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  • Short Courses for Geneva-based Diplomats - 2023 series

    The UNCTAD secretariat is pleased to announce another series of short courses in 2023 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 second semester, three courses will be provided at Palais des Nations - on 12 September, 24 October, 24 November 2023 respectively. 

    The second semester in 2023 includes:

    • Tuesday 12 September 2023, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - Shaping the future of supply chains in Africa: Optimizing opportunities and strategic value Economic Development in Africa Report
    • Tuesday 26 September 2023, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - Challenges and opportunities around green Innovation and sustainability
    • Friday 24 November 2023, 10 a.m. (Room XXVI) - Unlocking the potential of the creative economy for resilience and sustainable development
  • Tuesday 12 September 2023, 10 a.m. - Shaping the future of supply chains in Africa: Optimizing opportunities and strategic value Economic Development in Africa Report

    The global supply chain disruptions caused by recent global shocks (e.g. Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions, climate change impact, etc.) and the resulting global market slowdown have intensified the need to promote more resilient supply chain operations across various regions, and thus mitigating the risks of supply shortages and other repercussions of shocks and vulnerabilities on supply chain efficiency. The risks of concentrating manufacturing and supply chains in a few markets or sourcing sector-specific intermediate goods from a few locations can increase exposure to shocks and disruptions in production networks and supply chains. As a result, industries participating in global supply chains are increasingly seeking to diversify their supply base (number of suppliers) and customer base (number of customers), improve their supply chains with more technology-enabled processes and businesses, and optimize supply chain financing solutions in order to reducing their dependence on global suppliers, sourcing, distribution and other supply chain components.

    The course will inform policymakers on these current global trends and how the increasing need for global firms to diversify their supply chains in order to improve resilience can provide African countries with a unique opportunity to make more impactful integration into the global economy. The course will also discuss the opportunities for companies to diversify and relocate part of their supply chains, especially in high-knowledge and technology-intensive sectors such as automotive, electronics, and medical devices, by considering or targeting Africa as a new source market for inputs (e.g. critical minerals and intermediate products) while reducing the costs of transportation and logistics and minimizing risks with supplier delivery delays and other challenges. Growing African consumer markets, with increasing demand for electronics goods and financial technology services, can provide incentives for market proximity and diversification towards the continent. New technologies and manufacturing trends are critical ingredients that allow viable local production, attractive domestic markets for foreign companies (including relocation of production to the continent), and innovative supply chain practices. The course will present key findings and strategies from EDAR 2023 on how best African economies and businesses (including SMEs) can position themselves to become key players in global supply chains.

  • Tuesday 26 September 2023, 10 a.m. - Challenges and opportunities around green Innovation and sustainability

    This course will analyse the opportunities and challenges posed by green innovation on sustainable development with reference to the Technology and Innovation Report 2023. It will discuss the conceptual framework of a ‘green techno-economic paradigm’ and empirical works on catch-up trajectories to inform countries possible pathways for seizing green windows of opportunity. The course will present an overview of the status of green technologies in terms of technical performance, market penetration, employment, investment, etc. and offer in-depth analysis on three issues, namely (i) developing and using renewable energy technologies; (ii) greening global value chains by switching to digital technologies; and (iii) diversifying towards production sectors that are more complex and greener. It will also provide policy recommendations supported by case studies and discuss the role of international cooperation in supporting countries to harness the full potential of green technologies.

    Delegates will learn about the opportunities and challenges that countries have faced or may face in promoting green technology and innovation to contribute to national development priorities and accelerate the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals upon the completion of the course. They will be able to identify strategies for countries to take advantage of the green technology revolution to build a greener, smarter, more resilience, inclusive and sustainable society, as well as areas that the international community could support countries in leveraging green technologies for a low-carbon world.


  • Friday 24 November 2023, 10 a.m. - Unlocking the potential of the creative economy for resilience and sustainable development

    The creative economy is a rapidly growing sector that has the potential to create jobs, income, and export revenues, foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and contribute to the overall well-being of society. UNCTAD’s short course provides a comprehensive overview of the creative economy. It explores its linkages to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and its role in the post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The course is designed to give delegates a thorough understanding of what constitutes the creative economy, its measurement, its contribution to sustainable development, and how policy and institutional frameworks can support its growth.

