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General Conference, Eighth session

Daily Highlights: 30 November 1999

Morning plenary meeting: UNIDO Forum on Sustainable Industrial Development

Panel 2: "Globalization of production systems and implications for developing countries and economies in transition - upgrading of local competitiveness"

The debate raised very important issues regarding the business-level implications of globalization for industrial development in developing countries and economies in transition. Moderated by Frederic Richard, UNIDO Director of Industrial Policies and Research, the panel on Globalization of production systems and implications for developing countries and economies in transition - upgrading of local competitiveness showed that the globalization of production systems brought both opportunities and dangers. On the one hand, it provided these countries with new opportunities for accessing markets and resources, upgrading skills and knowledge, and stimulating the development of local supplier networks. On the other, it gave rise to increased competition between them to attract global firms - if this competition was based on cheap labour and tax incentives, it could drive developing countries and economies in transition into a trap of increased industrial activities without accompanying income growth.

The panelists offered a number of policy recommendations based on their analytical and empirical research. Dr. Schmitz, Fellow of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, examined the effect of the globalization of value chains in an increasing number of industries. Mr. Didier Lombard, Ambassador at-large, Special Representative of the French Government for International Investment, pointed out the growing importance of FDI as a driver of growth as well as the importance of maintaining an investor-friendly policy framework. Dr. Claudio Frischtak, Managing Partner Worldinvest Brazil showed that skill development, the creation of infrastructure and institutional capacity-building are indispensable prerequisites for upgrading local competitiveness.

Afternoon plenary meeting: UNIDO Forum on Sustainable Industrial Development

Panel 3: "Industrialization Facing Environmental Challenges - Specific Contributions to Solving Large Problems"

The Panel dealt with the important issues of industrial development and environmental protection. Speakers yielded an important message that while industry has traditionally been a major source of environmental stress, it also created new methods and technologies to minimize this environmental threat and even to reverse some of the damage that has already been done.

Professor Jacquie M. McGlade, Director of the Centre for Coastal and Marine Sciences Natural Environment Research Council, UK, and a member of the panel, provided an important analytical and conceptual framework for assessing the environmental implications of industrial development. Based on this framework, Professor McGlade offered a number of highly relevant policy recommendations about how to link people, resources and energy to reduce the environmental burden of industrial development.

A presentation of another panelist Mr. Edward C. Yeh, President of Synder, Inc., USA, showed that the use of cleaner and environmental sound technologies could be commercially and economically viable. He said that UNIDO could act as an incubator for the transfer of new environmentally-friendly technologies to developing countries.

In his presentation, the panelist Mr. Edwin P.D. Barnes, Chief Director of Ministry of Environment of Ghana, highlighted his experience in managing the problems posed by post-consumer plastic wastes. In an attempt to reduce the environmental threat posed by industrial growth, Mr. Barnes indicated his country's interest in establishing a UNIDO/UNEP National Cleaner Production Centre.

In turn, the Head of the Republic of Komi, Russian Federation, exlained how the use of environmentally safe production technologies could result in increased profits, even if they are more expensive at the beginning.

Cahit Gurkok, UNIDO Director of Industrial Energy Efficiency Branch, stressed the importance of energy for industrial development, as well as the inequality in global energy consumption and difference in the efficiency of energy use in developed and developing countries. He indicated a variety of energy strategies aimed at combining cost reduction and environmental benefits in order to bring solutions to energy issues.

In his conclusion, Zoltan Csizer, UNIDO Director of the Cleaner Production and Environmental Management Branch and moderator of the Panel, stressed that the society driven by consumption transformed natural resources into wastes as a human economic activity. These consumption patterns have to be changed and as a consequence the production patters will also change in order to use natural resources in more responsible way. UNIDO offers a partnership in this venture, he said.