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UNCTAD well-placed to participate in development dialogue and to help address the challenges of jump-starting the global economy

The continuing fallout from the global financial and economic crises requires collective solutions and innovative thinking, and UNCTAD intends to engage pragmatically with member States to achieve this goal, the organization’s new Secretary-General said this morning.

Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi spoke at the opening of the 60th session of the organization’s Trade and Development Board (TDB), the body that guides UNCTAD’s work from year to year.  Dr. Kituyi, a national of Kenya who considers himself “passionate” about development, has extensive experience international affairs and became on 1 September the organization’s seventh Secretary-General.  He described a more prominent mission for the organization, which he said is designed to meet such a challenge “and can be a powerful tool. And such a tool is badly needed in the current, turbulent times.”

Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Minister of Culture, Arts, and Heritage of Qatar, and President of the UNCTAD XIII quadrennial conference held in Doha in 2012, said in a special address to the meeting that the next few years will provide a unique opportunity to “fundamentally redesign” the global approach to development. “We will need to make commitments, take action, and provide resources” to “ensure that the global development system delivers on its promises,” he said.

Elected as President of the TDB was Triyono Wibowo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and other International Organizations at Geneva, who told the session that UNCTAD is embarking “on a particularly important period.”  It is a time, he said, “to reflect on how our conference will relate to the broader global discourse on development.”

Secretary-General Kituyi vowed that UNCTAD will actively participate in shaping international approaches to economic growth at a time when the world “is still far from recovery” and when major changes can be seen in the economic landscape.  He said UNCTAD is well-positioned to be part of an inclusive dialogue about development, and to play an effective role in policy debates, given its highly qualified and experienced economists and development-policy experts, its heritage of development research and innovative thinking, its extensive cooperation with civil society, and the convening power of the United Nations.

Among the important elements of the current global situation, Dr. Kituyi highlighted “the emergence of the global South,” as shown by an increase in the share of developing countries in world output over the past two decades from 18 to 34 per cent.  Last year, he noted, for the first time, foreign investment flows to developing countries exceeded flows to developed nations.

This shift in the balance of the world economy will affect everyone – developed economies, emerging economies, and those countries that remain marginalized,” he said. He said UNCTAD will aim to have direct beneficial impact “on the ground” for developing-country economies.  The organization will be pragmatic, will make its voice heard more prominently in the international arena, and will engage many stakeholders, he said.

He also called for much deeper engagement with member States.  “I will need you,” he said.  “Your active engagement in UNCTAD.  As its principal stakeholders, you own UNCTAD.” Serious thinking – such as that carried out by UNCTAD over the years as it has researched development issues and has hatched innovative approaches – will be critical as new and effective ideas are sought for economic progress, Dr. Kituyi told the TDB.

He told the TDB that he will “claim UNCTAD’s rightful seat at the table where the agenda and architecture of sustainable development goals beyond 2015 will be managed.” The TDB session will continue through 27 September, featuring debates on how best to respond to ongoing global economic turbulence.

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