Least Developed Countries need public and private funding as well as good stewardship to accomplish Millennium Development Goals and develop economically.
With the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Istanbul, Turkey planned for 2011, evaluations are already underway to determine how far LDCs have economically and socially developed, and how far they still need to go. A recent panel at Columbia University--Resource Mobilization for LDCs' Sustainable Growth and Development--offered many perspectives and opinions on how public and private sectors can best engage in funding socio-economic development, and how funds can be used more effectively on the ground.
"I think it [the panel] was very illuminating because it brought into play a policy practitioner's perspective, it brought into play a researcher's perspective, the national, regional, and global perspective," said Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Ambassador, Director of the UN Office for the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, the Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
There was consensus among panelists that foreign aid is essential to the development process and that many wealthier countries have not lived up to their original aid promises. Panelists also stressed that LDCs must not become completely aid-dependent or misuse funds. All panelists agreed that the role of the private sector in development cannot be downplayed either.
The current global financial crisis has caused many LDCs to lose a great deal of needed support from both the public and private sectors. The idea that these countries are at the mercy of a crisis they had no part in causing was a topic of great concern among panelists and participants alike:
"How can we turn this crisis into an opportunity and seek to get better terms and engagements and voices and participation of LDCs in global processes and also how can we get them a stimulus package?" Puri asked. "I think one lesson is that if they [wealthy countries] can spend billions to rescue countries and economies, at least they can spend a few billion to rescue 49 countries from the poverty trap."