UNCTAD15 Opening Plenary and Ceremony – Oct 4, 2021. (UNCTAD)

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has set back the economic development of some countries by decades, President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has suggested that leaders use the 15th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 15) as the platform to restart the rebuilding process.

He expressed this view today as he addressed the opening ceremony and plenary session of the four-day conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael

President Kenyatta told delegates at the event being held in a virtual format, with events being streamed from Barbados, Geneva and across the world, that the process could be achieved in a number of ways.

Firstly, he advised them to look for avenues for economic diversification; secondly, to foster more sustainable and resilient economies; thirdly, to improve the way development was financed, and fourthly, to revitalise multilateralism to achieve a sustainable, inclusive, and digital world of shared prosperity.

The President stated “We already have a framework for transitioning from inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all. It includes goals and targets established through the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It is now time to move from promises and commitments. It is now time to accelerate implementation of these promises and pledges.”

He also used the opportunity to reiterate his call for the international community to come together and work towards a functional multilateral system to enhance pandemic preparedness and response, in order to achieve a “robust global health care architecture”, to address future threats from a pandemic.

“No single government or multilateral agency can address these threats alone. We must work together in solidarity if we are indeed to succeed,” President Kenyatta added.

He contended the COVID-19 pandemic had created unprecedented socio- economic disruption, that exasperated the vulnerabilities of many countries, and widened inequality.

Additionally, Mr. Kenyatta remarked that the pandemic had reversed or stalled the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, thereby “rendering millions of people to lose their lives as well as their livelihoods”.

“Many have fallen into extreme poverty as tax revenues have dipped due to the contraction of economic activities, and the increase in the debt burden. The fiscal space to provide the safety net to vulnerable groups in many of our countries, has equally, been significantly constrained,” he noted.

The Kenyan President said the Conference’s theme: From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all was welcomed, as it aimed to ensure that no one was left behind.

The conference is slated to end on Thursday, October 7.


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