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Background Paper “Propelling LDCs in the Digital Age: A 4IR Perspective for Sustainable Development”

The least developed countries (LDCs) have followed a fragile and erratic development trajectory since the United Nations created the category 50 years ago. While the rest of the developed world has achieved a remarkable socio-economic renaissance due to rapid technological advancements, LDCs have lagged behind. Despite LDCs having made some progress, core challenges in making decisive progress on structural economic transformation and sustainable development have persisted and become more complex.


These challenges stem from demographic developments, governance issues, poor infrastructure, and a slow capital accumulation rate leading to malnutrition, rising inequalities, persistent poverty, and accelerated urbanization. To inform the   9th Ministerial Conference of the LDCs and serve as the last global precursor of the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (UN LDC5), UNIDO approached TIV to author a Background Paper on the advantages of emerging technologies underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution to rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic, achieve the SDGs, and bridge the digital divide.


The paper provides valuable insights into the utilization of 4IR technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Blockchain, Drones, the Internet of Things and Big Data, and Cloud Computing) and their current applications across the globe, especially for the developing nations. TIV’s experts elaborated on the necessary prerequisites to Innovation-based development concepts in the Digital Era and how to integrate and even retrofit novel technologies in the context of developing countries. An analysis of the existing problems was conducted, including LDCs’ two digital divides (access to technology and use of technology) that negatively impact the process of technology absorption; and how LDCs can effectively move towards a knowledge economy.

TIV’s background paper serves as a call for action against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending concerns related to climate change. It aims to promote discussion and inform the Ministerial Declaration, mainstreaming the Doha Program of Action (DPoA). The paper illuminated actionable recommendations in 5 critical areas of inclusive and sustainable development (ISID), which LDCs can implement in the short, medium, and long term as they continue their journey towards greater digitalization.

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