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Committee for Development Policy (CDP)
1. An assessment of the situation regarding the principle of “ensuring that no one is left behind” at the global level:

Note: This submission is based on the work of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) on expanding productive capacity for achieving the sustainable development goals (see Chapter II as well as relevant parts of Chapter I of the 2016 CDP report to the Economic and Social Council), which focused on least developed countries (LDCs). Hence, this submission views the principle of “ensuring that no one is left behind” from the perspective of expanding productive capacities. In addition, the CDP has initiated research and analysis on the theme “Leaving no one behind” in its multi-year work programme and will present its examination to the Council in 2018.

Expanding productive capacity is a key element to achieving sustainable development. A number of goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development directly refer to productive capacity (in particular SDGs 8 and 9). Meeting other SDGs and targets (e.g., SDGs 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 16, 17) may also expand productive capacity, whereas expanded productive capacity may in turn impact a number of SDGs (e.g., SDGs 5, 8, 10, 14 and 15). LDCs have lower productive capacity as well as fewer resources and limited capabilities for expanding them than other developing countries. Focusing support on expanding productive capacity to LDCs is a means of ensuring that no country is left behind. This support also needs to be designed in such a way as to leverage national-level efforts to ensure that no one is left behind at the national level.

Despite their increased economic growth and participation in global trade since the turn of the millennium, LDCs have made only limited and uneven progress in dynamically transforming and diversifying their economies. Moreover, in many cases vulnerable parts of the population have not benefitted. Structural change in LDCs has been largely characterized by re-primarization towards (often subsistence) agriculture and mining, very limited industrialization and informalization (which is often centred on service sectors with low, rather than high, productivity). If current trends persist, it is unlikely that the SDGs will be met.

2. The identification of gaps, areas requiring urgent attention, risks and challenges:

LDCs face the challenge of promoting a dynamic structural transformation of their economies while building the necessary capabilities and policy frameworks for sustaining productivity growth across the entire country. In many LDCs, improving agricultural productivity in a sustainable way by overcoming policy neglect of this sector and investing in sustainable agriculture, scaling up research and removing gendered constraints will be a priority, while increasing productivity in manufacturing, natural resource-based industries and tourism is also key in many LDCs.

3. Valuable lessons learned on ensuring that no one is left behind:

There are potential synergies between achieving desirable social outcomes and developing productive capacity. Improved social outcomes can contribute to increasing productive capacity; and increased productive capacity can support improved social outcomes. However, positive synergies between productive capacity and desirable social outcomes do not occur automatically, they depend on policy choices. This includes investments in quality education, closing the gender gap in educational enrolment and attainment, closing the gender wage gap, investments in efficient and equitable health systems and in water and sanitation, support to small-scale food producers, improving employment prospects of women and youth and the adoption of inclusive social policies. Social protection policies need to be in place to shield people from the eventual costs and negative impacts resulting from structural transformation.

4. Emerging issues likely to affect the realization of this principle:

The issues covered by the 2030 Agenda cover the key areas affecting the principle of “Leaving no one behind” from the perspective of expanding productive capacity. However, there are emerging linkages that are critical for expanding productive capacities in LDCs while ensuring that no one is left behind at the national level. This includes, for example, the link between improved infrastructure and livelihoods for local communities, which need to be identified and addressed through benefit sharing approaches and similar measures. Another emerging linkage is between trade and investment cooperation and international tax cooperation. Improved tax cooperation can help LDCs increase their tax revenues by curbing tax evasion and ensuring a fairer distribution of natural resource rents among foreign investors, national Governments and local populations.

5. Areas where political guidance by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is required: The HLPF may want to call upon countries to consider and implement the policy recommendation listed under point 6 below.

6. Policy recommendations on ways to accelerate progress for those at risk of being left behind: Governments of least developed countries could design and implement strategies that aim to simultaneously accelerate economic growth, promote dynamic transformation of their economies and ensure that no one is left behind, that the disadvantaged are not made worse off and that the environment is not harmed. However, countries may need to address potential trade-offs and harness synergies between increasing productive capacity and other sustainable development objectives

The international community could strengthen support measures in favour of least developed countries. In this regard, preferential market access for least developed countries should be retained and enhanced, and aid-for-trade allocations should target countries most in need. These and other relevant measures should support structural transformation, enable building of innovation capabilities and contribute to the broader set of Sustainable Development Goals, including the goals of reducing inequalities and promoting gender equality.