Annual Report 2020: Road to recovery (Highlights)

The world looked completely different in 2020, which for many was a year of hardship and pain. COVID-19 swept across the world like a hurricane, claiming lives and jobs, spawning a massive health crisis and dismantling economies. No part of the world was spared, showing our collective vulnerability and our interconnectedness.

The pandemic laid bare fractures and fault lines that have deepened across the global economy. From widening inequalities that have fuelled popular discontent with globalization to deepening digital and gender divides and uneven vulnerabilities to climate change, COVID-19 emphasized the reality that we cannot ensure prosperity for all without fixing the many fractures staring us in the face.

Despite the monumental disruptions caused by COVID-19, UNCTAD proved to be pandemic-proof by adapting to resource constraints, exercising flexibility, pulling out all the stops to deliver on our mandate using innovative approaches and providing maximum support to all stakeholders, with positive results.

We acted quickly. We shared best practices with member States as they struggled to keep economies afloat while taking measures to contain the impact of the pandemic. We worked with investment promotion agencies to determine where funds were needed the most. We reoriented the focus of our analytical work to offer insights on how to tackle the fallout from the pandemic.

UNCTAD issued timely and regular policy advice on trade, investment, debt management and other issues to guide global efforts to cushion against COVID-19’s onslaught on economies. We convened numerous online meetings with governments and thought leaders, including across the UN system, and redesigned our projects to provide tailored solutions on the ground to blunt the impact of the pandemic.

After hardship comes relief, as the Swahili saying goes. The year ended on a hopeful note, with COVID-19 vaccines promising to bring back a sense of normalcy. As the world takes the first steps on the road to recovery from the pandemic, UNCTAD will amplify its efforts in supporting developing countries to build a better future, together.


Mukhisa Kituyi
Secretary-General of UNCTAD

15 Feb 2021