In order to foster the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), from 28 to 31 July 2014 Benin has organized the Ministerial Conference on "New Partnerships for Productive Capacity Building in Least Developed Countries (LDCs)".
The special four-day meeting – which has gathered Ministers and senior government officials from across the world and United Nations representatives –explored a range of concrete proposals to strengthen the ability of the world's 48 LDCs to produce more goods and services and trade in world markets more efficiently thereby accelerating their sustainable development.
"The conference is an invaluable opportunity for governments, the United Nations, private sector and civil society to come together to strengthen and expand multi-stakeholder efforts towards significant and robust partnerships. It is particularly prescient given the on-going discussions on the post-2015 development agenda," said Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
"Development partners should be encouraged to do more by channeling aid to support productive capacity building in the LDCs, leveraging aid to encourage investment flows and facilitating trade and promoting technology transfer in a coherent manner" he added.
Sharing this conviction that strategic partnerships are a key tool in advancing the global development agenda, and as a small-scale multilateral organization that has the LDCs as its primary target constituency, and therefore plays a unique role in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, UNCDF has actively participated into the Ministerial conference.
Addressing the plenary session, Mr. Makarimi Adechoubou, Head of the UNCDF Regional Office in Southern and Eastern Africa, stressed the importance to introduce innovations in development finance to support the LDCs, particularly in terms of financial inclusion and local development finance. "We could and should do more to increase the quantity and quality of financial resources available across the LDCs," Adechoubou said.
Within the Ministerial Conference, UNCDF organized two side events to present its innovative approaches and programmes in the areas of inclusive finance and local development finance.
At the event "Technology, Broadband Connectivity and Financing as Key Vectors for Sustainable Development", co-organized with UNIDO, ITU and WIPO, UNCDF presented its experience to accelerate financial inclusion by tapping on technological innovation. "Technological innovation is opening new opportunities for financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid," said Henri Dommel, Director of UNCDF Inclusive Finance Programme Area.
"Mobile banking helps youth entrepreneurs, promotes savings, access to credit and micro-insurance," he added. "UNCDF has developed innovative programmes to support branchless and mobile financial services in a select group of LDCs and currently operates to demonstrate how the correct mix of financial, technical and policy support can build a robust branchless and mobile financial services ecosystem in LDCs.
At the event "Building Productive Capacity for Resilience", His Excellency Raphael Edou, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Benin referred to "UNCDF's flexible financial mandate and how it allows to leverage ODA to promote innovations in local development finance and inclusive finance".
At the same event – that brought together over three hundred senior policymakers and representatives from across the LDC Governments, international organizations, Foundations as well as the academic and private sectors – Mr. David Jackson, Director of the Local Development Finance Programme Area, outlined the main characteristics of four innovative local development finance instruments introduced by UNCDF and explained how local finance can provide a particularly important contribution to enhance climate resilience, a field in which UNCDF's LoCAL programme is introducing significant innovations. UNCDF took this opportunity to also present some of its UNCDF's financial inclusion programmes, including YouthStart, that fosters youth's access to financial services and the Better than Cash Alliance that promotes the shift from cash to electronic payments.
His Excellency Ambassador Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations, congratulated UNCDF for its work and stressed its critical contribution to the development of the LDCs, particularly in the field of climate adaptation.
The organization of the Ministerial Conference was led by Benin as chair of the LDC group, in close collaboration with the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNCDF is the UN's capital investment agency for the world's 48 least developed countries. UNCDF has a unique financial mandate within the UN system: it provides investment capital and technical support to both the public and the private sector. UNCDF has proven its ability to deliver true leverage on smaller and more risky investments and interventions within its core areas of expertise: Inclusive Finance and Local Development Finance. UNCDF's work on inclusive finance seeks to develop inclusive financial systems and ensure that a range of financial products is available to all segments of society, at a reasonable cost, and on a sustainable basis. UNCDF's work on local development finance aims at ensuring that people in all regions and locations benefit from economic growth. For more information, please visit www.uncdf.org and subscribe for news, follow UNCDF on Twitter and on Facebook.