A high-level event on 13 June organised by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Independent Expert Group (IEG), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the ESRC STEPS Centre will explore how the LDCs can seize opportunities presented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to forge alternative development pathways.
With extreme poverty in these vulnerable countries set to worsen over the next 15 years the LDCs face enormous development challenges.
Not tied to the polluting production systems and unsustainable consumption patterns of heavily industrialised countries, the LDCs have the opportunity to transition towards human and economic development that is fairer, greener and more sustainable.
Platform for leading thinkers and specialists
The one-day event in London provides a platform for thought leaders and development specialists from the LDCs to explore how global efforts to achieve the 17 goals can catalyse ideas and plans to drive rapid transformation. Participants will also exchange ideas on how these countries can exploit different funding options to support their development.
The meeting will include sessions on inclusive urbanisation and sustainable energy transitions for low carbon futures, as well as a round table debate on the politics of the transformations at the heart of the SDG agenda.
“The development of wealthy nations has led to rising inequality, depleting natural resources and increasingly dangerous climate change. These pathways are no longer viable,” says Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh and member of the IEG.
“This meeting will gather development experts from the LDCs to challenge old ways of doing and mobilise ideas for development models that are more inclusive and sustainable. The outcome of the meeting will be a set of solid proposals for the LDCs to take forward in-country as the SDG agenda gets underway.”
SDGs are an opportunity for LDCs
According to Ian Scoones, director of the STEPS Centre, “The LDCs are some of the poorest in the world. They have been subject to decades of underdevelopment, both in the colonial and development eras. Many are highly dependent on external support, and inequalities and deep poverty undermine opportunities for sustainable development. But the SDGs can also offer hope. They offer a key moment for recasting the debate, providing what the event’s keynote speaker, Dipak Gyawali, calls a ‘toad’s eye view’ – one rooted in local conditions, contexts and coalitions.”
“Instead, building from the ground up means generating new futures that are not stuck in the past. In part because of the history of underdevelopment in LDCs, such countries can imagine new directions for development that are not so constrained by existing infrastructures and embedded patterns of consumption and development, as exist in the global north and the new ‘rising powers’.”
IDS and the SDGs
IDS research echoes and supports the focus of this meeting as reducing inequalities, both in and between counties, is at the core of IDS’ aims. There is a pattern of rising economic, social and political inequalities which threaten to undermine progress in tackling the poverty that harms people in rich and poor countries alike. Our work aims to contribute to efforts to reduce these inequalities by providing and sharing new knowledge and evidence that identifies their underlying causes, including working in the STEPS Centre.
- Melissa Leach, director of IDS, who will be delivering a keynote speech at the event on ‘why rethinking development must go beyond economic orthodoxy’ calls for world leaders to take an integrated and sustained approach to development: Watch Professor Leach’s recent short statement on the SDG agenda and the G7.
- The recent blog post by IDS research fellow Gordon McGranahan ahead of the meeting encapsulates some of the challenges that are faced by LDCs with increasing urbanisation on their doorstep.
- The Participatory Monitoring and Accountability (PMA) programme engages with this urgent agenda of the participatory monitoring of the SDGs. In alignment with the ‘leave no one behind’ framing within the post-2015 development agenda, the PMA programme is working with groups of people living in poverty and marginalisation to strengthen processes of citizen-led accountability.
- IDS alumni are also hosting a series of events in ten countries looking at the implementation of the goals in those countries. From Kenya to Nepal, Mexico and Tanzania, each event has a shared discussion theme: How can low-middle income countries respond effectively to the Sustainable Development Goals and are there knowledge gaps and research capacity issues that need to be addressed?
- The Centre for Rising Powers in Global Development at IDS goes further and argues for the global community to take a more nuanced stance on the position that the Rising Power countries have to play in the Post-2015 era. It is anticipated that this meeting will go some length in making concrete proposals on how to harness the knowledge and expertise of LDCs and subsequently the Rising Powers on the pathway to 2030.