unctad.org | Governing body of UNCTAD addresses tackling inequality through trade and development
Governing body of UNCTAD addresses tackling inequality through trade and development
16 September 2014
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi, speaking on the opening afternoon of the sixty-first session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board on 15 September said: "Today there truly is a broad realization by society as a whole that unsustainable economic practices leading to the over-accumulation of wealth are not only unfair, but can bring stagnation and conflict".

Dr. Kituyi was addressing global inequality and how it can be tackled by the global development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015.

"The current proposal for the sustainable development goals, which will soon be taken up by United Nations Members in New York, also reflect this realization with proposed Goal 10 on reducing inequality within and among countries by 2030," he said.

The Trade and Development Board – which oversees UNCTAD operations from year to year – opened its sixty-first session (15–26 September) with the election of Ambassador Ana Maria Menéndez Pérez of Spain as its new president.

The Board's deliberations included presentations by Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Giovanni Andrea Cornia of the University of Florence and Sangheon Lee, senior economist at the International Labour Organization.

Mr. Davies said that inequality between and within developed and developing countries could be tackled by restructuring global economic relationships to allow for active policies for inclusive growth on the part of developing countries in Africa and elsewhere.

Dr. Kituyi said: "The new global economy has brought with it both immense hopes but equally immense inequities. [In the last 50 years] we have seen promising declines in inequality between countries as some developing countries have experienced strong growth and have begun to close the gap between themselves and the richest countries. But compared to 50 years ago, today inequality within countries has risen in a startling number of countries – both rich and poor."

Earlier, Dr. Kituyi told the Trade and Development Board that he welcomed the fact that the emerging post-2015 agenda was likely to include trade as a means of achieving the sustainable development goals.

Dr. Kituyi emphasized that UNCTAD was as such well placed to make a contribution to the "ambitious and transformative" new agenda: "Our research can offer the facts needed to overcome differences, our consensus-building can facilitate dialogue and our technical cooperation can help us to work together to build capacities, particularly in support of the most vulnerable countries."

This sixty-first session of the Trade and Development Board comes at the mid-point between UNCTAD's most recent ministerial conference in Doha in 2012 and its next, to be held in Lima in 2016. That meeting, noted Ms. Menéndez Pérez, will be among the first international gatherings after the planned adoption of the post-2015 development agenda.

It will be essential for UNCTAD to be "poised to act" on the new development agenda in Lima, Dr. Kituyi added. Toward this end, Dr. Kituyi outlined reforms he had taken in his first year in office to ensure that UNCTAD remains fit for purpose.

Additional topics to be debated at the Trade and Development Board session include economic interdependence, development strategies in a globalized world, investment for development, the evolution of the international trading system, economic development in Africa, efforts to help the least developed countries and UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people.

In handing over the gavel to Ms. Menéndez Pérez, the outgoing Trade and Development Board President, Ambassador Triyono Wibowo of Indonesia, said that his presidency had been "one of the most satisfying experiences" of his professional life. As well as paying tribute to the UNCTAD secretariat, Mr. Wibowo appealed for more active involvement by member States in the deliberations of UNCTAD, which, after all, represent the collective development aspirations of humanity.


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