Qatar hosted the thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII) at the Qatar National Convention Center. In the context of global financial turmoil and recent issues in the region, it brought together heads of state, government officials, academics, CEOs and NGOs ,under the theme ” Development-centred globalisation:Towards inclusive and sustainable growth and development”
The conference concluded today with the adoption of the “Doha Accord” setting forth a programme for UNCTAD to deliver upon over the next four years. In its presidency of UNCTAD, Qatar will play a pivotal role in realising this mandate. His Excellency Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, will serve as President of UNCTAD.
Over the course of the last week, UNCTAD XIII has played host to keynote speeches, ministerial meetings, intense negotiations and high-level discussions.
The conference was officially opened by the Emir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, on Saturday 21st April 2012. During the special ceremony, Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations, read a statement on behalf of His Excellency, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General. His Excellency Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, also outlined his hopes for the conference.
The highlights of day two included a special session with a statement from His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the United Nations General Assembly, the continuation of the World Investment Forum, as well as roundtables, panel discussions and high level meetings.
During the special session, HE Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser highlighted the suitability of Qatar as the host country for the conference given its commitment to sustainable development. He said, “We are here to reaffirm a shared commitment to UNCTAD; it must continue to support the countries that are most in need.”
His Excellency Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, who was named President of the Conference during a ceremony, moderated the special session. His Excellency Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, also spoke at the session where he praised Qatar for its “perfect” organisation of the event.
The World Investment Forum held a number of events over the course of the day featuring two roundtables convening ministers, economists, and leading experts. These discussed enhancing the economic environment, and the promotion of investment, trade, entrepreneurship and related development policies.
On the third day of the conference, a high level event on women in development took place, addressing gender inequalities across the world. Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayyasa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), offered the opening remarks at the event. The Honorable Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Honorable Anabel Gonzalez, Minister of Foreign Trade of the Republic of Costa Rica, and the Honorable Mary Robinson, Founder, Mary Robinson Foundation on Climate Justice, former President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, were among those that shared valuable perspectives at the sessions.
His Excellency Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, in his role as President of the Conference, opened the high level event. In his address, he said: “We believe that development is only meaningful where there is a role for women.”
During the closing ceremony of the World Investment Forum 2012 on day three, several awards of appreciation were exchanged between UNCTAD, the organisers of the forum, and Qatar as the host country, which was received by HE Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari as President of the Conference.
Innovation and Technology Day took place on day four of the conference, highlighting the importance of technology and innovation for achieving faster economic growth and advancing sustainable human development. The session also explored how policies could be improved to make innovation and technology a more powerful lever for development.
On the fifth day of the conference panel discussions were held on “Mainstreaming Sustainability into Trade and Development Policies: Towards Rio+20 Summit”, and the future international agenda on non-tariff measures (NTMs). This was followed by an information session on the UN Forum on (Private) Sustainability. A roundtable to address persistent and emerging development challenges as related to their implications for trade and development and interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development also took place.
About the Author: Aparna Shivpuri Arya is Senior Editor, Private Sector Qatar, CPI, Dubai. Before joining CPI, she was working with UNESCAP in Bangkok. She has a Masters degree in International Law and Economics from Switzerland and a Masters degree in International Studies from National University of Singapore. Aparna has worked with think tanks across countries on international trade issues.