By Akanimo Sampson
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD), Isabelle Durant, has unveiled the organisation’s 2018 Annual Report, which shows in a new-look fashion how the UN trade and development body contributed to a global sustainability drive.
According to Durant who was speaking on Friday, ‘’this annual report showcases the vast range of reports, projects and intergovernmental meetings that UNCTAD worked on in 2018.
‘’It will be a source of vital information to representatives of United Nations member countries, partners in the intergovernmental system and civil society, academics, the media and anyone with an interest in global economic justice.’’
As part of their commitment to a digital future, UNCTAD’s report is for the first time presented in an online format. The report’s highlights are also available in printed format, but UNCTAD plans to phase this out as part of the paperless dissemination strategy that underpins the organisation’s efforts to go green.
The new report looks at UNCTAD’s work through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals – a 17-point plan at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda was adopted by the international community in 2015 to spur efforts to curb poverty, improve health and protect the Planet.
The report maps the goals onto UNCTAD’s mandate. This approach highlights the relevance of trade to aims such as reduced inequalities (Goal 10), industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9) and decent jobs and growth (Goal 8).
UNCTAD’s close advisory relationship with the governments of developing nations – dating back to the first UN Conference on Trade and Development that gave birth to the organization in 1964 – plus its focus on technical assistance, also means its work is central to Goal 17. That goal seeks to revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development and strengthen the means of implementing all the goals.
Other goals touched by UNCTAD’s work include Goal 12 on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, Goal 14 on life below water, and Goal 16 on peace and justice. The annual report also reveals that the cross-cutting goals – Goal 1 on ending poverty and Goal 5 on women’s empowerment – framed everything that UNCTAD did in 2018.
Highlights of UNCTAD’s year included its work on the trade dimensions of intra-Africa migration, the 2018 edition of the biennial World Investment Forum and “remarkable results” achieved by the ASYCUDA automated customs programme in Afghanistan.
“As the results documented in this 2018 Annual Report demonstrate, when we are faced with an increasingly fragmented trade and development landscape, we must maintain fidelity to our integrated approach and make good on our founding promise to promote prosperity for all,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi wrote in the foreword to the report.
“Going forward we will continue to accomplish this through renewing our intellectual leadership, increasing our transformative impact, and further leveraging our convening power on trade and development issues, within the context of an increasingly coherent development pillar within the UN,” Dr. Kituyi added.
The 2018 Annual Report was presented on the closing day of the fifth edition of UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week, which was held at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva and gathered hundreds of development and digital economy stakeholders.