UNCTAD to Play “Central Role” in Achieving SDGs
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Delegates agreed to give the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) a central role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by adopting a framework that will guide UNCTAD's work over the next four years, and that is primarily focused on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 14th session of UNCTAD (UNCTAD 14) resulted in a political declaration and the ‘Nairobi Consensus,' on providing technical assistance to ensure that globalization and trade benefit people in developing countries.

unctad1425 July 2016: Delegates agreed to give the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) a central role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by adopting a framework that will guide UNCTAD’s work over the next four years, and that is primarily focused on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 14th session of UNCTAD (UNCTAD 14) resulted in a political declaration and the ‘Nairobi Consensus,’ on providing technical assistance to ensure that globalization and trade benefit people in developing countries.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened UNCTAD 14, which focused on the theme ‘From Decisions to Actions,’ in Nairobi, Kenya, from 17-22 July 2016. Ban called for collaboration, equality and inclusion in trade, finance and investment in order to realize the SDGs. He highlighted the vulnerability of developing countries to volatile commodity markets, from social instability and a “fragile global environment weakened by climate change.” He lamented that many leaders are embracing protectionism and xenophobia, instead of working to improve the current economic model. Ban called for: regulatory frameworks to govern trade; investment in and improved technology for agricultural production; the alignment of incentive structures in financial markets with social objectives to avoid large income disparities; and putting a price on ecosystem services and risk, particularly from climate change.

The declaration, or Nairobi Azimio in Swahili, discusses: the benefits of globalization; continuing impacts of the global economic and financial crisis; the primacy of work, gender equality and the empowerment and promotion of entrepreneurship of women and youth; global partnerships to eradicate poverty; international trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth; poverty eradication and sustainable development; and negative impacts of unsustainable debt on development.

UNCTAD 14 highlighted issues related to non-tariff measures, debt and illicit financial flows, and included the launch of an e-trade initiative, a multi-donor trust fund on trade and productive capacity, and UNCTAD’s ‘Economic Development in Africa Report 2016: Debt Dynamics and Development Finance in Africa.’ The latter report calls on African governments to: add new revenue sources to finance their development; combat illicit financial flows; and “prevent rapid debt growth from becoming a crisis.” The report states that at least US$600 billion will be required annually to achieve the SDGs. Another UNCTAD publication, the 2016 edition of ‘Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures,’ determines that if rich countries had met the 0.7% aid target, developing countries would be US$2 trillion better off. It also puts numerical values on one third of the 230 global SDG indicators; and explains that only six countries have ever reached the 0.7% target, which UNCTAD first proposed in 1968.

Also during UNCTAD 14, more than 90 countries signed a road map on fisheries subsidies, which was jointly put forward by UNCTAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The joint statement calls on the international community to deliver on SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), and specifically to deliver on SDG target 14.6 on prohibiting fisheries subsidies that lead to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminating subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and refraining from adopting such subsidies.

According to FAO: fisheries subsidies total an estimated US$35 billion worldwide, with US$20 billion directly contributing to overfishing; the share of sustainable fish stock levels decreased from 90% in 1974 to 68.6% in 2013; and subsidies that lead to sustainable management of stocks, local development and livelihoods must be maintained and enhanced. The road map requires countries to submit information regarding the subsidies they are providing. It also prohibits subsidies that contribute to overfishing and illegal fishing, introduces policy tools to discourage new harmful subsidies, and provides special and differential treatment to developing countries. During the launch, UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Joakim Reiter urged the next World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, in 2017, to eliminate harmful fisheries subsidies, and said the road map sends a strong signal in this regard.

On the sidelines of UNCTAD 14, the African Union Commission (AUC), supported by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and UNCTAD worked on a draft text of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement during a ECA-organized four-day workshop. The CFTA will create a single market in Africa for goods and services, enable free movement of businesses and investments, expand intra-African trade, and enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels. The covered workshop discussed modalities for negotiations for goods and services trade, the framework agreement and annexes on trade in goods, trade in services, institutional arrangements and dispute settlement. The next meeting on the CFTA will take place in mid-September, and the CFTA is expected to be in place in October 2017.

More than 5,000 delegates from 149 countries attended the conference, which included ministerial debates, high-level round tables, thematic events, a World Investment Forum, a Global Commodities Forum, a Youth Forum and a Civil Society Forum. UNCTAD sessions have convened every four years since 1964. [UNCTAD 14 Website] [UN Press Release, 22 July] [UN Press Release, 17 July] [UNCTAD Press Release on Reaching Consensus] [UNCTAD Press Release on Achieving the SDGs] [UNCTAD Press Release on Africa Report] [UNCTAD Press Release, 18 July] [Draft Nairobi Azimio] [Joint Statement on Fisheries Subsidies] [UNCTAD Press Release on Fisheries Subsidies Statement] [UNEP Press Release on Fisheries Subsidies Statement] [Economic Development in Africa Report 2016] [Remarks by UN Secretary-General] [Civil Society Forum Website] [UNECA Press Release on the CFTA] ​


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