Top officials and experts at UNCTAD’s 60th anniversary call for new era of multilateralism to build resilient future

13 June 2024

Trade and foreign affairs ministers and experts tackled emerging challenges in a complex, multipolar global economy, advocating for renewed multilateralism built on solidarity and equality.

Governement officials and experts speaking during the second day of UNCTAD's 60th annivesary Global Leaders Forum
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© UN Trade and Development | A panel of trade officials and experts on 13 June in Geneva, Switzerland, during the second day of UNCTAD's 60th annivesary Global Leaders Forum.

Top trade and foreign affairs officials and experts from across sectors and regions gathered on 13 June in Geneva, Switzerland, to address key challenges and opportunities facing the world economy amid multiple crises and increasing global inequality.

They called for a renewed multilateralism characterized by equality and reaffirmed UN Trade and Development’s crucial role, solidifying its mandate.

The second day of the Global Leaders Forum marking the 60th anniversary of UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) featured an array of voices – from government ministers to tech entrepreneurs, academics and civil society leaders – providing unique perspectives on issues ranging from disrupted global supply chains to digital economy gaps and sustainable industrial policies.

'The new face of multilateralism'

UN Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan closed the day by underscoring the collective resolve to confront these challenges and transform “hierarchical conference tables into circles of equals.”

“This is the new face of multilateralism,” she said. “A multilateralism driven by our own sense of resolution.”

Ms. Grynspan believed UN Trade and Development’s founders would be proud of the bold discourse and unwavering resolve demonstrated at the forum.

Key points from discussions

The day featured five discussions including an array of high-level participants from various sectors and all regions.

Making industrial policy work for trade and development

Experts highlighted the need for regulatory reform, infrastructure development and human capital investment to build resilient economies of the future.

Shaping a digital future for people and planet

Discussions focused on ensuring the digital revolution benefits all, advocating for stronger support to developing countries to build the necessary infrastructure and access the required digital tools and skills.

Preparing for the economies of tomorrow

Participants highlighted the need for stronger multilateral support for developing countries amid economic turbulence and climate change, with emphasis on building productive capacities and promoting economic diversification.

Reshaping foreign direct investment and global value chains for development

The panel explored the developmental implications of transforming global value chains. They highlighted the benefits of regional and continental economic free trade zones and UN Trade and Development's role in supporting developing countries’ efforts to create these zones.

Catching up with development strategies in a world of cascading crises

Experts examined the impact on developing countries of cascading crises, including higher interest rates, inflation, geopolitical conflicts and climate change. They called for stronger technical assistance to help these nations access and harness the latest technologies.

Spotlight presentations

The day also featured spotlight presentations by top officials from governments and the United Nations as well as leading academics. Presentations were given by:

Recordings of the sessions and other media are available on UN Trade and Development’s 60th anniversary website.