Asia-Pacific least developed countries (LDCs) continue to face structural challenges in their development processes. Such challenges are highly idiosyncratic and, in most cases, associated with disadvantages in their initial endowments and geographic features, including remoteness, costly access to international markets,insufficient human, natural and financial resources, and vulnerability to disasters.
Currently there are 12 LDCs in the Asia-Pacific region – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – seven of which have met the criteria for graduation in the 2015 triennial review of the Committee for Development Policy.
The Istanbul Programme of Action aims at overcoming the structural challenges of the LDCs through building their human and productive capacities and enabling their graduation from the LDC category. The overarching objective of the Programme, which received a strong endorsement from the international community through the adoption in September 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is to support the sustainable development of LDCs.
The last five years of the Istanbul Programme of Action will be implemented simultaneously with the first five years of the 2030 Agenda. With 251 actions included in the Programme and 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets in the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that a strategic approach with clearly defined priorities and sequencing of actions is necessary. This is particularly important in the light of the scarcity of financial and human resources that characterizes LDCs.