(Geneva, 17 March 2011)

Dear Colleagues and friends,

1. Before I hand over the Chairmanship to my successor, I would like to share with you some thoughts and reflections on the past year, and on the work ahead.

2. At the outset, I would like to thank you all for your contributions, support, and dedication to the common aspirations of the Group, and its collective work in Geneva in advancing the Group's development agenda. Through your support, hard work, and dedication, the Geneva Chapter was able to accomplish much in 2010, which put the Group on a firmer footing to accomplish much more in 2011 and beyond.

3. I would like to extend a special thanks to my expert, Mr. Fidel Ortega, who sadly had to leave Geneva prematurely. I am sure that you will agree that he was an excellent delegate, and an exemplary coordinator who truly made a difference in the work of the Group.

4. I would also like to thank Dr. Supachai for all the support that UNCTAD has extended to me and my colleagues, especially the Group Liaison Unit for their excellent work, dedication, and professionalism. I would like to particularly thank its Chief, our friend Miguel Bautista, the Filipino Latino, whose leadership of the Unit helped us to strengthen the Group in terms of substance and in establishing a firmer institutional foundation for our work, and Yvette Fernández for her diligence and dedication.

Strategic strengthening of the Geneva Chapter

5. This support enabled us to pursue a two-pronged strategy to strengthen the Geneva Chapter on two levels: at the institutional level, we tried to establish a more agile manner of work to take into account the faster pace of negotiations. We also sought to promote greater quality in our work as a Chapter, while at the same time pursuing greater continuity and coherence.

Ambassadorial-level retreat

6. In order to consolidate this work, we organized an ambassadorial-level retreat in May 2010 which afforded us the opportunity to chart the course of the year. I believe that it also reminded us of the importance of ambassadors remaining engaged in UNCTAD, and setting the direction and guidance for the day to day work of our experts.

7. That retreat allowed us to reflect on our previous work, and on the many tasks before the Geneva Chapter. Through our reflections and discussions, we were able to launch several initiatives which I believe will continue to contribute to our work.

Geneva Platform

8. The first major innovation, in my view, was the launching of a process to elaborate a Geneva Platform on development. One common thread in our discussions at the retreat was the need for the Geneva Chapter to update its positions where necessary, and to embark on a new approach which reflects today's realities and dynamics. This need for a new more pragmatic and agile approach, led to several meetings of the Group in which key issues of importance were discussed with a view of elaborating an initial draft text.

9. My hope is that this elaboration will continue and that the Geneva Platform will be concretized soon and will be an important input to the preparations for UNCTAD XIII, as well as a major contribution of the Geneva Chapter to other development-related processes including the forthcoming Third South Summit, Rio plus 20, follow-up to the international conference on the global economic and financial crisis, and of course the road towards 2015 and beyond.

Chairman's Background Notes

10. Through the course of the year we pursued the practice of preparing background notes to help the group focus its thinking and to better coordinate its positions. We believe that these CBNs should be continued, and I am happy to see that the incoming Chair has already issued his first CBN, on the theme and sub-themes of the forthcoming UNCTAD XIII.

Development Wiki

11. During the course of the year, we also agreed on the need to strengthen the technical capacity of our experts, and to that end pursue further work on the establishment of a "Development Wiki" to give our negotiators instantaneous access to information resources in preparation for and during negotiations.

12. During our Chairmanship, we began the initial work of conceptualizing the platform, including identifying the key features that the development wiki should have. We look forward to continued work on refining the key aspects pertaining to its establishment and in this regard, I would like to express my appreciation for the moral and financial support that the Government of China has extended for the establishment of the Development Wiki, and we look forward to its speedy operationalization in time for the UNCTAD XIII negotiations.

Vice Chairman of the Geneva Chapter

13. Another key initiative launched by the Ambassadorial-level retreat was to promote greater continuity and predictability in the functioning of the Geneva Chapter. In that regard, initial steps were taken to resume the long-standing practice of having a Vice Chairman of the Chapter to assist the Chairman when necessary, and to provide the necessary continuity especially in key periods such as the current one. I hope that the Chapter will soon operationalize the resumption of this practice which was discontinued in part because of the lack of institutional support from UNCTAD, which clearly is no longer the case.

