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Bangladesh UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul K. Chwodhury sure wasn't a happy camper last week when he portrayed the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as "permeated by a mood of desperation and disappointment." Insisting that negotiators address the root causes of poverty as opposed to 'band-aiding' over the symptoms, Chwodhury anticipated no meaningful action would occur at LDC-IV in Istanbul.

The LDC-IV was a stepping stone en route to next year’s Rio+20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which will focus on the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. Also on the agenda?  The design and agreement on an international framework for sustainable development.

Chwodhury says the 880 million people currently residing in 48 LDCs remain the voiceless and the most marginalized, not worthy of attention until "they are engulfed in conflict or devastated by natural disasters."

LDC delegates in attendance at LDC-IV suggested the current attitude exhibited by development partners is best expressed by the "4Ds" -- “deny, dilute, delay and divide."

In recent years, the global situation, of course, has changed in a negative way requiring a new and innovative approach to structure the possible outcome in Istanbul.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case and the preparations took the path of working on an outcome that lacked any spark worthwhile for energizing the LDCs and as a result, the usual, insensitive bickering of the United Nations negotiating process has been visible all through. This unfortunately manifested its worst face when the expression "development partners" present in all previous LDCs-related documents of the UN came under serious and persistent challenge from the long-recognized donor countries. See MAJOR SALVAGING NEEDED FOR LDC IV IN ISTANBUL


Rio Earth Summit 2012

Rio+20 marks the 20th anniversary of the initial 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which first introduced the vital need for sustainable development onto the world's stage.  Next year's conference, already well under development, is designed to reignite dwindling political commitment and evaluate progress towards "internationally agreed-upon sustainable development goals" while addressing emerging challenges.   (Further Information: Earth Summit 2012 Process & Roadmap and U.N. Resolution A/RES/64/236.)

Underlying the major themes of Rio+20 are the high significance of gender equity. Educating women to play significant roles in the economic empowerment is viewed as integral to scaffolding an adequate 21st century model for sustainable development which would necessarily incorporate a reduction of global poverty.


LDC-IV Conclusions

Reports from LDC-IV, which ended last Friday, revealed fiercely honest evaluations, most specifically that the conference not only failed to meet the expectations of the LDCs, it also fell woefully short of its UN General Assembly mandate.

The Istanbul Political Declaration was highly critical of "flaws and shortcomings of the model of development promoted by dominant players in the international community." The IPD demanded a shift to a New International Support Architecture, a development model that would fundamentally transform  "the relations between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, men and women, the elites and those without resources, the dominant and the marginalised."

We strongly believe that it is important to base development on LDCs’ strengths and not on their weaknesses. Countries may be categorized as ‘poor’ according to UN criteria, but they are rich in many important aspects – in community cohesion, in natural resources and being able to live in harmony with our natural world, in diverse cultures and in human dignity. And especially in the growing numbers of young women and men who have huge potential and hopes for a better future. In many ways, our societies are the most developed countries, not the least developed.

.... But the LDCs are economically disadvantaged, exploited and marginalised. As part of the preparation for this conference, civil society engaged in an extensive process of listening to the concerns of the people in the LDCs through local, national and regional consultations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. These highlighted the greater burdens that the marginalized and vulnerable peoples of LDCs have had to face in the last decade, with new crises of food, water and energy, the impacts of the financial crisis, and the intensification of the climate crisis. There is deep fear over an uncertain future even as there is determination to survive.


We are calling for the Istanbul consensus to constitute a clear rejection of the Washington consensus. Government policy should be based on participative national development strategies that focus on each country’s vision and core strengths. We must build jobs and opportunities for the sustainable use of our oil, our mineral wealth, our land, our forests, our fish and other natural resources, protecting the rights of traditional owners and users of the resources, adding value and insisting on fair prices. Diversification of our economies will require government leadership to build a strong domestic economy, with particular emphasis on creating opportunities for cooperatives and social enterprises, small and medium companies and women-led organisations. The rights of vulnerable and marginalised people must be put at the centre of economic decision-making, with stronger mechanisms for transparency, integrity and accountability.

(See also Highlights of the LDC Conference Programme of Action)


UN Women, the newest UN agency, was represented at LDC-IV by Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director Ms. Michelle Bachelet. Bachelet spoke on women migrant workers; most specifically, their rights, challenges and labor and social protections.  

“Migration and development is attracting the attention of more and more players, particularly as it affects LDCs,” she said.  “For UN Women this has two essential elements: protecting migrant women’s rights and enabling them to contribute more fully to economic development." Link

In summarizing the conference, Bakary Kante, UNEP Director of the Division of Environmental Law and Conventions, acknowledged the vast discrepancies between traditional thinking on economic growth and sustainable development and the disproportionate impact on LDCs due to environmental and climate change.  

“We know that we need to grow our economies in order to lift more people out of poverty and find decent jobs for the 1.3 billion young people underemployed or unemployed-especially in the developing and in particular in the Least Developed Countries,” he said. “But that growth needs to become far more intelligent on a planet of around seven billion people, rising to nine or ten billion in 2050.

"If not, the risks, shocks and unpredictability of food, fuel and other commodity prices witnessed over the past two to three years are likely to become ever more extreme and socially challenging."

Originally posted to EcoJustice on Mon May 16, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Foreign Language Edition Group Newsletter, DK GreenRoots, lundi channel, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Beyond Kyoto, WiserEarth, MIT Climate CoLab Proposal, and RoadtoRio.

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