Food security, growth top Unctad agenda
DOHA FOOD security, sustainable development and infrastructure, in that order, are the top priorities of Unctad, Secretary-General Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi has said.
“I place food security as the highest priority for Unctad. If we cannot tackle issues of food, then we cannot really imagine resolving other issues,” Panitchpakdi said in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday as he outlined the priorities of the organisation.
“We can’t live with a billion malnourished people; this is just not acceptable. Yet, the issue of the bottom billion of the world’s population is not just about malnourishment, but about those people living in acute poverty,” he said.
He said sustainable development and the so-called transition into a green economy was the second most important issue for Unctad.
The third priority is infrastructure, he said adding, “we keep seeing that in spite of the funds, the need for infrastructure is felt everywhere in the world.
Infrastructure needs to be a public- private partnership undertaking, as the funds are often unavailable in the public sector”, Dr Panitchpakdi said.
Ministers and policymakers from countries in the three continents of Africa, Asia and South America participated in the roundtable discussion.
The session on development challenges and structural transformation was part of Unctad XIII conference aimed to raise awareness and stimulate debate on development challenges facing countries, with an emphasis on the role of structural transformation in addressing them.
A summary of the deliberation and policy recommendations arrived at, will then be prepared and used as a guide in setting Unctad’s future research programme.
Dr Panitchpakdi elaborated on this theme, adding that “continuing structural transformation requires consistent transformation of inputs from one sector to another and on to manufacturing. The service sector becomes a cross-cutting sector that doesn’t have to wait for the maturing of industrial services.” Other participants in the roundtable were Botswana’s Minister of Trade and Industry Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, Minister of Production of Peru José Antonio Urquizo Maggia, Vice-Minister for Transportation of Indonesia Bambang Susantono, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights in the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, African Development Bank Group Development Research Department’s Dr Abebe Shimeles and Third World Network (TWN) Africa’s Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei.