Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks on the Memorandum of Understanding between UNDP and the Islamic Development Bank Group / Islamic Trade Finance Corporation

May 2, 2013

Remarks for Rebeca Grynspan
UN Under Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator

On the Occasion of the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UNDP and the Islamic Development Bank Group / Islamic Trade Finance Corporation -
Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States

Your Excellencies,

My thanks go to the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation and personally to Dr. Waleed Al Wohaib for his support, commitment and enthusiasm towards this partnership.  I also thank UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States for organizing this luncheon, as it is always very important and encouraging to see the engagement of Permanent Representatives in new and interesting initiatives that can pave the way for other regions to follow.

I am pleased to commend the Islamic Trade Finance Corporation of the Islamic Development Bank for coming together to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with UNDP.

The MoU calls for cooperation between UNDP and the ITFC on a range of areas, including promotion of economic and social development, poverty reduction through trade development, staff exchanges, knowledge dissemination, and more.

As a first step in this deepening engagement, I am pleased that UNDP will work with other UN Agencies including UNCTAD, the ILO, UNIDO and the ITC to launch the Aid for Trade Initiative in the Arab States.

This initiative comes at a very interesting time. Today, we find ourselves at a global inflection point, with countries of the south increasingly driving global growth and making rapid progress on poverty reduction and job creation.

UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report, The Rise of the South, showed that a good deal of this progress has been driven by emerging economies who have embraced the opportunities inherent in international trade, including through South-South and regional Foreign Direct Investment and technology transfer.

Indeed, the report shows that countries which have been relatively open in this regard and also pursued innovative social policy have showed more accelerated progress in human development and the wellbeing of their population. 

In this respect, our view at UNDP is that going beyond growth, investing in peoples capacities, and finding the right balance between internal and external markets for the development of a competitive and high productivity production base supported by the right policies and institutions can be a powerful and sustainable driver of development and of job creation.

The Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States is driven by this same spirit. Its aim is to foster inclusive economic growth with increased employment opportunities and greater competitiveness through reforms to trade policy in the Arab countries.

This is promising as the employment challenges facing this region are well-known, and as my colleagues in the Regional Bureau for Arab States tell me, intra-regional and international trade in many productive sectors have lagged behind the levels that many analysts and officials in the region have aimed for.  I look forward to the launch of this initiative and to following up on its implementation and results around the Arab region.

This Memorandum of Understanding also represents a step forward for how UNDP engages with partners in the Arab region and beyond.

First and foremost, it signals a deepening of our engagement with the Islamic Development Bank Group, a major multilateral development financing organization with activities in every region of the world, as well as the International Islamic Trade Financing Corporation, one of IDB’s most important entities and its lead on driving development through trade. 

It also reflects a new way of doing our work by bringing together two emerging donors, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, with one traditional donor, Sweden, to provide financial backing for this important work.

It allows for a continued sharpening of our substantive partnership with the League of Arab States, which will partner in the implementation of the initiative.

And, finally, it demonstrates another step forward in the UN Development Group Delivering as One, as it will pool the capacities of several UN Agencies in order to provide coordinated and high-quality technical assistance.

We are living right now in a world that is filled with new opportunities but also with new challenges and risks. As a development community, we must sharpen what we do and how we do it. I believe that this initiative will be a model in this regard and I am pleased to be here today to witness the signing of the MoU. 

Thank you.

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