Foreword by Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD
The recovery of the world economy remains fragile and uneven. Global growth was 2.3 per cent in 2012, down from 2.8 per cent in 2011. Developed economies as a whole barely grew. Even if recovery in the United States of America picks up pace, a growing number of European economies have slipped into a double-dip recession. Emerging economies continue to act as the engine of the global economic recovery, but their growth has significantly slowed down. Furthermore, globalization is in retreat. As a result, the growth of trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) has lost momentum.
At UNCTAD, we continue to be concerned with issues central to sustainable development. A weak global economy, together with risks related to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, the unconventional practices of monetary policy, and the competitive depreciation of currencies in the developed world, pose unprecedented challenges to developing countries. In addition, fiscal austerity measures adopted by a number of developed economies are likely to prompt wage reductions, raise unemployment and reinforce inequality, all of which may have considerable negative spillover effects on low-income countries. Growing inequality worldwide and the threat of climate change, as well as many other social and environmental challenges, continue to call into question the predominant development pathways and aspirations.
It was against the backdrop of these daunting challenges that we held UNCTAD XIII. Indeed, negotiations in Qatar were more difficult and divisive than at previous conferences. Several times the Conference was on the verge of coming to an abrupt end without an agreement being met. Nevertheless, consensus was successfully reached with the Doha Mandate, which spells out the imperative to both pursue inclusive and sustainable development outcomes and foster development-centred globalization. The Doha Mandate reaffirms and builds upon UNCTAD’s work programme as set out in the Accra Accord and defines the role of UNCTAD for the next four years. It sets a positive signal for the process of multilateral cooperation in our increasingly interdependent world. We owe the success of the Conference to our host, Qatar, our member States, development partners, and, in no small part, to the hard work and creativity of UNCTAD staff.