Aerial view of Bridgetown Barbados

The 15th session of the UNCTAD quadrennial ministerial conference (UNCTAD15) will be held virtually between Barbados and Geneva from 3 to 7 October 2021, with pre-conference events running online throughout the year, starting from April 2021.

The conference is the highest decision-making body of UNCTAD at which member states assess current trade and development issues and formulate global policy responses. It also sets the organization’s work priorities for the next four years.

UNCTAD15 comes at a time when there is a need to reignite a spirit of optimism and collaboration globally, not only to solve the twin challenges of inequality and vulnerability but to ensure trade thrives and is a driver of development. UNCTAD15 advocates for a world in which all countries, especially developing countries, have an equal chance of using the positive benefits of trade to developmental ends. The conference presents an opportunity to reframe solutions and build a new solidarity not only among the global south, and on trade-related issues, but also in response to new and abiding global challenges that impact our sustainable development ambitions.

Building on the UNCTAD14 theme, which emphasized the need to move from decision to action, the UNCTAD15 conference seeks a concrete decade of action in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals focused on reducing inequality and vulnerability by ensuring trade works for all and that development remains high on the global agenda. Our theme, “From inequality and vulnerability to prosperity for all”, is a clarion call to work to fix the fractures across the world to build prosperity for all.

About our ministerial conferences


UNCTAD’s ministerial conference takes place every four years. The conference is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly. It is also the highest decision-making body of UNCTAD. Widely attended by stakeholders in development, including heads of state and government, ministers and representatives of governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and the private sector, it traditionally sets UNCTAD's work programme and priorities.

Through formal and informal sessions, the conference provides the platform for dialogue on the key and emerging issues affecting the global economy. Here policy global policy options and responses are discussed and formulated. The conference also serves an important political function: it enables intergovernmental consensus-building regarding the state of the world economy and development policies. In doing so it plays a key role in identifying how the United Nations and UNCTAD can help address economic development difficulties.

The conference includes high-level round tables on crucial issues in the international economic debate. Informal thematic side events and forums are also held to promote and stimulate interactive discussions on important development issues.

UNCTAD15 map of previous con

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