Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the Least Developed Countries 2018

This document is a contribution to the United Nations system’s efforts to follow up and monitor the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, since it reviews recent progress against selected targets and indicators related explicitly to the 47 least developed countries (LDCs).

Its conceptual starting point can be traced to paragraph 27 of the Agenda, and the stated commitment to “build strong economic foundations for all our countries (… and) strengthen the productive capacities of least developed countries in all sectors, including through structural transformation”.

In line with the above, the document presents a brief assessment of recent economic trends and progress towards selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets and indicators in the LDCs. In doing so, it highlights some of LDCs’ key development challenges, which stem from their own domestic conditions, but also from the specific terms of their interdependence within the global economy.

Far from providing a full-fledged country-specific assessment, this document emphasises predominantly the latter international dimension, consistently with the view, expressed in paragraph 3 of the Nairobi Maafikiano, that “while each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, the support of an enabling international environment is integral to the success of national efforts” (UNCTAD, 2016a).

The structure of the document is as follows.

  • Section B: discusses the performance of LDCs in terms of broad macroeconomic trends and inclusive growth.

  • Section C: delves into their implications for industrialization and structural transformation.

  • Section D: tackles key trade-related issues and balance of payment vulnerabilities.

  • Section E: is devoted to the mobilization of development finance, through different sources.

  • Section F: summarizes LDCs’ outlook for the near-term future.