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Least developed countries (LDC)

LDCs should focus on jobs and decent work for inclusive growth and economic transformation, says ILO

Conference participants discuss the importance of developing globalised value chains, building infrastructure, boosting access to energy as well as women’s empowerment.

Press release | 07 August 2014
© Flickr / MercyWatch
COTONOU, Benin – As part of global discussions on the post-2015 development agenda, ministers and senior government officials from the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDC) gathered in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss concrete initiatives to enhance productive capacities and build innovative partnerships to help transform their economies.

The meeting of LDCs, hosted by Benin in close collaboration with the UN Office for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and UNDP, was held from 28-31 July 2014.

The ambitious agenda tackled a broad menu of social and economic issues including effective policy frameworks and institutions, developing globalised value chains, building infrastructure, and increasing access to energy as well as women’s empowerment, quality job creation and sustainable development.

Speaking about the challenges facing LDCs, Aeneas Chuma, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Regional Director for Africa, stated that “skills development plays a crucial role for LDCs to seize opportunities to develop markets for new technologies, to attract investments and to create sustainable, decent and green jobs for a growing labour force.”

Policy prescriptions

These policy prescriptions, supported by recent ILO research, look to overcome the continued impact of the economic crisis which exposed LDCs’ weakness in relying heavily on commodity exports at the expense of manufacturing and economic diversification.

Furthermore, the research showed that LDCs who succeeded in maintaining high levels of growth through the crisis made long-term investments in education and skills-training, implemented robust social protection schemes, and promoted public infrastructure and employment programmes as a pathway to decent work and inclusive growth.

Conference participants coalesced around the idea that increasing productive capacities in LDCs is not only a defining challenge but also an opportunity to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development in the coming decades. They discussed proposals to enhance the ability of poor countries to overcome structural constraints, especially in the UN post-2015 development agenda.

Addressing the means by which to effect these needed changes, the UN High Representative for UN-OHRLLS, Gyan Chandra Acharya, told the assembled delegates that “development partners should be encouraged to do more by channelling aid to support productive capacity building in the LDCs, leveraging aid to encourage investment flows and facilitating trade and promoting technology transfer in a coherent manner.”

He added, “As we prepare to embark upon the post-2015 development agenda, we have heard a clarion call from all the participants for priority focus on these issues in the LDCs.”

Human capital is crucial

The conference deliberations show a growing consensus of the importance of investing in human capital for economic diversification, as well as the catalytic role of social protection floors and improving working conditions for increased productivity and competitiveness as essential to sustainable economic and social development.

In a call for inclusive and people-centered development in the LDCs, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa Director said that LDCs need to “diversify into new, sustainable, job-rich, productive sectors so as to transform the structure of their economies, while building an environment in which development gains are broadly shared.”

As this meeting and other Post-2015 discussions increase the sense of urgency for a universally applicable development agenda, the move towards sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth has shifted the international communities’ attention to the importance of full and productive employment and decent work for all.