In his address to all delegations in Geneva, Switzerland today, His Excellency Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar, and Chairman of the National Preparatory Committee for UNCTAD XIII, said the upcoming quadrennial conference was an opportunity to truly "demonstrate and exercise political will and leadership" in promoting the development of humanity.
The magnitude of the challenges before the international community keeps the role of UNCTAD as important as at its inception, he said. Challenges such as the worst financial crisis ever, climate change, food insecurity, unsustainable development and the resulting social and political upheaval make UNCTAD XIII a timely event for big ideas and bold vision, Dr. Al-Kawari noted.
Qatar is well placed to host UNCTAD XIII at a time of tremendous changes in the region, given its recent developmental success story and commitment to international trade as well as social and economic reforms.
In his introductory remarks, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, said the conference comes at a crucial time for the world economy. While there has been a tentative recovery from the crisis, the world economy remains fragile. It is, therefore, time to think how, following the UNCTAD spirit of cooperation and consensus building, UNCTAD Member States can best deliver more inclusive and sustainable economic outcomes that guarantee a better future for everybody, Dr. Panitchpakdi said.
UNCTAD XIII quadrennial conference will be held in Doha, Qatar, from 21 - 26 April. The theme of the conference is ‘Development-centred Globalization: Towards Sustainable and Inclusive Development Paths'. The session will be attended by heads of state, high-level government officials, and representatives of civil society, the business community, and academia. At the numerous events organized during the conference, the organization's 194 Member States will discuss the current state of the world economy and the challenges it poses for development, and identify policy solutions. UNCTAD's work programme for the next four years will also be set. Official negotiations on the outcome text of UNCTAD XIII are ongoing.
Dr. Al-Kuwari encouraged the delegates to "seize the opportunity" and "make history". The delegates' work in negotiating the outcome document of the conference, which will guide UNCTAD's work over the four coming years, is of "fundamental importance", he said. He urged them to continue to work in a constructive manner, keeping in mind the importance of the conference and the stated objective of "bringing prosperity and development to humanity".
Qatar has always felt a special responsibility to contribute to the global effort for the holistic development of humanity, Dr. Al-Kuwari underlined. It is this spirit of unity and focus that gave rise to the commitment to host UNCTAD XIII and ensure its resounding success, he said. He highlighted the country's successful record of hosting major international events, crowned by Qatar's selection as the host nation for the 2022 World Cup. The country is also bidding to host the 2020 Olympics, hoping for the same kind of international support and a successful outcome. In the meantime, one can look at the UNCTAD quadrennial conference as a "cooperative Olympics of development", Dr. Al-Kuwari added.
Highlighting some of the conference events, Dr. Al-Kuwari placed special emphasis on the high level event's aim to give new prominence to the role of women in development, as well as the World Investment Forum, the third and most ambitious one to date.
Today's briefing to the delegations was chaired by the Trade and Development Board President, and President of the Preparatory Committee for UNCTAD XIII, His Excellency Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Background information Established in 1964, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. UNCTAD has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.
Qatar signed the host-country agreement for the UNCTAD in Geneva in July 2011 after it was elected by the developing countries group as a result of its pioneering experience in organizing international conferences in addition to its strong economy.