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Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva Evan P. Garcia (left) with UNCTAD Trade and Development Board President and Tanzanian Permanent Representative ( Maimuna Kibenga Tarishi)

GENEVA, 22 June 2021 – Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Evan P. Garcia has urged the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to reclaim “its centrality in the development sphere” by facilitating a “meaningful and decisive pivoting to a more effective multilateralism.”


“Our quadrennial conference will take place at a historic juncture,” Ambassador Garcia said, referring to the 15th UNCTAD ministerial meeting that is scheduled to take place in October.


The said meeting will be the first major development-related conference since the outbreak of the pandemic, and is expected to incubate ideas on how to pursue sustainable development in the post-pandemic context.


In its report on the impact of the pandemic on trade and development last year, the UNCTAD secretariat warned that the COVID-19 crisis could send an additional 130 million people into extreme poverty.


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted societies and economies, and the evolving new normal requires fresh approaches to building economic, social, and financial resilience,” Ambassador Garcia told the Trade and Development Board (TDB), UNCTAD’s highest executive organ, at its 68th session today.


The TDB meeting is being held as diplomats negotiate the Bridgetown Covenant, the proposed outcome document of the 15th UNCTAD conference. The draft document calls for transforming economies through diversification, transforming to a more sustainable and resilient economy, transforming how development is financed, and transforming multilateralism.


The Group of 77 and China has appointed the Philippines to lead the group in negotiating the section on “transforming multilateralism.”


“Our call to transform multilateralism proceeds from a recognition of persistent inequity in global economic governance,” Ambassador Garcia said. “The voice of developing countries must therefore be heard. Their participation in global economic governance must be enhanced.”


The Philippines has consistently emphasized in various multilateral fora that the COVID-19 crisis exposed the vulnerabilities of developing countries and sharpened inequalities among economies and sectors, and has called for more thoughtful investments to reinvent multilateralism’s toolbox to build back better and meet the unique challenges of the 21st century.