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UNCTAD 14 programme

Geneva, Switzerland, (01 July 2016)

Shaping prosperity for all and reigniting the engines of sustainable development will be a focus of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14).

The week-long meeting will be held in Nairobi, from 17 to 22 July 2016. Opening the Conference will be the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. Heads of State and Government, ministers, academic and economic experts, representatives of the private sector, members of non-governmental organizations and journalists will also attend.

UNCTAD quadrennial conferences feature intensive discussion on the global economic situation and trends in trade, investment, technology and finance – especially as they affect developing countries. In addition, the UNCTAD work programme and the broad direction and focus of its undertakings are set for the subsequent four years. Negotiations on the upcoming work programme are under way in Geneva, led by Alfredo Suescum, Ambassador of Panama to the United Nations in Geneva, and will continue at sessions under the Committee of the Whole of the Conference. The Chair of the National Coordinating Committee for UNCTAD 14 is Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Kenya.

The theme of the Conference is From decision to action: Moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development. UNCTAD 14 takes place as Governments operationalize the 17 Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders at the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015, and in the wake of the Paris climate change deal. The first high-level event of the Conference on 18 July will see Heads of State and Government discussing the opportunities and challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Several events will take place in Nairobi as part of UNCTAD 14:

  • World Investment Forum (18–21 July). This consists of a number of high-level sessions, reflecting the Forum’s status as the global centre of debate for the international investment community. Its headline events include a world leaders’ investment summit focusing on investment in sustainable development, a ministerial round table on investment policy challenges and a high-level round table on investment and enterprise development.
  • Global Commodities Forum (15–17 July). This brings together experts from Government, business and academia to discuss how to break the chains of commodity dependence and how commodity-dependent developing countries can adapt to the twin shocks of lower commodity prices and shrinking demand from emerging economies.
  • Civil Society Forum (15–21 July). Some 250 representatives from over 160 civil society organizations will share their views on the Conference agenda.
  • Youth Forum (19–21 July). This forward-looking event will serve as a discussion platform to hear the views and ideas of young people on education, more and better jobs and government accountability as the international community works towards the 2030 Agenda.
As the fourth of the UNCTAD quadrennial conferences to be held in Africa (and the second to take place in Kenya), a number of events at UNCTAD 14 focus on trade and development issues facing the continent. On 21 July, the main launch of the UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2016 will take place at the Conference.
Awards to be given at the Conference include the UNCTAD Empretec Women in Business Awards, presented to women entrepreneurs who have founded successful enterprises and created jobs in developing countries (21 July), and the Investment Promotion Awards (18 July). A side event on sustainable and creative livelihoods will be followed by a fashion show under the patronage of Margaret Gakuo Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya (19 July).
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was created in 1964 as the focal point of the United Nations system responsible for trade and interrelated development issues. UNCTAD makes policy recommendations on trade, finance, investment and technology, based on development-focused research and analysis. UNCTAD is also a forum where representatives of all countries can freely engage in dialogue and discuss ways to establish a better balance in the global economy. In addition, UNCTAD offers direct technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, helping them to build the capacities they need to become equitably integrated into the global economy and improve the well-being of their populations.
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Events at UNCTAD quadrennial conferences typically proceed on several tracks, with the plenary carrying on general debate, panel discussions focusing on specific issues and parallel forums being staged on such topics as investment and services. In addition, there will be high-level thematic round tables based on the four sub-themes of UNCTAD 14.
The ministerial sessions taking place before the Conference include the Landlocked Developing Countries Ministerial, the Least Developed Countries Ministerial on 16 July, and the Group of 77 and China Ministerial on 17 July.
High-level events during UNCTAD 14 will cover the following topics:
  • Transforming economies for sustainable and inclusive growth (19 July)
  • Building economic resilience for the most vulnerable (19 July)
  • Bolstering public policies for vibrant and inclusive markets (20 July)
  • Promoting a global environment for prosperity for all (20 July)
  • Making innovation a driver for sustainable development (21 July)
  • Fostering Africa’s structural transformation (21 July)
  • Ministerial segment of the Youth Forum (21 July)
Sixteen ministerial round tables at UNCTAD 14 are categorized according to the four action lines of the report to the Conference of the Secretary-General of UNCTAD. Each round table will have five to six keynote speakers and will feature question-and-answer sessions with the audience.
18 July:
  • Where next for the multilateral trading system?
  • Unleashing the power of e-commerce for development
19 July:
  • Lowering hurdles for trade: Trade costs, regulatory convergence and regional integration
  • A world without least developed countries: Towards a better framework to assist structural transformation for least developed country graduation
  • Road map for recovery: Economic development prospects of the Occupied Palestinian Territory through addressing obstacles to trade and development
  • Women as agents of economic change: Smallholder farming, food security, agricultural upgrading and rural economic diversification in least developed countries
  • South–South mechanisms to tackle vulnerabilities and build resilience: Regional and monetary integration and innovative finance
20 July:
  • Empowering consumers and fostering competition to transform markets
  • Escaping the middle-income trap
  • Looking beyond emergencies: Creating opportunities in migrant sourcing and transiting countries
  • The trillion dollar question: How to kick-start trade and output growth?
  • Reassessing debt sustainability in the contemporary global economy: risks, vulnerabilities, and policy options
21 July:
  • Global Services Forum:
    • Infrastructure services as key enablers of the 2030 Agenda
    • Facilitation of trade in services
    • Multiplying the effects of tourism services
  • Sustainable transportation for Agenda 2030: Boosting the arteries of global trade
  • Fostering green economies through trade, investment and innovation
  • Making trade work (better) for Africa and least developed countries: How to ensure that trade is inclusive and pro-poor
  • Political challenges to globalization: Are we coming to the end of the era of globalization as we know it?
Side events at UNCTAD 14 feature a variety of proceedings:
  • Launch of the eTrade for All initiative
  • Life after accession to the World Trade Organization: Launch of post-accession support strategy
  • Delivering as one: Information session on a multi-donor trust fund for the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive
  • Capacities
  • From trade to sustainable and creative livelihoods: Biodiversity and design – followed by a fashion show
  • Best practices for competition in Africa
  • What role for competition policies in regional integration? The cases of Africa and Latin America
  • Illicit trade: A new global partnership to tackle a rising threat
  • Evidence-based development cooperation and management of South–South and triangular cooperation to support Sustainable Development Goals
  • E-certification: The trade facilitation measure
  • E-learning: Leapfrogging skills development
  • Mainstreaming trade facilitation for regional integration

Two exhibitions, the Global Commodities Hub and the World Investment Village, will run throughout UNCTAD 14 on the grounds of the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where the Conference is to take place, as will a local market.

Note to editors: The following is a list of previous quadrennial conferences extending back to the founding of UNCTAD in 1964: UNCTAD XIII, Doha, Qatar, 2012; UNCTAD XII, Accra, Ghana, 2008; UNCTAD XI, São Paulo, Brazil, 2004; UNCTAD X, Bangkok, Thailand, 2000; UNCTAD IX, Midrand, South Africa, 1996; UNCTAD VIII, Cartagena, Colombia, 1992; UNCTAD VII, Geneva, Switzerland, 1987; UNCTAD VI, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1983; UNCTAD V, Manila, Philippines, 1979; UNCTAD IV, Nairobi, Kenya, 1976; UNCTAD III, Santiago, Chile, 1972; UNCTAD II, New Delhi, India, 1968; and UNCTAD I, Geneva, Switzerland, 1964.


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