Debate should have broad impact, President
of Trade and Development Board says
Geneva, 21 May 2009 - A two-day UNCTAD public symposium on the global financial crisis concluded this afternoon with recommendations that - among other things - the international financial architecture undergo deep and lasting reform so that the causes of the current worldwide recession are not repeated; that significant international efforts and funding be supplied to stimulate developing-country economies and to support employment in those nations; and that steps be taken to stabilize currency-exchange rates.
Overall, there was a call for an approach to the crisis that takes all nations into account and provides a comprehensive "exit strategy" for all: speakers over the two days of meetings said repeatedly that recent reports of economic improvement in industrialized countries should not be taken to mean that the downturn is over, and should not lead decision makers to ignore the profound and long-lasting effects on poor countries. The crisis was no longer merely financial and economic but had become a social crisis, speakers said.
The symposium debate should have a broad impact, as various international organizations participated and listened to cross-fertilizing ideas, and many national delegations attended to listen to the opinions of civil society and private-sector speakers, said Dian Triansyah Djani, President of UNCTAD´s Trade and Development Board. There were some 360 participants engaging in plenary and breakout debates.
Mr. Djani , who chaired the symposium, cited in concluding remarks that there is a need to accelerate efforts to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals; to address structural problems in global economic governance, "which affect many people, including women and children;" to establish national, regional, and international teamwork to respond to the crisis; and to pay special attention to the effects of the crisis on least developed countries and on mounting unemployment and poverty.
Mr. Djani and high-level participants in the symposium said they will ensure that the formal conclusions are presented to member States, to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, and to the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, scheduled for 1-3 June in New York.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi told the meeting that the intent of the gathering - "to give voice to the voiceless" - had proved valuable. "The rest of the world cannot be an afterthought," Mr. Supachai. "These matters are so often discussed at the global level, by the powerful. The innocent bystanders should be heard from. Before we design an exit strategy for the recovery process, we should see clearly the impacts throughout the world. I don´t think we should be satisfied until we see concrete actions that will address the issues raised today. If the voices of the innocent bystanders are not heard, this could just be one crisis that leads to more crises."
Other recommendations of the symposium were that a debt moratorium should be granted to heavily indebted developing countries so that they have more money available for stimulating their economies; and that a global programme be set up to preserve and protect jobs in developing nations. The proposal of the International Labour Office to establish a "global jobs pact" was mentioned repeatedly during the debate, and it was pointed out repeatedly that the effects of the crisis hit ordinary families most directly through the loss of employment.
In addition, the United Nations was called on to play a significant role in responding to the downturn and in refashioning international rules on finance. The organization´s broad membership makes it best able to act in the interests of all countries, speakers said.
Regional efforts to stimulate economies, provide financing for trade and economic growth, and protect currency stability, also were recommended. Such efforts were characterized as building on the rapid growth in "South-South" trade and related economic cooperation in recent years.
Titled "the global economic crisis and development - the way forward," the public symposium - UNCTAD´s first -- grew out of the organization´s efforts to implement the "one UN" concept and UNCTAD´s stepped-up policy of responding to global developments and broadening debate on global issues.