Over the past decades, middle-income counties (MICs) made a significant contribution to global development through their growth rates, accompanied by progress in their social spheres. They are the fastest growing group of countries, both in terms of population and key economic and human development indicators, with a share of more than 30% of global manufactured value added. However, there are great differences among and within MICs, best illustrated by the fact that they host more than 70% of the world’s poorest people – a great contrast to the macroeconomic successes of the recent years. Differences also exist as regards MICs conceptualization and classification as well as the dependence on official development assistance (ODA), while economic development and environmentally sustainable paths of industrialization are still a significant constraint. Support to increase productive capacities and boost private sector development, in particular through substantively investing into human capital and local knowledge centres, is certainly necessary in most MICs, far beyond the initial transition from low to middle-income status. This set of facts has significant implications for the proposed elaboration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the related context of the post-2015 global development agenda.
It is in this context that the Government of Costa Rica organized the High-Level Conference of MICs in June 2013. The conference had the support of UNIDO as facilitator through its initiative Networks for Prosperity.