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  June 14th, 2024 | Written by

UNCTAD’s 60th Anniversary: A Renewed Vision for Global Trade and Development

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In celebration of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the organization’s pivotal role in promoting a more equitable and sustainable global economy. Addressing the Global Leaders Forum on June 12 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Guterres commended UNCTAD’s innovative agenda and its enduring commitment to advocating for the interests of developing countries.

Read also: UNCTAD Advocates for Resilient Global Supply Chains Amid Trade Disruptions

The forum, running through June 14, gathered high-profile speakers, including UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan, and leaders from Barbados, Brazil, China, Comoros, Cuba, Madagascar, Timor-Leste, and Switzerland. Additionally, over two dozen trade and foreign affairs ministers, along with economists, business leaders, and civil society representatives, convened to map out a new development trajectory in response to a rapidly changing world.

Legacy of Advocacy and Inspiration for Future Decisions

In his keynote address, Guterres emphasized UNCTAD’s historical impact on creating a fairer global economic landscape. “UNCTAD’s work has not only created a legacy. It continues to be an inspiration for today’s debates and decisions,” he remarked, praising the organization’s persistent efforts over the past six decades to champion a more inclusive global trading system that promotes economic growth, reduces poverty, and fosters social progress.

Addressing Contemporary Global Challenges

Guterres also addressed the pressing challenges faced by developing countries, including escalating global tensions, deepening inequalities, and the exacerbating climate crisis. He criticized the “outdated, dysfunctional and unjust” international financial architecture that has failed to alleviate the burdens of developing nations struggling with unprecedented levels of public debt.

While acknowledging the potential of trade to drive prosperity and innovation, Guterres cautioned against its role in perpetuating inequality and environmental harm. He lauded UNCTAD’s efforts to address these systemic issues, affirming the organization’s crucial mission in the pursuit of a shared and prosperous future.

Vision for a Sustainable and Inclusive Future

Guterres called for a collective reimagining of global trade, urging a move away from geopolitical rivalries towards a vision where trade fosters shared prosperity. He advocated for global supply chains that drive green innovation and climate action, emphasizing that sustainable development must be a central goal rather than an afterthought.

“Your role remains essential,” Guterres asserted, “in identifying and closing gaps and discrepancies in the system and proposing pragmatic, evidence-based solutions.” He urged the international community to draw inspiration from the founders of UNCTAD, to craft a future where trade becomes a catalyst for sustainable development and global equity.

This renewed vision for UNCTAD underscores its essential role in shaping policies and initiatives that promote an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive global economy for the future.