13 January 2021
UNCTAD Report Highlights Role of Transformative Productive Capacities in SDG Progress
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UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi prepared the report for the 15th session of UNCTAD, which reaffirms the importance of building productive capacities for economic transformation to galvanize progress on SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The report highlights significant financing concerns: achieving the first four SDGs on poverty elimination, nutrition, good health, and quality education would require developing countries to mobilize 11.9% of their GDP in additional resources, on average.

Kituyi said there is “hope for a way forward,” and noted that strong national policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are “accelerating a revival of needed industrial policies”.

The Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released a report that explores how expanding the transformative productive capacities and capabilities of all states can accelerate achievement of the SDGs and address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report emphasizes the role of transforming trade and increasing productive capacities in charting a more resilient multilateral consensus to achieve the SDGs.

The report titled, ‘Transforming Trade and Development in a Fractured, Post-pandemic World,’ lays out key issues for discussion at the 15th session of UNCTAD. The Conference is scheduled to convene in Bridgetown, Barbados, in October 2021, and will consider how transformative productive capacities can contribute to overcoming the fractured global economic landscape and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report calls for using the Conference as an opportunity to address the way in which a revived and more resilient multilateralism can manage the multiple and changing nexuses between trade and development for the benefit of all.

On the SDGs, the report reflects that deepening fractures in the global economy are “hindering progress on the trade and sustainable development targets of the SDGs.” There has been “mixed and inadequate progress made on the relevant targets related to trade and development,” including the eight SDG targets for which UNCTAD has custodial responsibilities. The report further observes that COVID-19 risks making progress towards the SDGs more uneven, and stresses the need to prevent the pandemic from “derailing progress” towards SDG achievement. The report reaffirms the importance of building productive capacities for economic transformation to galvanize progress on SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). The report states that the 15th session of UNCTAD will be an opportunity to: identify elements to make progress on the decade of action; move forward on inclusive economic development, globalization, and multilateralism; and reaffirm the role of UNCTAD in supporting progress towards the Goals and calling on the UN system to put building transformative productive capacities at the heart of sustainable development.

On financing, the report states that the financing for development process has concluded that investments needed to achieve the SDGs “remain underfunded,” and the sustainability transition in the financial system has not happened “at the required scale.” International private sector flows to at least eight of the ten key SDG areas have been “either flat or declining.” Further, achieving the first four SDGs on poverty elimination, nutrition, good health, and quality education would require developing countries to mobilize 11.9% of their gross domestic product (GDP) in additional resources, on average. In Africa, this figure rises to 21% of GDP in additional annual resources.

On COVID-19, the report states that any response must be of “sufficient magnitude to match the scale of the crisis and deploy sufficient creativity to match its unique nature.” The report argues recovering better will require treating the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to leverage current and emerging economic transformations and address institutional and policy barriers to support more equitable, sustainable growth.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi presented the report to UNCTAD member States on 11 December. He told countries there is “hope for a way forward,” noting that strong national policy responses to the pandemic are “accelerating a revival of needed industrial policies.” He said pandemic-related stimulus could contribute to channeling green investment towards renewable energy generation, clean transportation, and energy-efficient construction, as well as to blue recovery efforts, especially for small island developing States (SIDS). Kituyi emphasized that a focus on the productive side of economic sustainability could help mobilize the global expertise of all to support SDG achievement. [Publication: Transforming Trade and Development in a Fractured, Post-Pandemic World] [Report Highlights] [UNCTAD Press Release]


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