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Monday, February 26, 2024

UN deputy chief calls for ‘vision’ to lift middle-income nations

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Middle-income countries face unique challenges and require more international support and vision to thrive despite being the driving force for sustainable development, the UN deputy chief said.

Speaking at a recent conference on addressing development challenges of middle-income countries (MICs), in Rabat, Morocco, Amina Mohammed said recent crises have laid bare inequalities and exposed stark contrasts.

“While developed countries have been able to protect and swiftly support their populations, other countries have been left dependent on the international community and the existing global support systems.”

She said existing frameworks fall short in meeting the complex needs of developing nations.

“The obstacles that persist speak loud and clearly to the challenges middle-income countries face and the opportunities lost for growth, stability and sustainable development,” she said.

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MICs are a large and diverse group of over 100 countries. According to the World Bank, their per capita incomes vary from $1,000 to $12,000.

Perhaps counter-intuitively due to the different classification metrics in use, the list includes 20 least developed countries (LDCs), 19 landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and 29 small island developing States (SIDS).

As a group, they account for nearly one third of global gross domestic product (GDP) and serve as major engines of growth. They are home to around three quarters of the world’s population.

However, their vulnerabilities persist regardless of income level, with 62 per cent of the world’s poor residing in MICs.

Highlighting the diversity and challenges of these nations, Ms. Mohammed stressed the need for a “second generation” of solutions.

“In an uncertain world with multiple and cascading global crises, flexibility, innovation, creativity and global solidarity are needed to secure a sustainable future, not just for the few, but for the global community as a whole, especially for women and children,” she said.

She noted that recovery is lagging in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and MICs are suffering disproportionately from climate emergencies, conflicts and disasters, reversing years of development gains.

Despite the hurdles, the UN official cited the potential for opportunities, provided there is “courage, vision and solidarity to seize them.”

She called for a substantial increase in development finance, recalling the UN Secretary-General’s SDG Stimulus plan calling for at least $500 billion annually for long-term development.

She also advocated for the reform of the international financial architecture, calling for changes that reflect the true economic weight and voices of middle-income countries.

Finally, she urged the adoption of measures of progress beyond GDP to better address the multidimensional nature of sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed urged world leaders to unite and invest in hope, sustainable development and a better future for all.

“The achievement of our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hinges, above all, on your progress and prosperity,” she said.

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