Lack of funding is the biggest hurdle facing the 47 least developed countries in the world as they try to reach sustainability targets, the United Nations reported. The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) identifies the countries based on socio-economic development.
The current list of the countries represents 880 million people who account for less than 2% of world gross domestic product and about 1% of global trade in goods, according to the United Nations. In order to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015, the world’s least developed countries need to see more investment in sustainable energy as well as information and communication technology. Inadequate physical infrastructure hinders growth and poverty eradication in the countries, the report says.
A 2017 report on the 47 countries published this week found that the average GDP for them was the lowest rate in the past two decades. At 3.8% in 2015, it was also well below the 7% target set by the 2011 Istanbul Declaration and Programme of Action, which charts sustainable development for the countries through 2020. The total share of trade for the countries also declined.
The report says that, throughout the least developed countries, access to energy is blocked by factors such as the slow expansion of energy supply, high user fees, an energy mix that favors fuel-powered energy plants, and enduring losses in the transmission and distribution of electricity.
There were some advancements, however. Access to electricity rose from 32.3% of the population in 2010 to 38.3% in 2014, according to UN-OHRLLs. In addition, an improvement in the competitiveness of renewable power generation technologies offers the countries new opportunities to increase access and make those technologies more affordable and accessible, the report says. The overall list of countries has changed as well. In June, Equatorial Guinea reached the thresholds needed to graduate from the group.
“While we continue to see mixed progress for this group of countries, there is tremendous potential to close the gaps and achieve momentum toward their investment needs,” Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, the high representative for UN-OHRLLs, said in a press release about the new report.