Selected Sustainable Development Trends in the least developed countries 2019

This publication 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 UNCTAD’s The Least Developed Countries Report series’ vision of LDC development through the accumulation and upgrading of productive capacities leading to structural economic transformation.

It is reflected in paragraph 27 of Agenda 2030, which states a 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”.

The publication presents a brief assessment of recent economic trends and progress towards selected targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and indicators in the LDCs.

It highlights some of LDCs’ key development challenges, which stem from the structural characteristics of their economies, but also from their specific terms of insertion into the global economy.

Far from providing a full-fledged country-specific assessment, this document emphasises the 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, 2016c).

The structure of the document is as follows. Section A discusses the performance of LDCs in terms of broad macroeconomic trends and inclusive growth, while section B delves into their implications for economic diversification and structural transformation, and presents UNCTAD’s new Productive Capacities Index (PCI). Section C tackles key trade-related issues and balance of payment vulnerabilities, while section D is devoted to fixed investment and the mobilization of development finance. Section E concludes by summarizing LDCs’ outlook for the medium-term future, while section D is devoted to the mobilization of development finance, through different sources. Finally, section E summarizes LDCs’ outlook for the near-term future.