    The course will cover UNCTAD’s mandate and work on the creative economy, trends in the trade of creative goods and services, and the challenges and opportunities facing the creative economy amid the increasing digitalization of the sector. By the end of the course, delegates will have gained a comprehensive understanding of the creative economy, including its potential to contribute to sustainable development and policies that promote its development.


  • Thursday 27 April 2023, 10 a.m. - Voluntary Sustainability Standards and International Trade

    International trade is recognized as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction that contributes to the promotion of sustainable development both by the 2030 Agenda and its accompanying SDGs as well as the Addis Ababa Agenda. However, it remains a considerable challenge to train policymakers to map out interlinkages between trade policy and sustainable development, let alone to ensure that trade policy outcome positively influence sustainable development. For this reason, implementing voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) related to products and production processes can ensure that products and production processes comply with a set of social, economic and/or environmental requirements in order to make global production more sustainable. VSS may generate higher productivity levels due to improved agricultural practices, training, input use, and technology transfers at the level of the producer, hence allowing for higher trade volumes. However, the reliance of VSS on audits to ensure compliance with their standards has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Relatedly, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, VSS may impede trade, especially for low-income countries. Certification, compliance, and monitoring costs make it difficult for some producers, especially smallholders, to obtain certification, and might drive them out of export markets. These costs are proportionally higher in countries with weak institutions and/or a fragile regulatory environment.

    This course aims to provide Geneva-based delegates with:

    • the best practices of implementing Voluntary Sustainability Standards to pursue sustainable trade, especially for post-pandemic recovery,
    • the opportunities and challenges of using VSS to make trade more sustainable and inclusive for developing countries,
    • the capacity to strategize the building blocks of sustainable global value chains.
  • Tuesday 14 March 2023, 10 a.m. - Trends and prospects of foreign direct investment, investment policies and their impact on sustainable development

    Global FDI showed a strong rebound in 2021, even surpassing the pre-pandemic level. However, the recovery is highly uneven with significant variation across regions and sectors. Especially, investments in SDG-relevant sectors remain fragile. Renewable energy and utilities are the strongest growth sustainability sectors, but with a small number of large-scale projects in a limited number of countries. Least Developed Countries (LDCs), which were significantly affected during the pandemic with double-digit declines in almost all sectors, still show less favorable trends in SDG-relevant sectors.

    The course will discuss the ongoing reforms in international taxation and their implications for investment and investment policies. The discussion will focus on the adoption of a global minimum tax for multinational enterprises and other mechanisms to counter harmful tax practices. The course will also address the key issues arising from the complexity of the international investment regime and present the wide-range of UNCTAD’s tools to support the formulation of more balanced international investment policies.

    The short course will be based in the key findings from the World Investment Report 2022, insights from the intergovernmental debates on investment and development, and elements of UNCTAD’s investment policy framework for sustainable development (IPFSD). The programme will focus on:

    • analysing the recent trends in global cross-border investment,
    • exploring the relevant regional and sectoral trends, including in SDGs and climate change investment sectors,
    • discussing the latest developments on investment policy, with an especial focus on the reforms in international taxation and understand their implications,
    • understanding which reform actions are most relevant in order to make international investment agreements more effective in promoting and facilitating investment?
    • outlining best practices and tools for investment facilitation, to attract and retain FDI
  • Thursday 9 February 2023, 10 a.m. - Maritime transport for sustainable development: key insights and projections from the UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport

    Delivered by the Division on Technology and Logistics Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and the global economy. More than 80% of the volume of international trade in goods is carried by sea, and this percentage is higher for most developing countries. Since 1968, the Review of Maritime Transport is published on annual basis and is considered an UNCTAD flagship report. It provides analysis of structural and cyclical changes affecting seaborne trade, ports, and shipping, and statistics from maritime trade and transport.

    The latest edition lays special emphasis on resilience building in the face of supply chain crisis and devotes a chapter on issues associated with the process of consolidation in container shipping. In the post pandemic recovery, the findings of the report will update delegates on the latest key developments in seaborne trade, maritime and port business, freight rates, key performance indicators, seafarers’ concerns, trade facilitation, among other aspects.

    Delegates will have the opportunity to engage on a range of issues—from freight rates, to supply chains, and prices—and the impact they may generate for economic development, especially for developing countries who face more challenges than other economies. The course content will also illustrate the links between maritime transport and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).