Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

The group of countries designated as "least developed countries" (LDCs) by the United Nations constitutes the most disadvantaged and vulnerable countries in the world. Characteristics of LDCs include high levels of poverty, structural and resource weaknesses and acute susceptibility to external economic factors, climate change and natural disasters. There are currently 48 countries categorized as LDCs: 33 are located in Africa, 14 in Asia and the Pacific and 1 in the Americas. 

Despite three successive Programmes of Action and notwithstanding the positive developments recorded by LDCs in the recent past, most of these countries are far from meeting the internationally agreed goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and still face massive development challenges. Progress in economic growth has made little dent on poverty and social disparities in LDCs. Hunger and malnutrition are widespread with dire consequences for the large vulnerable populations.

With a view to reinvigorating the pledge in support of LDCs’ development and transformation, the international community met in Istanbul, Turkey, for the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV). LDC-VI, which took place from 9 to 13 May 2011, provided a major opportunity to deepen the global partnership in support of LDCs and set the framework for development cooperation for the next decade.

The LDC-IV conference adopted a comprehensive and result-oriented 10-year Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) and the Istanbul Declaration. The new Programme of Action set an ambitious overarching goal of enabling half the number of LDCs to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020. 

UNIDO has long focused on the specific needs of LDCs in line with the global consensus on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. UNIDO’s strategy for supporting LDCs has been multi-dimensional, ranging from a greater allocation of technical cooperation resources to LDC-specific initiatives to global forum activities focusing on the specific needs of LDCs.