What are Least Developed Countries (LDCs)?
The least developed countries (LDCs) are low-income countries that face significant structural challenges for sustainable development. The United Nations list of LDCs currently includes 47 countries.
Understanding less developed countries
Less developed countries are very vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have fewer human resources than other nations. In some cases, less developed countries are called “emerging markets”. LDCs have access to specific international support measures for development aid and trade that are not available to more developed countries. The United Nations Development Policy Committee (CDP) Secretariat of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs / Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DPAD / DESA) has created measures to help LDCs access international assistance and benefit from it. The secretariat is responsible for reviewing the situation of LDCs and monitoring their progress after graduation from the LDC category.
Key points to remember
- Less developed countries are low-income countries which face significant structural challenges for sustainable development.
- The United Nations Committee for Development Policy has created measures to help LDCs access and benefit from international support.
- In December 2020, the United Nations list of LDCs contained 47 countries.
The secretariat’s criteria for including nations on its list of less developed countries include the categories of income, human resources and economic vulnerability:
- The income thresholds are $ 1,025, which is the three-year average of gross national income (GNI) per capita. The threshold for obtaining a diploma is 20% higher than $ 1,230.
- Human assets are calculated using five indicators, grouped in the health and education sub-index.
- The economic vulnerability index measures structural vulnerability to economic and environmental shocks, with a high level of vulnerability, which indicates major structural obstacles to sustainable development.
List of less developed countries
As of December 2020, 47 countries were on the United Nations LDC list:
In March 2020, the CDP recommended that Bhutan, Kiribati, São Tomé and Príncipe and the Solomon Islands be moved out of the LDC category. This approval was unprecedented, as the committee had never recommended so many countries for graduation in a single review. In the 47 years of the LDC category, only five countries have graduated: Botswana, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives and Samoa. The committee has scheduled Vanuatu and Angola to graduate in 2020 and 2021, respectively.