UN Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity: Joining forces for a new path of development at the country level

21 September 2021
15:00 - 16:30 hrs. (CEST) /09:00-10:30 hrs. (AST)
Virtual Conference Centre, Bougainvillea Auditorium

The years 2020-2021 marked a turning point in economies worldwide as the COVID-19 crisis put a spotlight on key development issues identified as priority actions for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a “wake-up call” for a more systemic move to a real sustainable economy with a focus on trade and productive capacities. Indeed, to overcome the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic, a renewed engagement is now required to not only provide countries with swift economic recovery but also to propose more inclusive and resilient development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

These issues will be addressed by UNCTAD15, which in the context of the UN reform will require that UNCTAD policy recommendations and related assistance be effectively integrated into the whole UN System’s assistance delivered at the country level.

In this context, the entities comprising the UN Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity have joined forces to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a view to proposing integrated assistance with combined expertise from the cluster’s agencies at both headquarters and country levels.

The event aims at raising awareness on the UN Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity among member States, UN resident coordinators and donors as a suitable vehicle to develop modular technical assistance and discuss the best way forward for well-funded and targeted joint programmes, leading to increased coherence and impact at the country level.  

The event will include a presentation from the UN Resident Coordinator in Comoros, as an example of best practice for the way forward.

Expected outcome

Awareness of the offer of the UNCTAD-led UN Inter-Agency Cluster raised among member States (both donors and beneficiaries) and UN resident coordinators with the aim of developing joint cluster programmes in support of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (UNSDCFs) and securing their financing.


  • Isabelle Durant, Duputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD
  • Francois Xavier Batalingaya, UN Résident Coordinator in Comoros
  • Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, Deputy to the Director General, UNIDO
  • Elizabeth A. Bechdol, Deputy Director General, FAO
  • Ashish Shah, Director, Division of Country Programmes, ITC
  • Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary-General, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, ILO


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Isabelle Durant
Deputy Secretary-General
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Ms. Isabelle Durant, of Belgium, is Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD. From February to 12 September 2021, she headed the organization as Acting Secretary-General before the appointment of a new UNCTAD Secretary-General on 13 September 2021. Prior to holding this position, she served the organization for over three years as UNCTAD’s Deputy Secretary-General.

Ms. Durant had a distinguished career in Belgian and European politics. She held the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transport and Energy and Senator in the Belgian Government. She also served as Vice-President of the European Parliament and Presidency of the European Union Council of Ministers of Transport.

Ms. Durant has a wealth of experience collaborating with civil society and the private sector as well, notably as the Vice-President responsible for relations between the European Parliament and civil society. Finally, Ms. Durant has held posts as a senior consultant on the empowerment of women in local government for the UNDP and as a member of Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region in Belgium.

François Batalingaya
United Nations Resident Coordinator
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Mr. Batalingaya is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Comoros since December 2020. Prior to that, he was the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Central African Republic.

Mr Batalingaya has over 25 years of experience in social development and humanitarian action, acquired inside and outside the United Nations. Prior to joining the United Nations, he led World Vision's humanitarian and development programs in Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia, Uganda, and the United States.

Mr. Batalingaya holds a master's degree in public health from Tulane University in New Orleans, USA and a bachelor's degree from the National University of Rwanda.

Haoliang Xu
Assistant Secretary-General
United Nations Development Programme
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Mr. Haoliang Xu was appointed UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director for the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support by the United Nations Secretary-General in July 2019. Previously, Mr. Xu was UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific since September 2013.

Prior to this, he served as Deputy Regional Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States in New York since 2010; UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan (2007-2010); Country Director in Pakistan (2005-2007); Deputy Resident Representative for Programme, Pakistan (2004-2005); Country Manager and Senior Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Timor-Leste (2002-2004); Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Iran (2000-2002); Programme Manager, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, New York (1997-1999); Programme Officer/Junior Professional Officer, UNDP Kazakhstan (1997-1999).

Before joining the UN, Mr. Xu was a computer-aided design engineer with Louis Berger International Inc. in New Jersey and an assistant lecturer at Tongji University in Shanghai, China.

