Eric Overvest: There are at present 46 LDCs listed by the UN and international locations graduate as soon as they’ve reached sure improvement targets.
São Tomé and Príncipe is doing nicely when it comes to social indicators, equivalent to GDP per capita, however is lagging in others, such because the Economic Vulnerability Index, and that is the place the UN offers a whole lot of help as a result of it’s the well being of the financial system that can permit the nation to graduate from its LDC standing.
For instance, we’ve serving to the nation to market itself as a spot that sells natural, high-end merchandise. So, as an alternative of simply exporting cocoa beans, they’re exporting chocolate bars. Natural palm oil, coconut oil, and vanilla pepper are additionally being offered.
Discovering the assets to adapt to the local weather disaster can be crucial, and we’ve been supporting the federal government’s efforts to seek out extra funding for the safety of biodiversity, and protect marine assets. This nation is shifting in direction of the usage of renewable energies; the UN supported the nation’s first photo voltaic park, which opened final yr, and photo voltaic panels are going up on faculties and well being centres.
We’re additionally serving to to develop the personal sector; selling a type of ecotourism that’s built-in into the tradition and historical past of the nation, and supporting small and medium sized enterprises.
UN Information: What challenges might maintain Sao Tome again even after commencement, and the way does the UN plan to take care of that?
Eric Overvest: I’d say it is a mentality shift, from the thought of being depending on overseas assist, in direction of a mannequin the place you might be producing the assets to your personal financial system, ensuring you have got the sources of development to maintain your social safety system, to maintain the social sectors, and to ensure that your nation can speed up in direction of the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It is about assuming your improvement challenges and looking out forward and seeing what we are able to do as a rustic to maneuver forward. So, it places a whole lot of strain on the nation to ensure they’re prepared for commencement.
Linked to that’s the migration problem. Many are nonetheless searching for alternatives overseas, however the human assets wanted to help the event course of are wanted within the nation.
A specific problem for São Tomé and Príncipe, and different Small Island Growing States, is the vulnerability of the islands to the local weather disaster, as a result of we’ve seen floods, hurricane and storms, which may have a really disruptive influence on the financial system. In December 2021, round seven per cent of GDP was misplaced to break attributable to heavy rainfall.
UN Information: What recommendation would you give to the leaders of Least Developed Nations to assist them obtain financial improvement and poverty discount?
Eric Overvest: Make investments extra closely within the financial system and the sectors of development the place you have got the aggressive benefits, the place you’ll be able to add worth, and the place you’ll be able to create extra jobs.
You must analyse your weaknesses and energy, after which develop a nationwide improvement plan. And that requires dedication on the highest stage, political dedication to spend money on these financial sectors the place you actually see the long run development of the nation.
I’ve seen it right here in São Tomé and Príncipe. There’s a actual shift in direction of extra personal sector involvement, and in direction of agriculture that’s not simply based mostly on exporting uncooked supplies. LDCs want to seek out their area of interest and develop it for future development.