Accelerating Progress of Low-Income Countries Towards the SDGs: Balancing Realism and Ambition in a Post-COVID-19 World

The world is in the throes of a health, economic, and social crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Slower global growth has significantly worsened the economic prospects for all countries, including the poorest ones. Low-income countries (LICs) are also finding it more difficult to service their external debt as well as to access private capital—concessional and non-concessional. Aid flows, which had stalled even before the crisis, are showing little sign of recovering as donor countries confront their own economic reckoning. Policymakers in LICs see difficulties in initiating and sustaining ambitious policy reforms, which had already been flagging in the relatively good times that preceded the crisis. This less-than-propitious context makes it critical that all development partners balance realism and ambition in looking for ways to sustain the progress of LICs towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the decade that lies ahead. Achieving such a balance will require a mix of short- and longer-term actions, and a spirit of global partnership that is much deeper and wider than has been in evidence recently.

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