Addressing key economic issues to advance sustainable development: ideas for actions

27 May 2013

As reforms to the global economic and financial systems are undertaken, a high-level panel has recommended that a body to observe global economic and financial governance to be established with UNCTAD as custodian to safeguard the interests of poor countries.

This document focuses on how UNCTAD can adapt and play an effective role representing the interests of less-wealthy nations as the global economy changes, driven by rapid technological advances, lengthening supply chains for products, and ever-greater flows of money and resources across borders. It also reflects a shift in perspective advocated by the organization in recent years towards “development-centred globalization.”

On the proposed Development Observatory of Global Economic and Financial Governance, the panel notes that such an observatory would analyze all major suggested changes to the global financial and economic architecture, assess their impact on sustainable development and inclusive growth, and make recommendations to address any shortcomings. The panel proposes that this could be based on developing indicators for "development-centered" globalization, and periodically using them to assess the impacts of globalization.

"The Observatory would be an effective assessment tool independent from policy-setting processes.” It adds, “In fulfilling this role under its development mission and mandate, UNCTAD could also strive to increase its cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF, especially in relation to policies that affect developing countries.”

The suggested “multilateral platform where international investment policies can be coordinated” would be a response to “the systemic complexity and incoherence of the current regime” of international investment agreements, the report says. “A more coordinated approach to global investment relations is needed if we are to (i) stimulate investment for growth and jobs; (ii) make investment work for sustainable development; (iii) avoid protectionism; and (iv) ensure policy coherence at the national and international levels and create synergies between investment policies and other policies, such as those for trade, finance, competition, or the environment.”

Among additional recommendations contained in the report is establishment of an “aid-for diversification facility” to help poor countries reduce their economic dependence on commodities exports. An accompanying “aid for diversification programme” could offer “support that commodity-dependent, low-income countries need to successfully diversify their economies, both horizontally and vertically,” the study says. “Such a facility would not only provide funding, but also help through technology and human resource development, including providing advice on the utilization of funds and job creation.”

The report, among other things, also recommends:


  • Establishing “a multilateral and multi-stakeholder platform for fostering dialogue among regional trade blocs;”
  • Developing “operational strategies for strengthening the productive capacity” of developing country businesses so that they can “become part of global supply chains and maximize the developmental benefits thereof;”
  • Assessing “the economic development impact of migration;”
  • Organizing a platform for retired professionals to volunteering their skills to poor countries;
  • Setting up “an international technical assistance centre for green investment and technology”;
  • Additional work by UNCTAD to “mainstream gender parity in the economic and development spheres;” and
  • Carrying out further research on the informal economies of developing countries and the establishment of a “platform” to “provide technical assistance to facilitate the formalization of the informal sector.”


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