7 December 2009

Kandeh Yumkella Gets Second Term as UNIDO Director-General, Outlines Priorities for Next Four Years

VIENNA, 7 December (UN Information Service) - Kandeh K. Yumkella of Sierra Leone was today re-appointed for a second term as the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) during the Organization's General Conference, Thirteenth Session.

The event in Vienna, held from 7 to 11 December, is being attended by Heads of State and Government, including the President of Iceland, the Prime Ministers of Kenya, Lesotho and Tanzania, and other high-ranking officials from around the world. Senior representatives of international organizations are also taking part.

This year's General Conference has a thematic focus on "green industries" and the opportunities they offer for developing countries in the current economic circumstance. This will serve to highlight the role of industry in finding solutions to emerging and global challenges faced by these countries in achieving their developmental objectives within a framework of environmental sustainability.

Speaking about the future of UNIDO, Yumkella said he would continue to make sure the Organization was "a trusted, efficient and effective partner for development". "We are now recognized as an agency with a mandate focused on achieving international development goals, and dedicated to building partnerships within the UN system and beyond," he said. "All developed nations have harnessed industry as the main driver of their prosperity, and it is still the best hope for ending poverty's reign over the so-called "Bottom Billion" of humankind."

According to the Director-General, UNIDO's three thematic priorities - Poverty Reduction through Productive Activities, Trade Capacity Building and Energy and Environment - will remain at the centre of operations. Capacity building, technology transfer, policy and institutional support, gender, and sustainability will underlie these priorities. "By mainstreaming these essential elements across all of our activities, UNIDO can ensure that the aim of growth and competitiveness is reached," he said.

Yumkella announced the creation of two major cross-organizational initiatives, on Industrial Upgrading and Enterprise competitiveness, and on Greening Industry.

Addressing recent global development trends, Yumkella said that a positive trend was emerging in favour of investments into green industry. Some reports suggest that about 15 per cent of global stimulus packages in 2009 are "green" and include investments in technologies, infrastructure and strategies to combat climate change. The cost of producing renewable energy is dropping fast. A rapid increase in production of solar panels and wind turbines has led to a 50 per cent and 20 per cent drop in unit prices respectively in 2009 alone.

He said that it was not possible to think of a country's economic growth as a purely internal process, adding: "Manufacturing has become globally integrated, and is shifting in the direction of developing countries at an increasing pace. But not all developing countries and regions are growing together. Commodities now account for less than 8 per cent of global trade - the rest is in higher value products. A number of developing countries - many in Asia - have long realized this need to trade up, and are managing the transition well through sound industrial policy."

The Director-General also said that adding value must be "one goal for growth in the coming century. So too must economic diversification, especially for those countries with an abundance of tradable natural resources. Diversification provides security against volatility, and extends the benefits of growth to the many instead of the few. Malaysia is an example of a country that used the boon of natural resources - in its case oil and gas revenues - first to fuel an agribusiness-led industrialization model, and later to build a fully diversified economy."

Yumkella indicated that climate change was a major challenge conditioning developing prospects and the quality of life. "Climate change can be effectively addressed through a new, sustainable trajectory of growth in which industry adopts a low-carbon and resource-efficient means of production. Rather than limiting growth, a Green Industrial Revolution could and should form the core of our response to climate change, and may be our best hope of sustainable recovery from the economic crisis. The potential is there for new, clean, methods of production; industries focusing on mitigation and adaptation services; and greater use of renewable energy," he said.

In the last decade, UNIDO has more than doubled its technical cooperation services despite the fact its regular budget has not grown. "In our Medium-term Programme Framework 2010-2013, we established an overarching development objective - "industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability" - that better defines the role we play in contributing to international development goals such as the Millennium Development Goals," added Yumkella.

In the past four years, UNIDO has also strengthened its normative function, helping to find common global standards that nations can agree to, for example on industrial energy efficiency, and corporate social responsibility.

Yumkella heads the new high-level Advisory Group that advises the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on energy and climate change challenges. He also chairs the inter-agency coordination mechanism known as UN-Energy.

The General Conference, UNIDO's highest policymaking organ, brings together representatives of the Organization's 173 Member States. It will also approve the programme and budgets and establish the scale assessments for regular budget expenditures for the forthcoming biennium.

* *** *

For further information, please contact:

George Assaf
Spokesperson, UNIDO
Telephone: (+43-1) 26026-3849
Email: g.assaf@unido.org

Website: www.unido.org