Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA)

Uganda joined the rest of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to sign and ratify the Istanbul Programme of Action 2011-2020 which was adopted by the Fourth United Nations (UN) Conference held in May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.  The overall goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) is to overcome the structural challenges faced by LDCs in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable eventual graduation from the LDC country category by 2020.


The IPoA identifies eight interlinked priority areas that LDCs are to focus on as follows: Productive capacity, Agriculture, food security and rural development, Trade, Commodities, Human and social development, Multiple crises and other emerging challenges, Mobilising financial resources for development and capacity-building; and Good governance at all levels.


Under this framework, the identification of LDCs is based on three criteria as below;

  1. Income Criterion (IC), based on a three-year average estimate of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita for the period 2011-2013 using the World Bank Atlas method under $1,035 for inclusion, above $1,242 for graduation based on where countries are by the 2015 triennial review. 
  2. Human Assets Index (HAI), based on indicators of: (a) nutrition: percentage of population undernourished; (b) health: mortality rate for children aged five years or under; (c) education: the gross secondary school enrolment ratio; and (d) adult literacy rate. 
  3. Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), based on indicators of: (a) population size; (b) remoteness; (c) merchandise export concentration; (d) share of agriculture, forestry and fisheries; (e) share of population in low elevated coastal zones; (f) instability of exports; (g) victims of natural disasters; and (h) instability of agricultural production.


To become eligible for graduation, a country must reach threshold levels for graduation for atleast two of the aforementioned three criteria, or its GNI per capita must exceed at least twice the threshold level ($2,484 in the 20145-triennial review), and the likelihood that the level of GNI per capita is sustainable must be deemed high.


Uganda is still classified as an LDC. However, a number of strategies are being implemented to enable the country graduate to middle income status as highlighted in the Uganda case study report in progress towards meeting the IPOA thresholds.


Uganda participated in the High-Level Conference for LDCs in November 2019, where it presented progress achieved over implementation of the IPoA decade.


As the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (IPoA) drew to a close in 2020, the first part of the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 17th March 2022, the second part will take place in Doha, Qatar from 5th-9th March 2023. The first part of the LDC5 aimed to set a new and ambitious development agenda for the world’s most vulnerable countries (Least Developed Countries) such as Uganda. These countries were severely hit by the adverse impacts of COVID-19 owing to the fragility of their health systems, limited access to vaccines and social protection systems, and vulnerability to external shocks.

The Conference availed an opportunity for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to gather and discuss the adoption of the next Programme of Action (2021-2030), building on the lessons learned from the implementation of the previous Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), (2011-2020). Additionally, with the expiry of Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), LDC5 gathered leaders at the highest-level including Heads of State and other Government officials to address current challenges, gain international support, foster partnerships to achieve the transformational change capable of redressing long-standing inequalities and marginalization, in order to be able to progress towards sustainable development and attain the 2030 Agenda.


The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) during the first part of the fifth UN Conference on LDCs, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Doha Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries following the conclusion of the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2021. This Programme of Action contains six key areas of action that LDCs and other Member States as well as other relevant stakeholders agreed to implement to support their national efforts towards smooth graduation in the next 10 years.


The key focus areas for action include: (i) Investing in people in least developed countries: eradicating poverty and building capacity to leave no one behind; (ii) Leveraging the power of science, technology, and innovation to fight against multidimensional vulnerabilities and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; (iii) Supporting structural transformation as a driver of prosperity; (iv) Enhancing international trade of least developed countries and regional integration; (v) Addressing climate change, environmental degradation, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and building resilience against future shocks for risk-informed sustainable development; (vi) Mobilizing international solidarity, reinvigorated global partnerships and innovative tools and instruments: a march towards sustainable graduation.


In September, 2022, United Nations through the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) organized the 2022 Ministerial meeting of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the sidelines of the 77th  United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). During the meeting, LDCs and their development partners affirmed that LDCs have been affected most by the cascading crises of COVID-19 and the conflict in Ukraine in addition to the effects of climate change. Notably, their hard-won development gains have been reversed. Strong calls to urgently address the food, energy and financial crisis in LDCs were made to reverse the devastating effects on poverty and hunger.


Therefore, it was concluded that strengthened partnerships with concrete initiatives need to be announced at the LDC5 Conference in Doha in March 2023, which will be hosted by the State of Qatar. Member States, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Youth and Academia need to work together to make opportunities for the people in LDCs a reality. Only if the international community works together in support of LDCs can the goal to leave no one behind be achieved.