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  April 1st, 2024 | Written by

Charting a Course for Sustainable Global Trade: UNCTAD’s Inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum

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Amidst a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges, the inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum (GSCF) 2024 promises to be a pivotal gathering, convening leaders and experts to navigate the evolving landscape of international trade and logistics. Organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in collaboration with the Government of Barbados, this landmark event, scheduled for May 21-24, 2024, aims to shape the future of global trade in a rapidly changing world.

In recent years, the global trade arena has grappled with significant disruptions, ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to the impacts of climate change and geopolitical tensions. These challenges have not only stress-tested global supply chains but have also underscored the critical need for resilience and sustainability, particularly for developing countries.

At the heart of the forum lies an innovation challenge, designed to inspire solutions that foster greener, more efficient, and resilient global production and distribution networks.

Focus on Resilience and Sustainability

GSCF 2024 will shine a spotlight on the indispensable role of global supply chains in driving economic growth, fostering job creation, and advancing poverty reduction, in alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This forum is part of a broader series of events commemorating 60 years since the establishment of UNCTAD, a stalwart advocate for the Global South. Recognizing the disproportionate impact of supply chain disruptions on vulnerable economies, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), the forum will delve into strategies for bolstering resilience and sustainability across global supply chains. These strategies encompass everything from trade facilitation reforms to the integration of digital innovations.

Research conducted by UNCTAD reveals that the Covid-induced supply chain crisis led to a 1.5 percent increase in global consumer price levels, primarily driven by elevated maritime transport costs. The impact was even more pronounced in SIDS, where consumer price inflation surged by an additional 7.5 percent.

Strengthening the Backbone of Global Trade: Seaports

Seaports serve as vital gateways for trade, facilitating over 80 percent of global merchandise exchange. The forum will explore avenues for enhancing the resilience of seaports, particularly in vulnerable coastal nations. Additionally, digital solutions, including blockchain technology, will be championed to mitigate emerging risks and safeguard the sustainability of global supply chains amidst the rising tide of e-commerce and cyber threats.

Global Collaboration and Bridging Gaps

GSCF 2024 aims to foster collaboration among stakeholders worldwide, bringing together policymakers, industry leaders, and international organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). With more than 500 participants from approximately 100 countries expected to attend, and over 100 entities already onboard as partner organizations, the forum promises a rich tapestry of perspectives and insights.

Government ministers of transport will converge to deliberate on a joint declaration, which will feed into forthcoming discussions at the UN’s 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States, scheduled for late May in Antigua and Barbuda.

In Conclusion

The Global Supply Chain Forum 2024 represents a pivotal moment for charting a course towards sustainable and resilient global trade. By fostering collaboration, innovation, and practical solutions, this forum endeavors to pave the way for a future where trade serves as a catalyst for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.