Organizational Session of the Preparatory Committee
for the Fifth United Nations Conference
on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5 PrepCom)
New York, 8 February 2021
Mr. Co-Chair, Madam Co-Chair,
The Holy See is pleased to participate in this organizational session of the Preparatory Committee for the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).
The work of the intergovernmental Preparatory Committee, as well as the series of consultations conducted at the national, regional and international levels, are key to ensuring a successful conference in Doha, during which the new Programme of Action (PoA) for the LDCs will be adopted.
Coinciding with the Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development, the next PoA will provide a crucial opportunity to address the specific challenges of LDCs and adopt tailored measures to ensure that they achieve integral development. To contribute to this development, the new Programme of Action should build on the objectives of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) and the lessons learned over the past 10 years of its implementation, as well as take into consideration the new challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This requires attention to four areas:
First, poverty eradication must remain the overarching objective of the new Programme of Action. Poverty rates in the 47 LDCs were already dramatically high before the COVID-19 pandemic, with about forty percent of the world’s poor living in LDCs. The economic and social consequences of the multidimensional crisis caused by COVID-19 are expected to push another 32 million people into extreme poverty. The few LDCs that during the IPoA implementation did make progress in reducing the percentage of poverty are at risk of falling back.
Second, agriculture and rural development remain critical priorities for promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the LDCs. The agricultural sector still employs the bulk of the labor force in these countries and plays a pivotal role in terms of poverty reduction and ensuring food security. Despite the reduction of the prevalence rate of undernourished population in the LDCs during the IPoA implementation, the number of those living with hunger, especially children, is still dramatically high and is expected to increase as a result of the disruption in supply chains due to the pandemic. The contribution from the Holy See to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as part of a new fundraising process signals its commitment to end hunger and malnutrition everywhere, especially in those countries that are most in need.
Third, attention must be given to concrete actions to build the resilience of LDCs to climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters. Agriculture is one of the most climate-sensitive sectors and the LDCs are highly dependent on it, both as a major source of employment and as a significant contributor to their GDP.
Finally, the new Programme of Action must be grounded in the recognition that the ultimate objective of any development activities is the promotion of integral human development. Such development, advanced by common and concerted efforts, includes not only advancing economic development of LDCs and addressing their long-standing structural vulnerabilities, but also, first and foremost, investing in their people and ensuring that every woman, man and child can realize his or her full potential.
Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair, Madam Co-Chair.
 Cf. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, The Least Developed Countries Report 2020, p. 13.
 Cf. UN-OHRLLS, Lessons Learned. Implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020. Preliminary Report.
 Cf. https://www.ifad.org/en/web/latest/news-detail/asset/42200258.