Skip to Main Content

NEWS: Development - "Vanuatu Graduated! 🍾 Our 5-Minute Explainer"

Title: "Vanuatu Graduated! Our 5-Minute Explainer"

Author: Brett Serwalt 

Source: United Nations (various pages)

Published: January 5th, 2021

Brief: Vanuatu graduated from "Least Developed Country" status on December 4th. Learn what that means in this 5-minute explainer. 



Some good news in case you missed it!

Vanuatu graduated from the United Nation's Least Developed Country (LDC) status on December 4th, 2020. This hard-won achievement comes despite the growing impacts of natural disasters and economic turmoil due to Covid-19. Graduation also brings new challenges for Vanuatu's future. 


Read More in Our 5-Minute Explainer Below: 




United Nations Definition:

"LDC's are low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development. They are highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks and have low levels of human assets." 

The list was created in 1971 as an acknowledgment by the international community that unique support measures are needed. 

➤  Vanuatu was added in 1985

➤  Currently, there are 46 countries on the list.

➤  There are no other UN country categories. 

➤  The IMF has other categories, such as "emerging markets




Committee for Development Policy (CDP)

The CDP conducts reviews triennially to make recommendations to the General Assembly on inclusion/graduation of eligible countries. They evaluate three criteria:

➤  Gross National Income (GNI) per capita.

➤  Human Asset Index (HAI) of 6 indicators in health & education.

➤  Economic & Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) of 8 indicators. 

➤  To learn criteria specifics, click here

Check It Out ➤  Three countries, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, and Zimbabwe reject the criteria and decline to be included in the index. 




International Support Measures

International support measures have been developed for LDCs regarding international agreements, as well as with individual countries and institutions.


For Example





How To Graduate from LDC Status

The country must meet two (2) of the three (3) criteria at two (2) consecutive triennial reviews by the CDP. Graduation thresholds are set higher for graduation than for inclusion as a means of helping ensure graduation is sustainable

Example: Income (GNI) to be included on the list is anything less than $1,018. To graduate, however, GNI must have a 3-year average 20% higher, or $1,222.


Check It Out ➤  Vanuatu's path to graduation spanned 14 years. Extreme vulnerability to natural disasters slowed the process and remains a serious challenge.


Timeline of Vanuatu's graduation


Check It Out ➤  In 1994, Botswana was the first to graduate in. Angola is the next to graduate, in 2021, followed by Bhutan in 2023.




Smooth Transition Period

After graduation, and following a planned "smooth transition period," the country will no longer benefit from the LDC support mechanisms. The implications are unique to each country and may include:

➤  Major exports may face significant tariffs for the first time.

➤  Preferential treatment for WTO commitments will end.

➤  Support measures for capacity-building or climate adaptation may end.

On the Plus Side...

➤  Graduation can boost national pride and international sentiment.

➤  Countries can benefit from perceptions of success.

➤  Foreign investment may increase as perceptions improve.

"Impact Assessments" are prepared for each graduating country and specific tools and programs exist to help countries navigate the transition

Learn more by clicking HERE for the United Nations landing page for LDCs. 

Learn more by clicking HERE for Vanuatu's comparative data for 2020.





Cyclone Harold Recovery Fund





Please Reach Out

I hope you found this brief explainer interesting and helpful. If you have any comments or feedback, I would be happy to hear from you!

Please Email âž¤

Thank you for your continued support of FOV2 and your love for the people and culture of Vanuatu!