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UNIDO General Conference opens with calls for solutions, finance and partnerships

27 November 2023

screens at 20th GC opening

VIENNA - The 20th session of the General Conference of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has opened under the theme of “Fair Globalization: Innovative Solutions for the Industry of Tomorrow". This General Conference aims to forge new pathways to sustainability, digital inclusivity and economic resilience, with an emphasis on how inclusive and sustainable industrial development can support sustainable supply chains, limit climate breakdown and contribute to ending hunger worldwide.

In his opening address, UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller told the packed hall, “More global solidarity is needed. We need to rethink the global economy. We need new rules for globalization - a fair globalization with development opportunities for all. Industrialized countries must fulfill their promises and commitments.”

Müller continued, "We have reformed UNIDO, made it leaner, more efficient and more effective. We have substantially increased our technical cooperation implementation, are making steady progress on gender equality and empowerment of women, and strengthened our regional approaches.”

High-level speakers included Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, who shared the scope and extent of his country’s multi-sector growth-focused reforms. He said, “By pursuing inclusive and sustainable industrialization and diversifying our economy, we can create prosperity, reduce inequality, and contribute to a better future for our people and the world.”

The President of the UN ECOSOC, Paula Narváez of Chile, maintained that  “through sustainable industrialization and inclusive industrial policy, we have the means to generate economic growth and address critical socio-economic needs, while safeguarding the health of our planet.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Dennis Francis, President of the UN General Assembly, told delegates, “UNIDO’s role in facilitating knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and training and capacity building is absolutely crucial and I commend you for maintaining high impact delivery of these services.”

In a typically forthright address, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, said, “The world is on fire – literally and figuratively. We need to change course. UNIDO and its member states have a major role to play. We need action. We need policy directions and advice, supported by financing. We need partnership. We need compassion. We need opportunity for small countries to be seen, felt and heard.”  

During an Industrial Innovation Forum, which followed the opening segment, high-level speakers from governments, industry, academia and financial institutions identified tangible solutions to the shared challenges of food system transformation, fostering sustainable supply chains and the threats posed by climate change.

In his remarks summarizing the forum, UNIDOs Müller reiterated that “the solutions do indeed exist: we just need to get up, get together, and act to make them reality.”

He continued, “All that is missing is the political will to finally act decisively, and that is what we must join together to demand. UNIDO will continue to push the fact that industry is far from being part of the problem. No, indeed, industry is central to the solutions!”

Hall at 20th GC opening
DG at 20th GC opening
20th GC platform