Topic outline

  • Short Course

    Short Courses for Geneva-based Diplomats - 2021 series


    The UNCTAD secretariat is pleased to announce another series of short courses in 2021 on key international economic issues for delegates from permanent missions to the United Nations Office at Geneva and the World Trade Organization.

    The aim of the courses is to give delegates from permanent missions an opportunity to become better acquainted with topical issues and developments in the international economic agenda as they are reflected in the work of UNCTAD. More detailed information on the content of individual courses may be found below.

    In the first semester, four courses will be provided at Palais des Nations - on 2 February, 4 March, 16 April, and 7 May 2021 respectively. 

    • Tuesday 2 February 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XX) - UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2020: Global trends and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic
    • Thursday 4 March 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XIX) - Harnessing Blockchain for Sustainable Development: Prospects and Challenges 
    • Friday 16 April 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - The UNCTAD Productive Capacities Index (PCI): A New Tool for Policy Formulation in Developing Countries
    • Friday 7 May 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - Services value-added in exports: policies for development
  • Tuesday 2 February 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XX) - UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2020: Global trends and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has underscored the global interdependency of nations and set-in motion new trends that will reshape the maritime transport landscape. The sector is at a pivotal moment facing not only immediate concerns resulting from the pandemic but also longer-term considerations, ranging from shifts in supply-chain design and globalization patterns to changes in consumption and spending habits, a growing focus on risk assessment and resilience-building, as well as a heightened global sustainability and low-carbon agenda. The pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of maritime transport as an essential sector for the continued delivery of critical supplies and global trade in time of crisis, during the recovery stage and when resuming normality.

    The course will present key findings from the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2020, launched in November 2020, as well as some recent updates on key developments in international maritime transport. It will follow the structure of the report and include the presentation and discussion of the following topics: International maritime trade and port traffic; Maritime transport services and infrastructure supply; Performance indicators; the Covid-19 pandemic: lessons learned from first-hand experiences and Legal issues and regulatory developments.

    • Thursday 4 March 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XIX) - Harnessing Blockchain for Sustainable Development: Prospects and Challenges

      In an increasingly digitalized economy and society, the security and accountability of data transactions are critical elements for creating trust and enabling breakthrough innovations in the digital world. In this regard, blockchain technology could be a game-changer, serving as the base technology for cryptocurrency, enabling open (peer-to-peer), secure and fast transactions. However, issues associated with scalability, privacy concerns, uncertain regulatory standards and difficulties posed by the technology in integration with existing applications are some of the potential market constraints. There is also the risk that the potential of blockchain for solving developmental problems has been somewhat inflated by its early adopters and the tech media and may not be as applicable for developing and least developed countries. The challenges that governments face in this regard will be addressed, in addition to the policy options that could influence the rate and direction of innovation and building the blockchain to contribute to national development priorities and accelerate the progress towards the SDGs.

      This short course will also present the basics of the blockchain technology, describe its ecosystem of innovation, and discuss how blockchain could impact the SDGs. It will zoom on scenarios that impact sustainable development, providing delegates with a deepened understanding of the basics of blockchain technology, its potential impact on the SDGs, and the policy options to influence the rate and direction of innovation towards national development priorities and the SDGs. The course will also raise awareness on the prospects and challenges in harnessing blockchain technologies for sustainable development.

      • Friday 16 April 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - The UNCTAD Productive Capacities Index (PCI): A New Tool for Policy Formulation in Developing Countries


        In response to a request by member States at the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIV), UNCTAD has developed the Productive Capacities Index (PCI). The multidimensional, composite index covers 193 countries, and is composed of 46 indicators across eight categories: human capital, natural capital, transport, energy, information and communications technology, structural change, institutions, and the private sector. The PCI will be a valuable tool to guide the formulation and implementation of development policies. It also assists in the assessment of progress made in implementation of domestic policies and global actions and frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specific programmes of action. The PCI builds on UNCTAD’s long-standing work on productive capacities as the productive resources, entrepreneurial capabilities, and production linkages, which together determine a country’s capacity to produce goods and services.

        Delegates will have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the importance of the PCI as a tool to guide policy formulation and implementation in developing countries; evaluation of aggregate PCI in developing countries; levels and conditions of category- specific scores and values with policy implications; and the way forward and the relevance of the PCI in their daily activities.

        • Friday 7 May 2021, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - Services value-added in exports: policies for development


          Services provide intermediate inputs to all economic sectors: primary, industrial, and even the tertiary sector. For example, automated crop monitoring services are increasingly relevant for agriculture, software services are key for the automotive industry, and telecommunication services are necessary for mobile and digital financial services. This increased use, production, and export of services embedded in all sectors is the servicification of the economy and trade. As such, the performance of the whole economy and trade is related to the effectiveness of services inputs. In developing countries, services account for two-thirds of total productivity growth. In Brazil, where UNCTAD undertook a case-study research on services value-added, services accounted for 17 per cent of direct exports and 48 per cent of value-added exports in 2015. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflects this importance of services in several goals, for example by placing transport, ICT, and financial services as conditions to achieve goal 9 on industry and innovation. The economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic calls, with more urgency, for the use of servicification to promote export diversification, upgrading, and a robust economic recovery. Servicification and its effects have not been sufficiently discussed in policy debates, including on trade policy. This is because some servicification-related concepts break some traditional analytical approaches, and also due to insufficient data and information on its relevance.

          This short course addresses this gap by covering servicification concepts, its relevance, and how this can be addressed in policymaking, including in trade policy and regulatory frameworks.  It will also discuss the strategic importance of services value-added to the economy and international trade.  This short course will provide delegates the opportunity to deepen their understanding of this strategic importance and of the ways through which services value-added is incorporated in economy and trade. It will shed light on the significance of servicification, including utilizing UNCTAD’s guidebook on the methodology to measure services value-added, in addition to gaining knowledge on the services-related policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks necessary to use services value-added in exports to pursue development goals.