UNCTAD Conference Opens With High-Level Calls For Action On Trade And Development 18/07/2016 by Fredrick Nzwili for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)NAIROBI, Kenya (IP-Watch) – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 14th Session opened here yesterday, with leaders calling for deeper and broader cooperation between trade and development. African drumbeats, dances and music greeted the delegates who have descended on the Kenyan city, which continues to take shape as an African nucleus for starts-ups and innovations. On the agenda of UNCTAD14 are issues related to intellectual property such as trade, commodities, global investment and development. It also convenes at time when there is a growing innovation climate in Africa and increasing awareness about the issues of intellectual property rights. Here, experts have warned that challenges around IP are of great concern for investors and policymakers. The World Investment Forum is viewed as key for the area. A World Leaders Summit – which just concluded, a Civil Society Forum and a Youth Forum are the other forums. A Global Commodities Forum concluded on July 17. The Nairobi meeting is part of the UNCTAD’s tradition in which the agency holds a conference every four years to consider trade and development challenges and agree on collective solutions. This time the conference theme is: “From decisions to actions, moving towards an inclusive and equitable global economic environment for trade and development,” and more than US$14 billion in deals are expected to be agreed by end of the meeting, according to UNCTAD Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi. The Kenya government says nearly 7,000 delegates are convening at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) at city centre from 17-22 July. This is the same venue where the UN agency held its fourth conference four decades ago. Kenya’s independence from Britain and the country’s historic leadership of the non-aligned movement then, were the main reasons for the led to the choice of the East African city as the venue. Now 40 years later, things have changed, but the challenges raised by the conference still remain. However, unlike in 1976, UNCTAD has returned to Kenya when it is one of Africa’s largest and strongest economies. It is also a leader on regional and multilateral cooperation, apart from Nairobi being the epicentre of Africa’s ICT innovations. “Much has changed in 40 years, but many of the challenges raised at UNCTAD IV remain on the international agenda,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the conference. The UNCTAD XIV follows the landmark adoptions of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The SDG Agenda is a blueprint that will guide collective global action on development in the next 15 years. Trade and related issues such as innovation and IP rights like trademarks or patents are seen as part of the achievement of the SDGs. Ban said the successful actions needed in this period especially in the areas of trade, investment, technology and finance required the tap of the full potential of all actors, promotion innovation and correct unsustainable trends. Regulatory frameworks governing trade, investment in agricultural production, and technology related to agricultural productivity, play a critical role, Ban said. “And rather than working to change the economic model for the better, many actual and would-be leaders are instead embracing protectionism and even xenophobia,” he said. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he hopes the meeting will arrive at the key decisions that will accelerate the achievement of global agreements reached earlier to promote trade and innovation-central pillars to development. “The huge responsibility with which we members entrusted UNCTAD in 1964 are more relevant today than before. Let our commitment to this organisation therefore grow, rather than diminish,” said Kenyatta. Kituyi, UNCTAD’s secretary general, said the conference must take bold decisions to implement the major decisions agreed by world leaders last year. He said the world is coming around with the 2030 agenda, to the vision for inclusive property which UNCTAD has pursued since its founding 50 years ago. “The world met the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals last year with enthusiasm for multiculturalism and an optimism for where the next 15 years will lead us,” said Kituyi. “But the road ahead is long and we see troubling headwinds clouding the horizon; confidence that globalisation can deliver is receding. It is critical we now turn from making promises, from decisions to actions.” Meanwhile, UNCTAD announced a new e-commerce initiative. “Developing countries should grasp the rapidly growing opportunity of electronic commerce – e-commerce – worth around $22.1 trillion in 2015, up 38 per cent from 2013, or risk falling quickly behind,” it said at today’s launch of the initiative. The new initiative, called “eTrade for All”, “brings international organizations, donors and businesses under one umbrella, easing developing country access to cutting-edge technical assistance and giving donors more options for funding,” UNCTAD said. Ahead of the conference, over 100 NGOs, part of the global civil society, in a letter on UNCTAD’s role and mandate asserted that technology transfer is essential to the enabling of sustainable development and developing countries. They said UNCTAD should continue to take a leading role in supporting these efforts in developing countries rather than enforcing intellectual property rules that benefit protectionist patent and copyright holders in developed countries. Image Credits: Fredrick Nzwili, UNCTAD Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Fredrick Nzwili may be reached at email@example.com."UNCTAD Conference Opens With High-Level Calls For Action On Trade And Development" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.