There are presently 46 LDCs listed by the UN and international locations graduate as soon as they’ve reached sure improvement targets.
Eric Overvest: São Tomé and Príncipe is doing nicely by way of social indicators, similar to GDP per capita, however is lagging in others, such because the Economic Vulnerability Index, and that is the place the UN gives a variety of help as a result of it’s the well being of the economic system that may permit the nation to graduate from its LDC standing.
For instance, we’ve serving to the nation to market itself as a spot that sells natural, high-end merchandise. So, as a substitute of simply exporting cocoa beans, they’re exporting chocolate bars. Natural palm oil, coconut oil, and vanilla pepper are additionally being bought.
Discovering the sources to adapt to the local weather disaster can be crucial, and we’ve been supporting the federal government’s efforts to seek out extra funding for the safety of biodiversity, and protect marine sources. This nation is shifting in the direction of the usage of renewable energies; the UN supported the nation’s first photo voltaic park, which opened final 12 months, and photo voltaic panels are going up on faculties and well being centres.
We’re additionally serving to to develop the personal sector; selling a type of ecotourism that’s built-in into the tradition and historical past of the nation, and supporting small and medium sized enterprises.
UN Information: What challenges may maintain Sao Tome again even after commencement, and the way does the UN plan to cope with that?
Eric Overvest: I might say it is a mentality shift, from the concept of being depending on international support, in the direction of a mannequin the place you’re producing the sources in your personal economic system, ensuring you may have the sources of progress to maintain your social safety system, to maintain the social sectors, and to be sure that your nation can speed up in the direction of the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It is about assuming your improvement challenges and searching forward and seeing what we will do as a rustic to maneuver forward. So, it places a variety of stress on the nation to verify they’re prepared for commencement.
Linked to that’s the migration problem. Many are nonetheless in search of alternatives overseas, however the human sources wanted to help the event course of are wanted within the nation.
A specific problem for São Tomé and Príncipe, and different Small Island Growing States, is the vulnerability of the islands to the local weather disaster, as a result of we have now seen floods, hurricane and storms, which might have a really disruptive affect on the economic system. In December 2021, round seven per cent of GDP was misplaced to break attributable to heavy rainfall.
UN Information: What recommendation would you give to the leaders of Least Developed Nations to assist them obtain financial improvement and poverty discount?
Eric Overvest: Make investments extra closely within the economic system and the sectors of progress the place you may have the aggressive benefits, the place you possibly can add worth, and the place you possibly can create extra jobs.
It’s essential analyse your weaknesses and energy, and that develop a nationwide improvement plan. And that requires dedication on the highest degree, political dedication to put money into these financial sectors the place you actually see the longer term progress of the nation.
I’ve seen it right here in São Tomé and Príncipe. There’s a actual shift in the direction of extra personal sector involvement, and in the direction of agriculture that’s not simply primarily based on exporting uncooked supplies. LDCs want to seek out their area of interest and develop it for future progress.
Eric Overvest is the UN Resident Coordinator in São Tomé and Príncipe. He was speaking to UN Information at LDC5, a serious UN convention, held in Doha, Qatar from 5-9 March 2023.