By Alexa Sabatini
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. The severity of its impact is being felt globally. The LDCs are bearing its heaviest brunt. They have weak infrastructures, and a serious lack of capacity to cope with internal and external shocks.”
-- H.E. Rabab Fatima, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh and Co-chair of the Fifth UN Conference on LDCs (LDC5) Preparatory Committee
Ambassador Fatima’s remarks highlight the drastic consequences the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on LDC countries. Referring to the scheduled process of LDC “graduation” out of that category, managed by the UN Committee on Development Policy, she underlined the way in which the pandemic has upended progress since the last LDC conference, 10 years ago in Istanbul, and its outcome document, the Istanbul Programme of Action:
“Since Istanbul, considerable progress has been made by many LDCs. Four countries have already graduated from the LDC category and 16 others are in different stages of graduation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized these decade-long development gains."