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The UNCTAD XIII programme

Geneva, Switzerland, (29 March 2012)

How the global economy can spread its benefits more inclusively and sustainably, creating jobs and raising living standards for poor people and nations, will be a focus of the thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII).

The week-long quadrennial meeting will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 21 to 26 April 2012. Opening the conference will be His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, The Emir of Qatar. Among other Heads of State scheduled to attend are Their Excellencies Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey; John Evans Atta Mills, President of Ghana; Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia; and Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Also present will be government ministers, academic and economic experts, representatives of the private sector, members of non-governmental organizations, and journalists.

The theme of the conference is Development-centred globalization: Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development.

Several events will be staged in Doha just prior to the Conference, including the third World Investment Forum (20–22 April), which consists of twelve high-level sessions, reflecting its status as the global centre of debate for the international investment community. The Forum’s 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 sovereign wealth funds. The World Investment Forum will attract Heads of State, ministers, and government officials from the 194 member States of the United Nations, as well as global CEOs and senior corporate figures including Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board of Nestlé, Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and CEO of Total, and Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The first Global Services Forum (19 April) will bring together experts from government, business and academia to discuss developments in an economic sector that accounts for 50 per cent of the gross domestic product of developing countries. And a Civil Society Forum will open on 17 April and continue until the second-to-last day of UNCTAD XIII. Some 400 representatives of over 130 non-governmental organizations are expected to attend.

UNCTAD XIII will be the first of UNCTAD’s quadrennial conferences to be held in the Arab world. The gathering is timely, as it takes place amid the major transformations under way in the region since 2011. Among the driving forces behind the ongoing changes, there are issues of income inequality, job creation, and women’s role in development – all topics to be discussed at the Conference.

A high-level debate on 21 April will see Heads of State and Government discussing the topic “In the wake of the global economic crisis: New opportunities for economic growth with social equity.

On 18 April, a regional workshop will be held on competition law enforcement in the Gulf region.

The session on 23 April will feature the High-level Event on Women in Development, under the direction of Her Highness the Sheikha of Qatar. That evening, the third UNCTAD/Empretec Women in Business Awards will be presented, to women entrepreneurs who have founded successful enterprises and created jobs in developing countries.

Among the publications to be launched are UNCTAD’s Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures 2012, to be presented on the afternoon of 21 April, and a special compendium entitled Trade and Development Report, 1981–2011: Three Decades of Thinking Development to be presented on the afternoon of 23 April.

In addition, a new report entitled Commodities and Development will be launched on 23 April, during a special event on “Natural gas as an engine of growth”. The theme of the report is “Perennial problems, new challenges, and evolving perspectives.

UNCTAD’s quadrennial conferences feature intensive discussion of the global economic situation and trends in trade, investment, and finance – especially as they affect developing countries. In addition, UNCTAD’s work programme and the broad direction and focus of its undertakings are set, for four-year periods. Negotiations on the work programme have been under way since 3 February in Geneva, and will continue at sessions of the conference’s Committee of the Whole.

The Chairman of the Qatar National Coordinating Committee for UNCTAD XIII is His Excellency Dr. Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 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.


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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 roundtables based on the four sub-themes of UNCTAD XIII. And there will be cultural events and ministerial gatherings.

An Innovation and Technology Day, in partnership with the Qatar Foundation, will be held on 24 April. Leading technology and global business innovators will engage policymakers and a wide-ranging audience in discussions about policies that work in generating growth and development through innovation. They also will discuss practical ways in which technology and innovation can help solve key economic and social challenges confronting developing countries.

The United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity will meet on 21 April. This group serves to coordinate United Nations teamwork on vital international issues: in this case, enhancing the productive capacities of developing countries – that is to say, improving their abilities to produce tradable goods of greater variety and greater sophistication so that economic growth is more stable and greater numbers of jobs are created.

The annual general assembly of theGlobal Network of Exim (Export and Import) Banks and Development Finance Institutions(G-NEXID)will take place on 20 April. G-NEXID provides financial services to spur and sustain the rapidly expanding trade between developing countries, which is also referred to as “South–South” trade.

The ministerial sessions taking place before and during the Conference will include the Least Developed Countries Ministerial on 19 April; a special session of African Trade Ministers, co-organized with the African Union, on 20 April; the Group of 77 Ministerial on 21 April; and the Landlocked Developing Countries Ministerial on 23 April.

There will be numerous panel discussions during UNCTAD XIII. The topics covered will include:

Trade and poverty reduction: the missing links) (22 April)

Debt crisis prevention and management (22 April))

Reflections on the international trading system and inclusive development (24 April)

– Paving the way for sustainable freight transport (25 April)

– The least developed countries and the emerging economies (co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat) (25 April)

– The future international agenda on non-tariff measures (25 April)

The creative economy for development (26 April)

- Development banks (26 April)

– Information and communication technology for knowledge sharing (26 April), and, in addition:

A panel discussion entitled “Sustaining the Palestinian economy under occupation: The role of Arab cooperation” will be held on 19 April, in advance of the Conference.

Ministerial round tables

Four high-level round table debates are scheduled, one for each of the UNCTAD XIII sub-themes:

– Round table 1, on the sub-theme: Enhancing the enabling economic environment at all levels in support of inclusive and sustainable development(10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 22 April)

The global financial crisis revealed governance and economic policy flaws at international and national levels, which created an unprecedented boom-and-bust process and widening income inequality. The round table will discuss ways in which the risks of a new recession can be prevented in the short run, as well as measures to address the roots of the global financial crisis, which will require structural reforms, particularly in national and international financial systems.

– Round table 2, on the sub-theme:Promoting investment, trade, entrepreneurship and related development policies to foster sustained economic growth for sustainable and inclusive development (3 p.m. to 6 p.m., 22 April)

As the global economic crisis plays out, there is a need for new investment and enterprise frameworks that effectively serve the objectives of sustainable development and inclusive growth. The ministerial round table will identify possible ways to address this need and will provide guidance for a new generation of investment and enterprise policies.

– Round table 3, on the sub-theme: Strengthening all forms of cooperation and partnership for trade and development, including North–South, South–South and triangular cooperation(9 a.m. to 12 noon, 24 April)

Concerted national, regional and international actions can strengthen the impact of trade on inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. The round table will debate how such cooperation and partnerships should be mobilized, supported, and more effectively channelled, so that the international trading system and international trade in goods, services and commodities contributes to broad progress, improved productive capacities, and higher living standards in developing countries.

– Round table 4, on the sub-theme: Addressing persistent and emerging development challenges as related to their implications for trade and development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development(9 a.m. to 12 noon, 25 April)

The expansion of developing countries’ productive capacities is seen as a way to create jobs, ensure steadier economic growth, and broadly raise living standards. But such structural transformation requires action on a number of fronts, including improving technological capacities, fostering industry, dealing with energy needs, and addressing environmental concerns such as climate change. Such issues are especially pressing in the world’s least developed countries.

Previous UNCTAD conferences

The following is a list of the Organization’s quadrennial conferences extending back to UNCTAD’s founding in 1964: 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 de Indias, 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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For more information, please contact:

​​UNCTAD Communications and Information Unit
T: +41 22 917 5828
T: +41 79 502 43 11


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