Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report 2021: Strengthening the resilience of least developed countries in the wake of the coronavirus disease pandemic

The year 2020 marked the end of the Fourth United Nations Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011−2020 or informally called the Istanbul Programme of Action. During that year, the world encountered an unprecedented global pandemic which significantly affected the Asia-Pacific least developed countries (LDCs). The Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report provides a summary of the progress made and challenges encountered by the Asia-Pacific LDCs in implementing the Programme of Action. It also includes an evaluation of the socioeconomic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on these countries and offers perspectives on how the pandemic is likely to affect their progress towards graduation from the LDC category and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The report presents policy areas that should be covered in the next programme of action for LDCs for the next decade to initiate sustained socioeconomic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic and to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. Also, in the report, the importance of regional and subregional cooperation going forward to improve the resilience of these countries in dealing with shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, is reinforced. For graduating countries, continued support from development partners, beyond graduation, is essential to ensure a smooth transition from the category.