unacceptable deprivation, and many are ‘behind the curve’ on progress to achieving the MDGs. On the other hand, LDCs have much to contribute to global understanding of emerging development trends and priorities, and to managing globally important resources, such as oceans, forests, grasslands and other fragile ecosystems,” the paper said.
Underlining the need for solidarity, the IEG noted that LDCs have traditionally had very weak bargaining power in international processes and have often been coerced or co-opted by more powerful countries and groupings.
“It is a challenge for LDCs to work together because of their tremendous political and geographic diversity.
“The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations have shown how LDCs can negotiate together and support one another in solidarity — putting group interests before national interests,” it said.
The IEG aims to produce technical briefs on different thematic areas, which will be in line with the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals’ work programme in the run-up to February 2014.
Chaired by former Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, IEG members are: James Murombedzi, CODESRIA (Zimbabwe, based in Senegal); Youba Sokona (Mali); Hama Arba Diallo, Mayor of Dori (Burkina Faso); Farah Kabir, ActionAid (Bangladesh); Dipak Gyawali, ISET (Nepal); and Fatima Denton, African Climate Policy Centre (Gambia, based in Ethiopia).
Others are Rosebell Kagumire, Africans Act for Africa (Uganda); Pa Ousman Jarju (The Gambia); Chimere Mariteuw Diaw, African Model Forests Network Secretariat (Senegal, based in Cameroon); Chime P Wangdi, Tarayana Foundation (Bhutan); Saleemul Huq, IIED (Bangladesh); Essam Yassin Mohammed, IIED (Eritrea, based in London).