ICC reaffirms its support to trade and development at UN conference
A few hours before the opening of the meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, which took place from 20-25 April in Accra, Ghana, a select number of senior business and government delegates met in closed quarters to discuss the current global challenges facing the world. The food crisis, the rise of new forms of investment protectionism, climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and the emergence of the new South, were the key topics of discussion.
These delegates, including UNCTAD Secretary General Supachai Panitchpakdi and ICC Permanent Representative in Geneva Jacqueline Coté, were all participants at the 7th meeting of the Investment Advisory Council, a joint initiative established in 2001 by UNCTAD and ICC to provide an informal and flexible framework within which questions related to attracting foreign direct investment can be discussed.
Speaking on behalf of ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban, Ms Coté stressed the need for business to see two international processes come to rapid and satisfactory completion: the Doha Round of trade negotiations under the WTO and the discussions leading to a new long-term framework for dealing with climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which will replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. Despite these two processes being separate and distinct, Ms Coté said that they both have an immediate impact on business confidence to plan and undertake long-term investments.
As part of the week-long conference, under the theme “Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalization for development,” UNCTAD XII set itself the goal to tackle several fundamental issues, including the creation of the institutional environment conducive to increased foreign investment and sustainable development. Responding to several ministerial statements during an interactive thematic roundtable on this issue, Ms Coté stressed that the business community saw climate change both as a risk to its operations and an opportunity to create new products and services.
“Companies are investing large amounts of capital to develop these products, not out of philanthropy, but because there is a market for them,” said Ms Coté. “It is important that governments develop policies that encourage research, development and deployment of technologies that address growing emissions, improve access to energy, support economic development, and support adaptation in developing countries.”
ICC was also active during another thematic roundtable on the topic “Harnessing knowledge and technology for development”. After a keynote address by the Princess of Thailand, ICC representative and Senior Director of Cisco Systems Art Reilly skillfully moderated the ministerial panel, stressing the importance of information and communication technologies as an enabler and fundamental tool in achieving the MDGs and calling for the need for all stakeholder groups to be involved.
The Accra Declaration, which was issued on Friday 25 April 2008, supported ICC statements that adequate technology will be critical to help developing countries rise to the challenge posed by climate change.