The present situation of the Least Developed Countries is alarming and inhumane as the majority of the peoples are still deprived of even the bare necessities of life.

The future we need

The present situation of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is alarming and inhumane as the majority of the LDCs peoples are still deprived of even the bare necessities of life such as adequate food, healthcare, water and sanitation, housing, decent work, energy and education. The international political economy presents a pessimistic image of the current world order. The richest 10 percent of people on this planet hold 57 percent of global income, while the poorest 20 percent has less than 1 percent; this one percent also includes the share of the LDCs. LDC livelihoods, which are already inadequate, are further threatened by the expansion of corporate control over agriculture, forests and fisheries. Productive employment and decent wages are not available for a huge percentage of the LDC labor force, and 40 percent of youth – who comprise 60 percent of the LDC population – are unemployed. These economic burdens are further exacerbated by war, conflict, political instability, violence and women's oppression, which is prevalent in the LDCs. This is the result of a deeply flawed system of injustice, inequity, exclusion and marginalisation that deprives LDC peoples of the universal right to development, peace and freedom. It is all too clear that peace and political stability are prerequisites for sustainable development in LDCs, as development makes no sense for hot spots like Afghanistan, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where people live in constant fear for their lives every ticking second.

The present unjust lives of LDC peoples devoid of rights, equity and dignity must therefore change to one where all can enjoy their human rights in peace and harmony. However, for this change to materialise, it is imperative to make a paradigm shift from the dominant unrestrained consumerist development mindset to one which fully embraces sustainable development – a way of life which truly promotes social equity, environmental justice and the well-being of all people. It should foster an economy that truly respects nature and the commons as priceless – not commodify and plunder it further. Treating nature as capital to be further commodified and held under corporate control will only widen the inequality gap.

LDCs are rich in natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity, and as a matter of fact, this very boon is ironically a bane for the LDCs in terms of being ruthlessly and relentlessly exploited by the rich, industrialised countries and even our own political elites. Many conflicts in LDCs are actually wars over natural resources. Our governments and states must fulfill their obligations to defend the interests and rights of our peoples rather than be used as instruments for profit generation and accumulation at the expense of our peoples.

LDC Watch has been reiterating that the LDCs suffer the worst impact of climate change crisis, despite being negligible contributors to the causes. This is an extreme injustice to the vulnerable peoples of the LDCs. The LDCs harbour rich but equally fragile ecosystems and biodiversity with our mountains, glaciers, deserts, forests and seas. However, the impact of climate change has resulted in increasing desertification, sea-level rise and glacial melting, thus putting both the livelihoods of people and the environment in jeopardy. The evolving climate-induced migration in the LDCs will soon be an additional alarming challenge at this rate.

The rich, industrialised countries bear the historical responsibility for the climate crisis and, therefore, LDC Watch demands the rich, so-called developed countries to fulfill their obligations to humanity. Strong international actions are required to bring about immediate and substantive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and the industrialised countries must deliver on their historical obligation and provide new and additional, non-debt creating finance and technology for people of LDCs to deal and adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

LDCs had the highest stake vis-à-vis the outcome document "The Future We Want" adopted by Member States at the Rio+ 20 Summit. Nonetheless, the outcome ironically failed "the future we want" of the entire people of this planet. In fact, our future has been compromised simply due to a crisis of visionary leadership and political will. Lack of new vision and commitments have only reinforced the status quo on how the international community is to actually pave the way toward sustainable development. Simply reaffirming past Rio commitments made 20 years ago, which have been far short of implementation, is no claim for success of Rio+20. The UN Secretary-General had called it a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" and we have indeed missed this opportunity. The international community must realise that this planet and its most vulnerable and marginalised people in the LDCs urgently need a concrete roadmap and accompanying actions to safeguard their very survival, not the business-as-usual commitment – a recycling of the past – that we have witnessed.

The current development paradigm is not in favour of sustainable development, especially for the LDCs. This therefore urgently calls for keeping the LDCs at the centre stage, especially in the context of the upcoming Millennium Development Goals review in 2013 and the Istanbul Programme of Action review in 2015, as well as beyond. The integration of the IPoA into the global development framework is essential to strengthen the political will, shared responsibility and mutual accountability of both our governments and development partners. The people of LDCs demand action in terms of implementation and delivery of commitments. And, to start with, all aid commitment to LDCs must be fulfilled at the earliest to meet LDC development challenges. In a world of over-production and over-consumption, where global military spending amounts to $1.6 trillion and more, we LDC peoples refuse to accept that the promised – and obligatory – aid delivery is not possible.

This article is based on the statement presented by Dr. Arjun Karki, International Coordinator of LDC Watch, at Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Published in The Kathmandu Post