The United Arab Emirates makes history with today’s announcement of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, a groundbreaking outcome from the 18th Session of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) General Conference. In an unprecedented move, UNIDO’s Member States, who had gathered in Abu Dhabi for the General Conference, have agreed to join forces in calling on the global private sector to form a coalition to advance Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development. This first-of-its-kind agenda will address the pressing need for a global alliance made up of organisations from the private sector to focus on working towards a shared vision for global prosperity.


UNIDO Member States has adopted the Abu Dhabi Declaration as part of UNIDO’s mandate to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 9 which aims to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’. The governments of all the member countries will now work in tandem with their private sectors and across borders to enhance public-private partnerships and thereby advance inclusive economic growth and bolster sustainable development.


In a video message to the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “UNIDO plays an important role in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I commend your focus on harnessing the potential of new technologies. Through your partnerships with governments and the private sector, you can help drive job creation, technology transfer, and investments. Your work also helps to combat the climate crisis by facilitating the transition to circular economies, low carbon growth, the greening of infrastructure and the reduction of industrial emissions.”


Named after the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Abu Dhabi Declaration will set the roadmap to create a global alliance of private sector companies that will work towards a common vision of making industrialisation more inclusive, and sustainable. In calling for heightened collaboration and a shift away from private-sector competition, the landmark declaration aims to encourage the private sector to look beyond financial returns and to adopt a more holistic worldview championing sustainability and global prosperity.


The Abu Dhabi Declaration also builds on the UAE’s history of leveraging public-private partnerships as a conduit to building its national economy led by rapid development and industrialisation. It also exemplifies the country’s firm belief in global alliances to meet ambitious multi-region development goals.


The UAE has shown a huge commitment to the political, economic and cultural empowerment of women. This commitment is enshrined in institutions such as the UAE Gender Balance Council. Moreover, women are engaged in the political decision-making process across the UAE. They are also at the heart of business in the private sector, with over 23,000 business women in the country heading funds estimated at over US$ 12.5 billion.


The Abu Dhabi Declaration highlights the important role of spreading prosperity overseas in order to leave no country behind. The private sector is encouraged to progress with social and environmental objectives as well as financial spheres, with emphasis placed on a triple bottom line. In this regard, the UAE has a strong track record of being one of the world’s largest donors of development assistance in proportion to Gross National Income (GNI). Since its inception in 1971, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has disbursed billions of dollars to support projects in developing countries to help achieve inclusive and sustainable development and reduce poverty. Through Masdar, the UAE promotes the international sustainability agenda, investing in renewable energy, protecting oceans, and rewarding the most innovative solutions from all over the world every year through the Zayed Sustainability Prize.


His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFA), said: “The UAE has long advocated for alliances and partnerships to advance the march of progress and humanity. Now, we are calling for collaboration and co-operation on a global scale to take advantage of the opportunities technology and automation can bring, while working together to ensure that challenges are addressed.”


The Abu Dhabi Declaration acknowledges the transformative and disruptive potential of new technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, referencing the opportunities these deliver to advance inclusive economic growth, reduce inequalities and contribute to sustainable development, resilience, and human well-being. In particular, the Abu Dhabi Declaration explicitly calls for increased and stronger private sector co-operation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


Under the Abu Dhabi Declaration, the global private sector should elevate to become crucial stakeholders in developing a circular economy – a concept that preserves and enhances capital by deploying renewables and encouraging conservation. It also optimises resource yields by recycling materials to where they are most needed. The Abu Dhabi Declaration also supports prosperity for developing countries by scaling up UNIDO programmes supporting technology transfer, innovation, and learnings for SMEs, women and the youth.


LI Yong, Director General of UNIDO said: “The Declaration underlines the crucial role of UNIDO as a platform to coordinate and catalyze initiatives of the private sector, ideally by establishing a global alliance of private sector manufacturers for inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Looking into the future and the technological changes that are already taking place, this Declaration also makes it very clear that we need to make best use of frontier technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”


The Abu Dhabi Declaration reinforces the UAE’s position as the custodian of crucial issues relating to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The UAE-led declaration is calling for concerted action to promote development while addressing the challenges of potential job losses, widening technology gaps between developed and emerging markets, and threats to industrial safety and security in the Industry 4.0 era.


H.E. Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy & Industry and President of the 18th UNIDO General Conference said: “With the declaration, we start a new chapter of delivery in the far-reaching UNIDO programmes. The UAE and UNIDO share a close partnership and we will continue working together for the benefit of all. We would like to see projects that are benefitting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution from the member states. It is widely known that the UAE is firmly committed to driving forward the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a sustainable and responsible way, leaving no country behind. We are a major donor to sustainable industrial projects all over the world, proudly announcing many projects, and we will continue working on these valuable initiatives with UNIDO.”


The Emirate, Abu Dhabi, capital of United Arab Emirates, has driven a host of cutting-edge technological initiatives to ensure that the country and its capital are at the forefront of this period of significant global transformation that brings with it new opportunities and challenges.


The Abu Declaration is continuation of a global industrial partnership that was first converged by the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit – a joint initiative by UNIDO and the UAE Ministry of Energy and Industry which was launched in 2015. As the world’s first and only global gathering for the manufacturing sector, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit has been held in both the United Arab Emirates and Russia, with a third summit planned for next year in Germany. By bringing together thousands from the manufacturing community at each of its forums, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit has established over 100 partnerships with the private sector and launched a global good initiative that leverages manufacturing and technology to resolve socio-economic challenges, especially in Least Developed Countries, through a public, private and academic partnership.


Badr Al-Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit said: “The UAE has a strong track record of establishing Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) as a fundamental pillar of its national development over the past decades, working in tandem with the private sector to channel their expertise and capital towards all areas of economic development and diversification strategies. The Abu Dhabi Declaration amplifies the call for the private sector to mobilise and join forces with governments, international organisations and civil society to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development on a global level.”


The five-day UNIDO General Conference, held for the first time in the Middle East and North African region, convened in Abu Dhabi from 3-7 November and brought together Heads of State and Ministers, experts from the private and public sector, as well as NGOs under the theme of ‘Industry 2030 – Innovate. Connect. Transform our Future’. H.E. Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the UAE Minister of Energy and Industry, was announced President of the 18th Session of the UNIDO General Conference.

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