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Sunday, 25 December 2011

2011 end-of-year message from the Secretary-General of UNCTAD

This year has seen some major accomplishments for UNCTAD. Our research and analysis focussed our analytical lens on the weakening global recovery and the policy challenges posed, especially for trade and development. Our warning that a return to "business as usual" will be damaging to countries at all levels of development is now being echoed by other international bodies, including most recently the IMF. We have at the same time, particularly through our flagship publications, advanced the debate on alternative policy options in such areas as employment creation, South-South cooperation, renewable energy, international production, and industrial development.

Development policy is about choices and trade-offs. A more stable, inclusive and sustainable future is a matter of political ingenuity, commitment and leadership. This will be tested in 2012 as serious economic headwinds buffet a still fragile global economy. UNCTAD should, to borrow the word of the moment, seek to occupy the development policy debate with bold but practical ideas and measures which promote truly inclusive outcomes.

As a knowledge-based organization, UNCTAD´s value-add lies in not only generating new ideas and solutions but in getting those across to the wider development community. I am of the firm belief that our policy briefs and other recurrent publications have responded in a timely fashion to pressing and challenging development issues. Our expert group meetings, as well as other stakeholder conferences and fora organized in Geneva and elsewhere, such as the Global Commodities Forum, the Debt Management Conference, the World Investment Forum and the Public Symposium, have been very well attended and much appreciated. I have also had very positive feedback on our various training courses which now cover a range of topics drawing on in-house expertise.

All of this is linked to our ongoing efforts to strengthen the institution´s outreach strategy. In this regard, a comprehensive new approach to communications, including a new institutional graphic identity, was launched in the summer and our new-look website will be up and running shortly. I would like to thank the Deputy Secretary-General for his efforts in pushing this initiative forward.

UNCTAD has also enjoyed prominence at many important international gatherings, in particular at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV), which took place in Turkey in May. Some key UNCTAD messages, particularly on the need to build productive capacities and strengthen technological capabilities, figured prominently in the final text. Our activities at the Conference were wide ranging and very much appreciated by participants.

At the fifty-eighth session of the Trade and Development Board in September, member States also highlighted the critical role of UNCTAD in the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020. It can also be noted that for the first time in eight years, the trade and development resolution in the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly was adopted by consensus with several favorable mention of UNCTAD´s work.

We have this year continued our efforts to strengthen other areas of work, in particular on gender and development and climate change. In addition to carrying out research at the country level on the impact of trade policies on women, UNCTAD continued to promote entrepreneurship among women in developing and the least developed countries. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the International Women´s Day in March 2011, UNCTAD launched its third "Women in Business Awards".

We have been active participants in the preparations for the Rio+20 Conference, which will be held shortly after UNCTAD XIII. In particular, we have been exploring the implications of the Green Economy agenda for trade and development, in particular the lingering concern of developing countries about trade protectionism, and to ensure that the transition to the green economy provides mutually supportive elements of a truly sustainable future.


The Conference´s theme of Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development indicates that there is an emerging consensus on a new set of development priorities, principles and policies that can help turn a fragile recovery from the global crises into a balanced and secure future for all.
UNCTAD XIII will have an important role to play in helping to define and promote this consensus. I have set down my own ideas on what this challenge involves in my Report to the Conference and will call on all of you to contribute towards this common effort, which I view as central to maintaining UNCTAD´s role as a leading advocate for inclusive trade and development.

I wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.
Supachai Panitchpakdi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD

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