Mr. Xu, a Chinese national, holds a Bachelors in Engineering from Tongji University in Shanghai, and a Masters' of Science in Management from the Stevens Institute of Technology (USA). He also holds a Masters' of International Affairs in Economic Development and Policy Analysis from Columbia University (USA).

Beth Bechdol
Deputy Director-General
Food and Agriculture Organization
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Beth Bechdol is Deputy Director-General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In this role, she continues her service to food and agriculture – now on a global scale. Motivated by building alliances and connecting people, Beth is responsible for FAO’s Partnership and Outreach work, including Partnerships and UN Collaboration, Resource Mobilization and Private Sector Partnerships, South-South and Triangular Cooperation. She also leads programmes in the area of Plant Production and Protection and oversees FAO’s main technical advisory committee on agriculture, the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) as well as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat.

Before joining FAO, Beth was President and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana, the Midwestern state’s economic development initiative focused on advancing the agbioscience sector and developing 21st century talent.

Beth’s dedication to public service in agriculture and her extensive trade and farm policy experience started in Washington, D.C. where she served in key roles as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as Economist on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Beth was raised on a multi-generation family grain farm in rural Indiana. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in international law and international affairs and her master’s degree from Purdue University in agricultural economics.

Hiroshi Kuniyoshi
Deputy to the Director General
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
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Mr. Hiroshi Kuniyoshi is the Deputy to the Director-General and the Managing Director of External Relations and Policy Research at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) since April 2017.

In April 1984, he joined the Government of Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (now known as METI), where he planned and implemented a variety of industrial and technology policies.

In August 2006, Mr. Kuniyoshi was appointed Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, where he conducted research and education in policy studies related to industry, technology and innovation.

In September 2012, he was appointed Executive Director of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), one of Japan's largest public organizations in research and development. At NEDO, he was in charge of global collaborative projects for the development of low-carbon technologies such as renewable energy, battery storage and smart grids.

In January 2016, he was appointed Head of the UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Office, Tokyo, (UNIDO ITPO Tokyo), where he worked closely with Japanese industries in areas related to technology transfer and investments to developing countries.

Mr. Hiroshi Kuniyoshi holds a Master's degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. in Energy Science from the Kyoto University.

Moussa Oumarou
Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships
International Labour Organization
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Mr. Moussa Oumarou is ILO's Deputy Director-General for Field Operations & Partnerships.

Before joining the ILO, Mr Oumarou occupied many positions in teaching and in public administration which led him to occupy several positions of responsibility within the Government in Niger.

After leaving the Government in Niger, Mr Oumarou started working for the ILO, first as a consultant for social dialogue, then as coordinator of a national project for the promotion of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. He then became Chief Technical Advisor of the Regional Programme for the Promotion of Social Dialogue in French-speaking Africa. In 2006, he joined the ILO headquarters where he served as Senior Labour Administration and Labour Inspection Specialist.

In 2011 he was appointed Director of the Industrial and Employment Relations Department and, during this period, also assumed the duties of the Executive Director of the Social Dialogue Sector.

He became the Director of the Governance and Tripartism Department in 2013 and subsequently Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships on 1 January 2018.

He has authored several publications on social dialogue and labour administration.

His career earned him the decoration of Chevalier des Palmes Académiques (Academic Order) and Chevalier de L’Ordre National de Niger (National Order of Niger).

Ashish Shah
Director, Division of Country Programmes
International Trade Centre
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Mr. Ashish Shah has been working at International Trade Centre (ITC) for 13 years in different capacities and currently serves as Director, Division of Country Programmes. He previously held the post of Acting Deputy Executive Director. He has also spent several years in the Office for Africa and the Office of the Executive Director, where he was head of strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation. Prior to joining ITC, he worked first at the International Labour Office in Geneva and then at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Mr. Shah has more than 20 years of international and United Nations experience in the field of trade promotion and development, during which time he has been providing strategic advice on trade-development issues and engaging in high-level policy dialogue with stakeholders in Africa, Asia and the Arab Region.

He has extensive experience both in operations and strategic planning, broad project design and management skills, strong client-relationship management and negotiating abilities, and a proven track record of delivering targets. Mr. Shah holds a master's degree in cooperative economics and a PhD in economics from Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.



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