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  • H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech on the opening of the 14th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD)

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta's Speech on the opening of the 14th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD)

Your Excellency President Hage Geingob;
Your Excellency Ban Ki Moon;
Your Excellency Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Vice President of Uganda,  
Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General of UNCTAD;
Ambassador Amina Mohamed, in-coming Chair of the UNCTAD 14 Conference;
Your Excellency Dr Hamad Bin Abulaziz Al Kawari;
Honourable Ministers, Ambassadors and Representatives;
Distinguished Guests,

Karibuni sana!

We are deeply honoured to welcome you to Nairobi for the 14th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14).

Kenya has awaited this day with excitement and enthusiasm – now, to our joy, and some relief, it is finally here.


Let me begin by thanking the UNCTAD secretariat, led by Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, for the outstanding work they have done in preparing for this Conference.  The secretariat has worked closely with the National Preparatory Committee since January this year to make certain that every aspect of the conference is ready, in spite of the short preparation time.

This 14th Session of UNCTAD comes just a few months after we had the pleasure of hosting many of those present with us today for the 10th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference last year.  This year, we look forward to building on the important trade and development gains we made last year.

Looking even further back, we are honoured to be hosting UNCTAD 14 at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (K.I.C.C.), which was the venue of the 4th session of UNCTAD 40 years ago in 1976.

Since then, there have been momentous changes in the world economy – changes which present both challenges and opportunities.  Many issues on the agenda in 1976 demand our attention, forty years later.  Now, as then, commodities are a key issue – indeed, in some ways, they are even more central to the discussion under the current multilateral dispensation.  So, I am pleased to note that UNCTAD 14 has among other thematic subjects, a forum on commodities, which as we know, directly impacts the development of all our nations in various ways.

Since 1976, most of our nations have undergone socio-economic and political transformation, occasioned by the various forces including those of globalization and the rise of information and communication technologies. Kenya for instance, has substantially diversified its economy in the forty years since.  But if our ultimate aim is prosperity and freedom for all our people, then we must all accept that we have much more work to do.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNCTAD 14 is the first major conference after the adoption of some truly historic agreements in 2015 – agreements which promise to secure the prosperity we seek.

First was the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, which was hosted by our neighbour, Ethiopia in July last year.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda underscores the importance of aligning private investment with sustainable development, along with public policies and regulatory frameworks. The Agenda includes important policy commitments and key deliverables in critical areas for sustainable development, including infrastructure for energy, transport, water and sanitation, and other areas to help realise the sustainable development goals.

Second, in September, we adopted Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets.  The agenda recognizes that eradicating poverty, and especially extreme poverty, is the foremost global challenge, and an indispensable condition for sustainable development.  The SDGs have significantly raised the bar, demanding unprecedented actions and efforts to eradicate poverty and promote inclusive and sustainable global development.  They are ambitious yet achievable — indeed, the burden falls on us to achieve them.

Third, we witnessed the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the COP 21 where five key elements were agreed upon including the Strengthening of Climate Change Actions; Adaptation, which is a key pillar to help the world’s most vulnerable; the Long Term Goal to achieve net zero emissions; Enhanced Transparency to ensure commitments made are fulfilled; and finally COP21 agreed on Climate Finance to support developing countries.

Finally, 2015 saw the adoption of the Nairobi Package during the 10th WTO Ministerial conference in December.  The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries.  The outcomes in MC10 were historic, as members delivered some of the most significant global trade policy reforms in decades.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNCTAD 14 is a wonderful opportunity to exchange views on how these milestone decisions can be translated into action.  We appreciate that while we have made numerous decisions in the past — including the Millennium Development Goals, not all have been fully achieved.  I believe that with a strengthened global partnership for development, we will surely be able to achieve the targets we have set in Agenda 2030.

In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank all the negotiators who have worked so hard on the outcome document for this Conference.  I understand that the document will outline UNCTAD’s programme of work for the next four years.  It is our view that the mandate for UNCTAD should be strengthened, so that it can play a more meaningful role in the implementation of the new global agenda.  The huge responsibilities with which we members entrusted UNCTAD in 1964 are more relevant today than before.  Let our commitment to this organization therefore grow, rather than diminish.

Equally, I have been informed that, while divergent positions still exist on a number of issues in the outcome document, great efforts are being made to arrive at a consensus.  Constructive engagement, transparency and inclusiveness – and willingness to compromise – will be key for success.  I remain confident that the Conference will deliver successful outcomes for the global economy and for our sustainable development.

Lastly, I must encourage you to find time out of your busy schedule to enjoy Kenya’s beauty and hospitality.
With these few remarks, I declare UNCTAD 14 officially open. I thank you all.

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