UNCTAD chief offers vision for ensuring a stronger and more inclusive recovery from COVID-19

14 February 2022

Member states express their full support for Ms. Grynspan’s vision for the future and reiterate their commitment to building a stronger and more resilient UNCTAD.


A market seller in Cusco, Peru. © Lidiya Ribakova

UNCTAD-Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan has laid out her vision for contributing to a stronger and more inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and avoiding a “lost decade” for developing countries.

In her opening speech on 10 February to UNCTAD member states during the 71st meeting of the organization’s governing body, the Trade and Development Board, Ms. Grynspan presented how she would revitalize the UN’s trade and development body to better champion the interests of developing countries. Read her statement.

“I will seek to bring a new development economics narrative: one that can amplify win-wins and redirect trade-offs, one that more fully integrates environment and climate change from the development perspective,” Ms. Grynspan said.

She spelled out how the organization would implement the Bridgetown Covenant, adopted by countries at UNCTAD’s 15th quadrennial conference (UNCTAD15) in October 2021.

Transformational initiatives

Ms. Grynspan outlined the transformational initiatives within UNCTAD that will position the organization to better implement the Bridgetown Covenant and all the objectives envisioned by member states.

“I will seek to bring a deeper and more cross-cutting approach to gender, to further enhance our evidence-based research and policy analysis and provide sound and viable sustainable development solutions in all our research areas,” she said.

She added that she would seek to build an organization that is more integrated, more coherent, more coordinated and more collaborative.

UNCTAD would boost its support to member states on the ground, she underlined.

“I will seek to bring a stronger technical cooperation, one that goes to more places and stays for longer, that raises more funds and does more projects tailored to the needs of the countries, that learns more and shares more from the ground up,” she said.

Secretary-General Grynspan also promised to “bring an organization that makes full use and good use of its universal membership.”

She noted that the organization had a team that was equal to the task: “UNCTAD has one of the most professional group of experts I’ve ever met and has the whole support of the great UN system.”

Implementing the Bridgetown Covenant

Ms. Grynspan shared her vision of how UNCTAD would support four transformations envisaged by the Bridgetown Covenant – transforming economies through diversification, fostering a more sustainable and more resilient economy, improving the way development is financed and revitalizing multilateralism.

She said: “We, as UNCTAD, have much to add in a world where everyone is investing in diversification and productive capacities. And many have much to lose if we don’t do it right, if this investment wave again sidesteps the countries that most need it.”

While implementing the Bridgetown Covenant wouldn’t be easy, Ms. Grynspan said, UNCTAD has a programme plan for doing so and a confluence that makes results happen.

“In my experience, results happen when three things take place at the same time – the membership demands it, the context allows it, and the team can do it,” she said.

UNCTAD’s programme plan for 2023 states how it would implement the mandate from UNCTAD15 both at the level of overall orientation and through each of its areas of work.

These focus on Africa and vulnerable countries, investment and enterprise, globalization and development strategies, international trade, and technology and logistics.