LDC experts to share ideas on building productive capacity

How can Least Developed Countries (LDCs) progress so they are no longer held back by extreme poverty? A conference next week in Cotonou, Benin, will address this issue, bringing together ministers and experts from LDCs, along with UN representatives and development experts.

Saadia Iqbal's picture
Insight by 
Saadia Iqbal
25 July 2014

IIED, which has long been working with LDCs, is contributing with a session on the promotion of green and blue economy, and a side event on embedding forests in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our work with LDCs has particularly focused on making sure their priorities are reflected in international processes. For example, we have been working to bring LDC voices to the SDGs through our work with the Independent Research Forum (IRF2015) and also the LDC Independent Expert Group, several members of which are participating at the Benin conference. 


The 48 LDCs account for less than two per cent of global GDP and around one per cent of global trade in goods. 

The idea for the conference stems from the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), a document adopted at a UN conference on LDCs in 2011, which addresses development challenges in LDCs. The IPoA identified productive capacity building as both the defining challenge and opportunity for developing countries to progress. Enhancing productive capacity will help these countries integrate in the global economy, adapt and build resilience to climate change, foster inclusive and equitable growth, create decent employment and accelerate poverty eradication. 

The conference aims to find ways to:

  1. Fight poverty and accelerate sustainable development of the LDCs by strengthening their capacity to produce more and better goods and services; 
  2. Substantially increase investment in human resources, infrastructure and energy to transform their economies; 
  3. Foster stronger global partnerships for LDCs for improved trade, better development finance, enhanced technology transfer and increased foreign investment. 

IIED at the event

Session: The contribution of skill development, innovation and technological acquisition to the promotion of green and blue economy

A green economy is one that generates jobs and growth, through activities that use natural resources sustainably and in ways that add value, without compromising the essential services that our natural environment provides. A blue economy is similar, except that the economic activities and natural resources involved are marine-based.

Many LDCs have great potential for adopting green or blue economy pathways, given their considerable natural capital endowments and low-carbon profiles. Managed in inclusive and sustainable ways, these natural resources can yield high returns on investments for LDCs. 
IIED's session on green and blue economy aims to:

  • Examine the concerns raised by LDCs about the green economy concept and explore ways to overcome them;
  • Explore existing examples, and further opportunities, for achieving rapid and sustained growth through: green value addition, scaling up existing green and blue sectors, and creating new products and services based on sustainable use of LDCs' vast natural resource wealth;
  • Identify the skills, technologies and other enabling conditions required for LDCs to build a green and blue dimension to the growth strategy laid out in the IPoA;
  • Identify key directions for joint LDC action on increasing the contribution of sustainable natural resource-based industries to economic development and poverty reduction.

Side event: Enabling forests to score sustainable development goals for LDCs

Natural resources, including forests and their ecosystem services, are expected to play an important role in achieving inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication, given their relative abundance in many LDCs.  

IIED's side event on forests aims to:

  • Raise understanding among participants about how the SDG framework can best enable forests to contribute towards diverse goal areas;
  • Benefit negotiators by helping identify critical elements of the existing framework for retention, as well as missing issues and trade-offs that need stronger consideration.

Organised by the government of Benin, in close collaboration with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), the conference will take place from 28-31 July 2014, in Cotonou, Republic of Benin. Attendance is by invitation only. 

More information: 


Taking a lead on the post-2015 agenda: priorities for least developed countriesTaking a lead on the post-2015 agenda: priorities for least developed countries