14. While we were not able to name a Vice Chairman during our term, the need for the resumption of the mechanism became evident in the latter part of 2010 when my delegation faced considerable challenges in coordinating the Group. Nevertheless, the Group was able to function well thanks to various continuity mechanisms we instituted as a result of the ambassadorial-level retreat, and I would like to thank the Ambassador of Egypt, H.E. Hisham Badr and his colleague Mr. Bassel Salah, for the considerable assistance they extended to us during the latter part of 2010.

Consistency of the Group's substantive message

15. Thanks to the collective efforts of the Group, we made significant impacts on the intergovernmental machinery of UNCTAD. In so doing, we developed and articulated the Geneva Chapter's three new Ps of development: political will, policy space, and productive capacity.

16. This consistency of message was articulated in the commission meetings, and the Trade and Development Board where we emphasized the need to apply the lessons learned from the global economic and financial crisis including placing development at the center of the global economic system and reforming the global economic architecture accordingly; second, the need to address economic fundamentals including building productive capacities and generating employment; and third, the need to evolve more effective approaches to development. These key messages remain relevant and should form part of the core message of the Group going into UNCTAD XIII.

17. The focus which such consistency bred, and the consequent strengthening of the negotiating capacity of our chapter, contributed in large part of what we consider to be a highly successful review of the implementation of the Accra Accord. The effective manner in which we pursued our interests, and the manner in which our experts skillfully and constructively engaged with the developed partners, led to a successful and substantive outcome, and to a positive climate which continues to positively influence the preparations for UNCTAD XIII.

Contributing to the work of other chapters

18. The Geneva Chapter also contributed actively to the work of the other chapters. We continued to provide inputs to New York for follow-up to major conferences and summits on development, including the 2010 MDG review, as well as preparations for LDC IV.

19. We also encouraged the UNCTAD secretariat to work more closely with the support units of other chapters in order to strengthen the global Group of 77 and China. To that end, we encouraged the convening of a meeting of Chiefs of the units supporting the various chapters of the Group, on the sidelines of the forthcoming ECOSOC in July this year, and on the sidelines of a possible Chapters meeting. Such a move, particularly in this strategic time, would be of great benefit not only to the global G-77 and China but also to the broader work of the United Nations on development.

Closing thoughts

20. I would like to close these final remarks as Chair of the Geneva Chapter with some thoughts and observations.

21. First, we must continuously remind ourselves of the symbiotic relationship between the Group of 77 and China and UNCTAD. The Group of 77 and China needs a strong UNCTAD in order to achieve its development goals and objectives. At the same time, UNCTAD needs a strong Group of 77 and China to survive and to remain relevant. I therefore hope that more ambassadors will take a personal and direct interest in UNCTAD matters. We also count on the continued support from UNCTAD, and the excellent support we receive from Miguel and his team. Indeed, we encourage Dr. Supachai to find ways and means to further strengthen the capacity of the Liaison Unit, and the resources it has upon its disposal to support the Group.

22. Second and related to this, is the need to ensure that UNCTAD XIII results in a strong substantive outcome which reinforces UNCTAD's role as a key player in development. It is my hope that in the year ahead we will continue to see workshops and seminars which cover both substantive issues, as well as the skills needed by newer members of the Geneva Chapter.

23. Third, as we prepare for UNCTAD XIII, the Group must continue redoubling its efforts to strengthen its capacity both in terms of substance and in terms of its negotiating skills and capacity. We therefore look to UNCTAD and South Centre in order to ensure that we receive the required support.

24. Finally, I wish to encourage all of you to continue supporting the Chair. I for one pledge my continued support, and that of my delegation. And I look forward to a fruitful and highly successful chairmanship of Ambassador Maruping.