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World's Least Developed Countries Set to Jump Start Transition to a Green Economy

Istanbul (Turkey), 9 May 2011- With their low-carbon profile, rich natural assets and promising policy initiatives, the world's 48 least developed countries are well-positioned to jump start the transition to a green economy, according to a new UN report released today at the start of the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV).

The joint report, issued by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), points to the economic and human development opportunities of a green economy transition for the world's least developed countries (LDCs).

While developed and emerging countries face substantial costs of 'decarbonization', as well as costs linked to retiring inefficient fossil fuel-based technologies, the report suggests that LDCs can avoid these hurdles by maintaining and expanding sustainable economic activities they are already utilizing. For example, low-carbon, labour-intensive agriculture and community-based forestry are sustainable practices that have existed for decades in these countries, and they will be central elements in greening these sectors.

In addition, the report, Why a Green Economy Matters for the Least Developed Countries, finds that new opportunities offered by a green economy will help LDCs meet their Millennium Development Goals.

Structural constraints, including dependence on fragile agriculture, limited access to energy and low economic diversification, which have previously prevented LDCs from significantly reducing poverty and achieving higher rates of development, resulted from investments and policies that undervalued the importance of the economic sectors most relevant to the livelihoods of the poor.

In their foreword to the report, Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UNEP, Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, and Cheik Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and High Representative for UN-OHRLLS, stress that "refocusing policies and investments to target sectors and areas including renewable energy, agriculture, forestry, tourism and enhanced ecosystem services can lead to the economic empowerment of low income populations, be more conducive to inclusive growth and jobs and make a significant contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the poorest countries".

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Further Resources

Download report: 'Why a Green Economy Matters for the Least Developed Countries'

UNEP Green Economy Initiative

Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries


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