08 April 2011

Worrying about the 'Least Developed Countries'

Al Jazeera does a surprisingly good job writing on recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). I say surprising because I am used to reports that do not do much more than give a cursory summary.
"Business as usual is not sufficient," said Sir Richard Jolly, an honorary professor at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex and a member of the UN secretary-general's newly-appointed Group of Eminent Persons (GEP) on LDCs.

"Trade reforms in agriculture are urgent and essential, especially because a high proportion of the poor in LDCs are dependent directly or indirectly on agricultural production... Strengthening agricultural production in these countries often means improving local markets and limiting cheap exports from COP 8 countries where agricultural production is subsidised," he added.

A report released ahead of the summit in Istanbul by the GEP made clear that "increasing marginalisation of the LDCs is creating a future that we, as a global community, cannot afford."

"Of course, economic growth alone is not the only test of progress. There is need for human development, which is sustainable, attention to the priority issues of poverty reduction, MDG achievement and attention to environmental sustainability for the medium and longer run," Jolly said.

While this rhetoric is hopeful, and possibly even inspiring to some, many experts believe that it is quickly becoming obsolete.

Kouglo Lawson Body, the director of economic policy for the International Trade Union Confederation-Africa, stressed that his organisation, which represents 16 million workers from 48 African countries, was less focused on finding solutions to community-level problems than it was in understanding and analysing global trends that lead to local challenges.

"We need real reform in global governance to free the LDCs from the dominion of international institutions and even from some of the emerging developed countries," Body said.
Now the question of if the report is a bit overstated is another issue altogether...with conclusions like writing off debt and the like. I will say this much, the status quo remains unacceptable in international development. Because of that, I welcome thought that tries to constructively stir things up a bit. If that is all this report can do then I am content with it, but I will leave it to people who are smarter than I to break it down and analyze the findings.