COVID-19 response under the United Nations Development Account

02 June 2020

UNCTAD adjusts its ongoing Development Account projects and co-leads the design of three joint short-term projects to help developing countries alleviate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only puts the health systems of developing countries under stress, but also causes severe socio-economic consequences.

In the face of this unprecedented situation, UNCTAD has worked together with its implementing partners to respond quickly, helping developing countries better address the social and economic challenges caused by the pandemic.

The Development Account (DA) is a development programme of the UN Secretariat aimed at enhancing the capacities of developing countries in the priority areas of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It catalyses the normative and analytical expertise of 10 implementing entities of the UN, including UNCTAD, to deliver technical cooperation activities on the ground.

The UNCTAD COVID-19 response consists of two streams of work. The first stream focuses on ongoing projects under the 10th, 11th and 12th tranche of the DA.

Adjusted activities

Out of the 17 projects in its portfolio, UNCTAD has adjusted the activities and reprogrammed the remaining budget of six projects to assist beneficiary countries to address immediate COVID-19 related socio-economic challenges.

For example, under the project entitled Development policies for sustainable economic growth in Southern Africa, UNCTAD plans to conduct two new studies on the economic impact of COVID-19 in southern Africa and on the possible domestic and regional policy responses.

Under the project entitled Strengthening policy coherence and integration to ensure that science, technology and innovation support the achievement of the SDGs in Africa and Asia, UNCTAD will broaden its capacity-building activities.

It will consider the role of science, technology and innovation policies in addressing the consequences of health pandemics, including by strengthening health systems and building national resilience to pandemic shocks.

This will be the case especially in project countries that are interested in support on science, technology and innovation for COVID-19 and health pandemics.

The second stream of work relates to the development of new joint short-term projects in the socio-economic area.

Five subject areas

The DA COVID-19 response will focus on five subject areas: the post-COVID-19 resurgence of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), transport and trade connectivity, mobilization of financial resources for development in the time of COVID-19, urban economic and financial recovery and resilience building, as well as social protection.

The selection of these areas as the focus of the DA COVID-19 response is in line with the General Assembly Resolution 74/270 on global solidarity to fight the pandemic,  the UN Secretary-General’s report on shared responsibility, global solidarity and the UN Sustainable Development Group report entitled a UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19.

UNCTAD actively participated in the formulation of new joint project proposals. In particular, UNCTAD co-led the design of three project concept notes, namely on MSMES, transport and trade connectivity and mobilization of financial resources.

These projects are demand-driven and built on the comparative advantages of DA implementing entities. They will be implemented for about 18 months (until the end of 2021).

To expedite activities, each project is divided into three phases. The first one, lasting two months, focuses on initial rollout and immediate actions.

Following the endorsement of these projects by the DA Steering Committee and the allotment of funds, UNCTAD has started the implementation of the first phase of activities in close coordination with partner UN entities.