Topic outline

  • General

    Geneva short courses - 2011 series
  • Topic 1

    2011 Series - First session
    (Mach to May, 2011)

    The secretariat has planned three courses, to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Palais des Nations on Friday, 18 March 2011 (room XXV); Friday, 15 April 2011 (room XXII); and Friday, 20 May 2011 (room XXV).

    The courses will be delivered in English, with simultaneous interpretation into Arabic, French and Spanish.

    The secretariat invites permanent missions to nominate delegates and other staff who follow matters pertaining to UNCTAD or the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to attend these courses, using the attached application form. The form should be submitted at least one week before the date of the course. Courses will begin promptly at 10 a.m. to allow sufficient time for debate after the presentations.

    Any queries about the programme should be addressed to:

  • Topic 2

    18 March 2011
    Palais des Nations, room XXV

    Governance, development and LDCs

    Governance, both national and global, is critical for accelerating and sustaining development and achieving substantial poverty reduction in the least developed countries (LDCs). This course will focus on the challenge of improving governance at both levels. It will discuss (a) the nature of good development governance within the LDCs and pathways for building developmental State capabilities, and (b) the nature of a new international development architecture for LDCs which can enable rather than constrain development and poverty reduction in the LDCs. The course will draw on the analysis contained in UNCTAD LDC Reports 2008, 2009 and 2010. As the topic has implications for policymaking by both LDC governments and donor countries, the course is designed for delegates of LDCs and their development partners, but it should also be of interest to other developing countries

    Delivered by: Unit on Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries


  • Topic 3

    15 April 2011
    Palais des Nations, room XXII

    Industrial policy and productive integration

    Industrial policy has been pursued by many successful countries, developed and developing countries alike. It has also been a source of policy failure and discord. Thus, the key question is not whether to adopt industrial policy but how to make sure that it is pursued effectively. After reviewing the theoretical and empirical debates surrounding industrial policy and development, the first part of this course will discuss a variety of industrial policy strategies. It will also address the ways in which practical implementation challenges can be overcome. The second part of the course will introduce the idea of a middle-income trap and discuss how industrial policy, including through South–South linkages and cooperation, could help to overcome this trap.

    Delivered by: Division on Globalization and Development Strategies and the Unit on Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries.

  • Topic 4

    20 May 2011
    Palais des Nations, room XXV

    Sovereign debt and debt crises

    Public debt is one of the most powerful instruments of economic policy. As a power tool, it can be used to efficiently achieve one’s goals, but can also cause severe harm. This course will describe the costs and benefits of sovereign borrowing, with particular emphasis on the resolution of sovereign debt crises. This is a timely topic because sovereign debt problems, which only concerned developing countries for the past 50 years, are now percolating to the developed economies as well - the recent predicaments of Greece, Iceland, and Ireland have raised the spectre of a default in a high-income country.

    The first part of this course will review the main trends in public debt in developed and developing economies and discuss why countries borrow, why they sometimes borrow too much, and why they get into debt crises. It will also introduce some legal principles that make sovereign debt different from commercial debt. The second part of the course will focus on ex ante policies aimed at reducing the likelihood of debt crises, and ex post policies aimed at minimizing the cost of debt crises. It will also discuss the pros and cons of creating a mechanism for the resolution of sovereign defaults.

    Delivered by: Division on Globalization and Development Strategies

  • Topic 5

    3 October 2011
    Palais des Nations, Room XXVII

    Reform of the international financial architecture

    A new global financial and monetary system should ensure, on a multilateral basis, the same rules of the game for all parties, just as multilateral trade rules apply to all trading partners. The main idea behind the creation of the International Monetary Fund was precisely to avoid destructive competitive devaluations. In a well-designed global monetary system, the advantages of currency depreciation in one country would have to be balanced against the disadvantages in another. Since changes in the exchange rate that deviate from purchasing power parity affect international trade in a very similar way to changes in tariffs and export duties, such changes should be governed by multilateral regulations. A multilateral regime would, among other things, require countries to specify the reasons for real devaluations and the magnitude of the necessary changes. If such rules were applied strictly, the real exchange rate of all parties would tend to remain more or less constant, since the creation of competitive advantages for specific countries or groups of countries would not likely be accepted.

    Delivered by: Division on Globalization and Development Strategies

  • Topic 6

    24 October 2011

    Palais des Nations, Room XXV

    The general state of food security and agricultural commodity markets in developing countries

    For many developing countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs), commodity trade generates a critical source of income. However, the sector has been characterized by declining terms of trade, price volatility, boom-and-bust cycles, trade barriers, and in most LDCs, a steadily diminishing share in total exports in value terms of primary commodities. All of the above factors have in one way or another had adverse effects on economic growth in commodity-dependent developing countries. Since 2000, certain characteristics of commodity markets have also changed. For example, compared with previous commodity price cycles, a key difference is the large amplitude of price swings for a broad range of agricultural commodities. The recent boom has lasted much longer than previous ones and price volatility in agricultural commodity markets appears to have increased. The first part of the course will examine the contributing factors to the recent price volatility in agricultural commodity markets. It will also consider the implications of this for food security in LDCs. The second part of the course will discuss possible responses to the recent price volatilities in agricultural commodity markets in terms of trade, investment, and agricultural policies and measures at the national, regional and international levels. UNCTAD’s potential contribution to addressing the situation will be highlighted, including by means of a report coordinated by the Group of Twenty and various international organizations, Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses, as well as by the Comprehensive Framework for Action prepared by the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis established by the United Nations Secretary-General.

    Delivered by:  Special Unit on Commodities

  • Topic 7

    12 December 2011

    Palais des Nations,Room XXIII

    Science, technology and innovation for development: Key policy issues

    Science-based technological progress and innovation are key drivers of economic growth and human development. The course will look into how science, technology and innovation enable long-term development and how public policy plays a major role in creating and enhancing a country's ability to harness knowledge and innovation to meet its development challenges. The concept of a national system of innovation will be introduced, and policies to promote its emergence and development will be discussed. The role of various policy instruments to generate national technological capabilities will also be covered. Finally, there will be a discussion of issues related to technology-absorptive capacities to maximize potential for the successful transfer of technology through foreign direct investment, trade, licensing and other mechanisms.

    Delivered by: Division on Technology and Logistics