Commonwealth and UNCTAD expand development cooperation

31 August 2022
Press release
Secretary General of the Commonwealth and Secretary General of UNCTAD shaking hands

The two organisations will broaden their existing cooperation to promote the ocean economy, curb plastic pollution, support least-developed countries, bolster the digital economy and boost gender equality.

The Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCTAD (The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) have today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation in various areas of work.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, and her UNCTAD counterpart, Rebeca Grynspan, signed the MoU at the UNCTAD Headquarters in Geneva.

The five-year agreement brings together the Commonwealth Secretariat’s experience in programmes and policymaking and UNCTAD’s research, analysis and policy work, to help countries make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking on the occasion, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:

“I am delighted that we have renewed our partnership to support our members, especially small island states and least developed countries, to achieve the SDGs. With the world facing multiple crises from climate change to food insecurity, partnerships like ours are indispensable to help tackle these challenges.”

Secretary-General Grynspan on her part said stronger collaboration would enable the two organisations to contribute more to global efforts to tackle the multiple crises facing the world. She said:

“We are pleased to expand our partnership and open a new phase of cooperation in which we will amplify our joint efforts in supporting developing countries to take coordinated action to address cascading crises and build a better future together.”

Decade-long collaboration

The new MoU builds on a decade-long collaboration between the two organisations.

They have worked together on issues related to fisheries, the ocean economy, plastic pollution, least developed countries’ graduation and vulnerability and ensuring trade is part of the solution to the climate crisis.

Under the MoU, the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCTAD will continue to co-organise the biannual UN Oceans Forum, a key meeting on conserving and sustainably using the sea and its resources.

They will share data and information on the development and use of ocean-based goods and services

They will also promote the ocean-based blue economy and circular economy, particularly in relation to fisheries, climate change and plastic pollution.

Besides, they will assist member states in enhancing their green production and export capacity, as well as enabling a sustainable energy transition in developing countries.

Supporting the most vulnerable

The Commonwealth Secretariat and UNCTAD will work on strategies to reduce poverty in vulnerable developing nations, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.

The two organisations will collaborate on research and vulnerability assessments and organise workshops on poverty, absorptive capacity and inequality issues affecting developing countries.

To tackle the debt crisis in developing countries, they will enhance reporting tools to support the new requirements of the World Bank’s external debt reporting system.

They will also collaborate on implementing standards and best practices to help vulnerable economies manage debt sustainably and transparently.

The cooperation agreement also covers work to promote women’s economic empowerment, investment for development, e-commerce, and the digital economy.

The two organisations last signed a cooperation agreement in 2017.



Media contact

  • Angela Kolongo Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7587 881503  |  E-mail