The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is the main forum of the United Nations for the discussion of international trade and development issues. UNCTAD was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it has a global network of field offices. UNCTAD’s objective is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance, and technology. The Conference meets once every four years; the last in-person session was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016. UNCTAD also holds annual meetings at the ministerial level and other high-level events; the most recent was the Trade and Development Board Annual Meeting in Geneva in 2018.

UNCTAD has 193 member States, and its work is supported by a Secretariat headed by a Secretary-General. The current Secretary-General is Mukhisa Kituyi from Kenya.

Global Advances Group was invited to join UNCTAD’S E-Commerce and Digital Economy (ECDE) Programme and the Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE). The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on E-Commerce and the Digital Economy took place from 14 – 16 October 2020 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, with the theme: ‘Digital platforms and value creation in developing countries.”

UNCTAD’s work is organised into four main pillars:

  1. Trade and development: This pillar focuses on how trade can be used as an instrument to achieve sustainable development. It works to increase the participation of developing countries in the global trading system and to make trade fairer and more inclusive.
  2. Macroeconomic policy and development: This pillar works to promote development-oriented macroeconomic policies and to reduce vulnerability to economic shocks. It also works on issues related to debt, finance, and investment.
  3. Technology and innovation for development: This pillar promotes the adoption and diffusion of technology for sustainable development. It also works on issues related to science, information and communications technology, and space.
  4. Sustainable development: This pillar works to promote sustainable development by integrating economic, social, and environmental objectives. It also works on issues related to climate change, energy, and sustainable consumption and production.