Day Two: Reframing the Challenges by Saffiyah Coker (A24)

by heatherbarry
Mar 07

My favorite session of the U.N. LDC Conference day #2 was the session “Blending the Public and Private Sectors for Results in LDCs”. During day one of the conference, I attended a passionate Civil Society Forum that addressed the many shortcomings and disadvantages of the privatization of economies in LDCs. The “Blending the Public and Private Sectors” session was hosted by Microsoft and involved members of the World Bank Group. I appreciated this session because of its interactive nature. Audience members—employees from the private sector and public sector could chime in with their opinions and questions. A question that was posed to the panelists and the audience was “What are opportunities for blending public & private for digitalization in LDCs?”. 

The most interesting answer came from a Member of Parliament from the Solomon Islands. He wanted to know how SIDs (Small Island Developing States) could benefit from the sources provided by international finance organizations. He stated that the small size of the Solomon Islands excludes them from achieving economies of scale. His most valued point was reframing SIDs as Large Ocean States. Both the Member of Parliament and the panelists went on to briefly list ways that the Solomon Islands could utilize their expansive ocean mass for research and development. 

Attending this U.N. Conference is providing me with the unique opportunity to witness my courses come to life. At S.O.A.S. (School of Oriental and African Studies) in London this semester, I just completed a paper on the lack of capital markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lo and behold, the same topic was being discussed by humanitarians, financial analysts, government officials, and stakeholders during the conference! I couldn’t believe the opportunity that was in front of me to take my studies and grapple with the reality of the topics. I adored being a fly on the wall while listening to high-level officials in think tanks, governments, and multinational corporations unite in brainstorming how they can better serve LDCs and how LDCs could utilize them. I felt inspired and learned about many career paths I had never heard of before!

After lunch, I attended the “Inter-Generational Dialogue: Young people, keyholders of sustainable development in LDCs” panel. After opening remarks from U.N. officials, inspirational youth activists from all over the world joined the stage. The most memorable point for me was made by a youth activist from a SID or Large Ocean State. She noted that “we don’t always want to be on the streets protesting, we want to be included in these rooms having discussions and strategizing for change.” Seeing people my age on this global stage being listened to by heads of state, presidents, and other world leaders reminded me that no action is too small to be noticed and that young people possess immense power. After this session, the group and I visited the National Museum of Doha for an immersive lesson on Qatar’s history. I can’t wait for day three.