Over the past 50 years (since 1971), more countries have regressed into the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) category than graduated out of it, a trend that Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente believes can be backpedaled with the right commitment and consistent resolute efforts by all. The Premier made the call during the UN conference on the least developed countries in Doha, Qatar. The fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) is an opportunity to accelerate sustainable development in the places where international assistance is needed the most and to tap the full potential of the LDCs helping them make progress on the road to prosperity. The five-day conference aims to usher in a new global partnership to ensure that the 46 least developed countries benefit from social, economic and environmental development. ALSO READ: Era of broken promises must end now – UN boss Under the theme, from potential to prosperity, Ngirente joins fellow leaders from developing countries as well as leaders of the developed countries. He said that it is high time that leaders turn the potential that exists at the global level, in respective countries and in populations into prosperity for all. Ngirente said: “The level of scientific knowledge and technological progress at global level is unprecedented. Our planet's natural wealth is a reservoir of untapped potential, same as the many endowments in our countries, including natural ones.” “The innovative and creative potential of our populations, including our youth, often underutilized, misused and or wasted is waiting for opportunities to bloom.” According to Ngirente, these are all facets of the huge potential that exist and when not adequately used for prosperity turns into a curse for the world's LDCs. “There are certainly lessons to be learned on the factors of regression including weak governance, conflicts, shocks of various types, including health and climate-related, unfair international trade practices and biased global financial architecture.” Hope in prospect But, he said, there are also cases of countries that graduated, and the most recent past, as well as projections for the next couple of years, tell us that there is more prospect of graduation nowadays. Again, Ngirente said, we can learn lessons from those countries that graduated or are on the way to graduation. “These lessons, if replicated at scale, should turn into graduation of more countries. We don't want to and cannot afford to be in the LDCs category forever.” Ngirente pointed out that, no country, no responsible government, no population can and should accept to keep suffering from poverty, all kinds of deprivation, vulnerabilities and lack. “Not even achieving the minimum standards of living any human being could hope for. We need to make graduation happen in as many countries as possible in our lifetime. During this decade. Those countries that have or are graduating show us that it is possible. With the right commitment and consistently resolute efforts by all.” Rwanda progressing The Premier noted that Rwanda has over the last two decades and half, made more progress than ever before. For instance, he said, the country recorded growth of about 8 percent, more than tripling income per capita. “We managed to almost halve poverty from 78 percent in 1995 to 38 percent in 2017.” Income per capita, despite being still very low, has also more than tripled over those years, he said. Rwanda resolutely invested in the health, education and wellbeing of the people, significantly reducing maternal and child mortality and increasing life expectancy at birth. “The progress of the last decades has given our people hope for a better future, where we reach the living standards of middle income countries soon and better towards the end of this decade. We achieved this with the support of partners. We are resolutely working towards graduation.” “For this reason, we see the adoption of the Doha Programme of Action, with its focus areas, as a giant step in the right direction. But it is not sufficient alone. Other Programmes of Action were adopted in the past without the results we all longed for.” The Doha Programme of Action includes a set of actions for the period 2022-2031, with a new generation of renewed and strengthened commitments between the least developed countries and their development partners, including the private sector, civil society, and governments at all levels. Untapped potential The situation today is such that there is a lot more potential than ever before, including the potential return of investing in people, the potential return of fairer global trade and the one of regional integration. Ngirente also talked about the potential return of sharing scientific advancements and transferring technological knowledge, the potential for demographic dividend in many LDCs, and the potential of sustainable urbanization. “It is definitely possible to graduate many more countries, if not all over the current decade of action. With strong commitment, working together, we will certainly achieve what we aim for. So let's commit and let’s act together.” Data from the UN indicates that as much as 14 percent of the global population lives in the world’s LDCs. This is despite the LDCs accounting for only 1.3 per cent of the global gross domestic product and one in three people in LDCs still lives in extreme poverty. This, experts say, makes them one of the planet’s greatest untapped resources and a clear battleground for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.