The 14th session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) kicked off in Nairobi on Sunday amid calls from delegates for governments to reduce global economic inequality.
The week-long event on shaping prosperity for all and reigniting the engines of sustainable development will be discussing issues affecting the global economy, including ways in which African countries can reduce over-dependence on the sale of commodities.
The conference which was officially opened in Nairobi by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also focusing on how developing countries can position themselves for benefits of global trade.
In his opening remarks, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called for strengthening of UNCTAD so that it plays a bigger role in bringing global prosperity.
“The huge responsibilities with which we members entrusted UNCTAD in 1964 are more relevant today than before. Let our commitment to this organization therefore grow, rather than diminish,” Kenyatta told more than 7,000 delegates from across the globe.
Kenyatta called for strengthened global partnership to achieve the socioeconomic goals set for the world including the Sustainable Development Goals.
“UNCTAD 14 is a wonderful opportunity to exchange views on how these milestone decisions can be translated into action,” he said, urging for more actions to translate promises into achievements.
The conference is aimed at shaping policy debates to ensure that domestic policies and international actions in trade contribute to sustainable development.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Secretary General of UNCTAD urged the participants at the conference to come up with agreements that will restore trust in the global economy and contribute to prosperity for all.
Ban said UNCTAD has a vital role to play in implementing the interdependent and holistic agenda to achieve global prosperity
Ban also said the global economic slowdown had created need for new policies to make trade more vibrant and called on all countries present at the conference to adopt policies that promote equality.
“High inequality, stagnant incomes, not enough jobs especially for the youth and too little cause for optimism stoke litigate fears for the future for many in all the regions,” he said during the opening ceremony.
He expressed concern about the fact that the global trade slow down and lack of productive investment had sharpened the divide between countries that have benefited and those that feel left behind.
UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi said the holding of the conference in Kenya was a statement of endorsement of the country’s achievement in how to optimize economic opportunities.
Kituyi said UNCTAD 14 is being held at a time there is optimism for global prosperity following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals at the 2015 UN General Assembly.
Kituyi said it was time for world leaders to stop the rhetoric and focus on making changes that boost sustainable development.
“Previous conferences have set out the script for us not to make any new promises but to seek to keep the promises already made.
“We look to this meeting as the first major United Nations development meeting to start charting the way of implementation, from decision to action,” Kituyi said.
This is the second time the UNCTAD conference is being held in Nairobi with the first one in 1976.
These are the only two times the UNCTAD summit has been held in Africa.