Press Releases

    19 June 2002


    GENEVA, 17 June (UN Information Service) -- Extreme poverty in the world’s 49 least developed countries is getting worse, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) Least Developed Countries Report 2002. The Report’s new estimates show that if current trends persist, the number of people living on less than $1 a dollar will rise from 307 million to 420 million by 2015.

    The Report identifies the close link between extreme poverty and primary commodity dependence, asserting that the poverty trap ensnaring the least developed countries is reinforced by international trade and finance relationships.

    Based on its new analysis of how extreme poverty falls as private consumption rises, UNCTAD also pinpoints a hitherto unrecognized opportunity for rapid poverty reduction. Doubling average household income through sustained economic growth could slash the percentage of the population subsisting on less than $1 day from 65 per cent to 20 per cent.

    At a time when many governments are busy preparing poverty reduction strategies, UNCTAD is calling both for new national policies to increase investment, exports and productive capacity and for a more supportive international environment.

    The main launch of the Least Developed Countries Report 2002will be at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, at a press conference to be given by UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero on Tuesday, 18 June, at 12 p.m. Other press conferences, organized in close collaboration with UN Information Centres and offices of the UN Development Programme, will be held in Berlin, Capetown, Copenhagen, Cotonou, Dakar, Dhaka, Lisbon, London, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Paris and Tokyo. Details on these events can be found on the UNCTAD Web site,

    The Least Developed Countries Report 2002 is currently available in its entirety in English only, and will soon be issued in French; the Overview, which is part of the Report, is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The three press releases have been translated into French, German and Japanese; selected press releases will also be available in Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish. The Report, the Overview and the press releases in all the available languages will be posted on the UNCTAD Web site upon expiration of the embargo.

    For more information or for a copy of the Report, please contact Erica Meltzer, Press Officer, tel: +41 22 907 5365/1646, or Alessandra Vellucci, Information Officer, tel.: +41 22 907 4641/1646, fax: +41 22 907 0043, e-mail:

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