unctad.org | Seminar on Commodity Dependence and Sustainable Development
Seminar on Commodity Dependence and Sustainable Development
21 June 2019
Palais des Nations, Kazakh Room (Cinema XIV), Building A, 1st floor, door A17

Key Issues

In many developing countries, an overreliance on exports of raw commodities, denominated “commodity dependence”, can negatively affect development, in particular increasing the challenges of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. A country is considered to be commodity export-dependent if more than 60 per cent of its merchandise exports are commodities.

UNCTAD estimates that, in 2013-2017, more than half of all countries in the world (102 out of 189) and two thirds of developing countries are commodity dependent.  For reasons that include vulnerability to high commodity price volatility and the occurrence of persistence negative price shocks, commodity dependence can negatively affect development.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires successfully addressing the challenges presented by commodity dependence, such as commodity price-volatility and vulnerability to negative terms-of-trade shocks. Developing countries should add more value to their commodities and diversify into non-commodity activities, especially through a process of sustainable structural transformation. They should anticipate the boom and bust cycle of commodity prices with prudent macroeconomic and fiscal management policies. Finally, they should plan how to convert natural resources wealth into better jobs and livelihoods for their citizens.

Commodity Dependence

UNCTAD assists countries in these efforts of addressing the challenges of commodity dependence. This involves a combination of rigorous, fact based economic research, together with specific projects in individual commodity-dependent countries targeting different commodities, as well as engaging in policy dialogue with member countries.

As part of UNCTAD’s research and policy dialogue efforts, UNCTAD’s Commodities Branch will hold a seminar on Commodity Dependence and Development on June 21st, 2019 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The objective of this seminar is for participants to examine and debate the state and recent evolution of commodity dependence around the world, its implications for development, and to debate policy implications and further research and analysis needs that emerge from ongoing work.

The seminar aims at bringing together those stakeholders interested in the challenges and opportunities available for resource-abundant economies. This includes delegates and other policy-influencing officials from commodity exporting or importing countries, especially from commodity-dependent economies; researchers from academia, international organisations and NGOs working on theoretical or empirical analysis and monitoring of these issues, notably including commodity dependence; and other members of civil society.


Background documents on commodity dependence:

State of Commodities Dependence 2019: https://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=2439 

Commodity Dependence: A Twenty-Year Perspective: https://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=2440 


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Commodities Branch-DITC, commodities@unctad.org, tel. +41 22 917 6286
Rodrigo Carcamo, Commodities Branch-DITC, rodrigo.carcamo@unctad.org
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