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Development Account Projects

Strengthening capacities for policy-oriented analysis of key global development challenges at developing country universities


International trade can play a positive role in pro-poor growth and sustainable human development in developing countries, in support of MDG Goal 1. It can create employment, enhance access to technology and knowledge, raise productivity, increase the variety and quality of goods available to consumers, stimulate capital inflows, increase foreign exchange earĀ¬nings, and generate resources for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

In respect to the least developed countries, the project also contributes to the objectives of the Istanbul Programme of Action adopted at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in May 2011, in particular those relating to the need to integrate trade and trade capacity-building policies into national development strategies of these countries, and to support their efforts to strengthen their human, institutional and regulatory capacities in trade policy and trade negotiations.

Finally, the project is fully in line with international objectives in the area of trade-related capacity building (TRCB) aiming to assist developing and the least developed countries to strengthen/build their capacity to maximize the contribution of trade to their economic and social development, such as the Aid for Trade Initiative, and the Enhanced Integrated Framework for the Least Developed Countries

The purpose of this project therefore is to build on this experience by bringing it from the national/regional to a global level, corresponding to the global nature of both the Vi membership and the development challenges faced, and involving additional players - policymakers - in a more systematic manner.


The project aims to help strengthen the capacity of developing country academics to conduct policy-oriented analysis of key developmental challenges, in particular the challenge related to the potential contribution of trade to poverty reduction, and foster their cooperation with policymakers

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Knowledge of participating academics enhanced on data sources, tools, methods and policy relevant research questions on trade and poverty
  • Capacity of participating academics strengthened on the application of knowledge on data sources, tools, methods and research questions on trade and poverty to specific policy-oriented research projects relevant to their countries
  • Interaction/collaboration enhanced between academics and policymakers

Implementation Status:

The implementation of project activities by the UNCTAD Virtual Institute (Vi) started on 1 January 2012 and is well on track within an internal 3-year time schedule.

The first year of implementation was dedicated to Phase 1/Activity 1 of the project - the development and delivery of online training on trade and poverty for developing and transition country academics (capacity building for academics through training). This activity was completed in full, resulting in the following outputs: (a) a 6-module teaching material on data sources, tools and methods related to trade and poverty analysis, (b) an online platform ("Vi e-learning") for the delivery of the course (http://vi.unctad.org/tap12) and a DVD with course material for offline study, and (c) a delivery of the online course. In preparation for Phase 2/Activity 2, scheduled for 2013, the top graduates of the online course were invited to submit full research proposals on trade and poverty in their countries, utilizing the skills learned in the course; they were also sensitized, through an online discussion forum and e-mail interaction, to policy-relevant research questions and the need to cooperate with policymakers to increase policy intake of their work.

Seventy-seven researchers, including 29 women, from 45 developing and transition countries successfully completed the course on trade and poverty, surpassing the original target set in the project by 54 per cent. Results achieved by the participants during the course show that they have acquired knowledge of data sources, tools, methods and policy-relevant research questions required for the analysis of trade and poverty. They successfully passed end-of-module knowledge-checking tests, applied the knowledge of data, tools and methods for trade and poverty analysis to a final hands-on exercise on the impact of trade on gender, and drafted an essay proposing a research idea on a trade and poverty issue of relevance to their countriesā€™ policymaking. In the end-of-course evaluation questionnaires, 94 per cent of participants said that the course had "extremely" (highest of the 5 ratings) or "very much" (second highest of possible ratings) enhanced their knowledge in the area covered by the course; and 97 per cent stated that they could now independently or in partnership with a more experienced researcher undertake policy-relevant research on trade and poverty, and/or teach their students about the tools and methods used in the analysis of trade and poverty.