United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) is going to organize its 15th quadrennial ministerial conference (UNCTAD15) in Bridgetown, Barbados to address the massive unmet trade, finance, investment and technology needs of developing countries struggling to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley and UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi signed an agreement on August 5 for the hosting of the event to be held from 25 to 30 April 2021, officially setting off preparations for the landmark gathering of the organization's 195 member states.
UNCTAD15 will be held under the theme "From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all", offering the nations of the world a platform to devise new ways to use trade as an enabler of sustainable development.
It will be a major global event of the UN's "decade for action" to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says a press release of UNCTAD.
At the conference, countries will discuss how to get the vulnerable economies quickly back on their feet and trigger the investment needed to enhance their resilience to shocks, including climate change, which exacts a disproportionately heavy toll on small island developing states (SIDS).
According to UNCTAD's estimates, developing countries need $2.5 trillion in immediate resources to begin meeting the challenge of the pandemic. This is beyond the outstanding SDG funding gap of billions.
For example, even before the pandemic, least developed countries (LDCs) alone needed annual investments of $120 billion to achieve the SDG targets.
The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable countries and people hardest. Over 70 million additional people living in LDCs will be pushed into extreme poverty this year, increasing the global poverty headcount ratio for the first time in two decades, according to UN estimates.
Mukhisa Kituyi has said COVID-19 has starkly revealed that the world must transform global approaches to trade and development to chart a sustainable course to a better recovery.
"We need to rebuild entirely from the ground up, because for too many, going back to business as usual is anathema to sustaining prosperity," Dr Kituyi said.
As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in the developing world, the global economy enters a synchronized recession unseen since the Second World War.
To cope with the spiralling economic fallout, developing countries need the galvanized attention of the international community.
UNCTAD15 will offer the focused attention needed to mobilize political will towards the systemic changes needed for a better recovery.
"The Covid-19 global emergency and its extreme repercussions have exposed the need for a fundamental rethinking of many of the assumptions that previously underpinned the international economic order," Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley said during the signing ceremony held virtually.
Covid-19's economic impact is particularly acute in small island developing states such as Barbados, where the services industry, especially travel and tourism, have borne the brunt of the pandemic.
These sectors are the lifeline of SIDS and the main sources of employment for women and small businesses, all of whom are severely affected by the pandemic's economic fallout.
The quadrennial conference is the highest decision-making body of UNCTAD. It sets the organization's work priorities for the next four years.