21- 22 June 2017
The regional consultation of West African LDCs on graduation from LDC Criteria in reference to the IPoA and the Agenda 2030 took place in Dakar, Senegal on 21 and 22nd June 2017. Representatives from CSOs and progressive experts of West African Least Developed Countries (LDCs) participated in the meeting. The meeting focused on four thematic areas that are vital for LDCs: Poverty, Conflict and Development in West African LDCs, Climate Change and Adaptation in West African LDCs, Agriculture, Food Security and Food Sovereignty in West African LDCs and Trade, Technology Transfer and International Cooperation. The meeting was jointly organised by LDC Watch and ARCADE.
Out of the 48 LDCs, 32 of them are in Africa, and 12 of them are in West African Countries. Like all LDCs they are rich in natural resources but are stigmatised with severe poverty. A wide range of problems including armed conflicts, unfair global trade system and climate change have inhibited these countries from developing as per their potential. Ms Fekitamoeola Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of UN-OHRLLS expressed her appreciation and support for the regional consultation by sending her written message. She highlighted the role of CSOs saying, “Promoting the participation and contribution of civil society, particularly from the LDCs, in regional and global deliberations raises awareness in development challenges and opportunities in the most vulnerable countries, therefore contributing to the formulation of effective responses.”
Mr Gauri Pradhan, International Coordinator of LDC Watch gave the keynote speech where he emphasised on the need to integrate the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action with Agenda 2030 along with other development goals. He talked about the need democracy, peace and stability for the LDCs to foster and the role of the states in bringing about the same.
Mr Demba Moussa Dembele, President of ARCADE, talked about the need for LDCs to have a strong presence in the international development platforms and for this LDCs need to have a united voice. He emphasised on the urgent need for LDCS to improve their negotiating capacity in order to have their concerns reflected in international agreements.
A 20 point declaration was adopted at the end of the consultation. It highlights major issues, concerns and demands of West African LDCs from the CSOs’ perspective. It urges all stakeholders to pay special attention to West African LDCs since they are in post-armed conflict transitional period, a very sensitive phase for countries. Conflicts have been the main reason because of which these countries are not being able to come out of poverty. These countries need to invest heavily in peace-keeping in order to prevent relapse into conflict situations. The declaration urges Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union and the rest of the international community to extend adequate and appropriate assistance to West African LDCs in finding viable resolutions to prevent conflicts, protect people from natural disasters and overcome growing public health challenges.
It calls upon the international development community to fulfil their pledges of assisting LDCs to tackle various manifestations of climate change through monetary or technical assistance. It sternly denounces the neoliberal trade regime under which the smallholder farmers and their products are disadvantaged. It emphasises the importance of enhancing intra-regional trade as it is the key to sustainable development and particularly for food security.The regional blocs in Africa should work together to enhance intra-Africa trade and reduce and eventually eliminate non-trade barriers to create African Common Market in future promote fair trade for LDCs.
It urges the West African LDC governments and the development partners to develop national strategies that are and time-bound and result-oriented while taking into account the effective implementation of the IPoA, SDGs 2030, Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction and Paris Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The consultation ended with Mr Pradhan congratulating the participants for their active participation in the consultation and urged them to take the combined mission of graduating from LDC criteria ahead with the spirit of solidarity.