(Geneva, 29 January 2015)

Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD,
Mr. Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre,
H.E. Ms. Cecilia Rebong,
Distinguished delegates,

As I come to the end of my chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China in Geneva, allow me to share with you some thoughts as I hand over this great distinction to my successor.

The year of my chairmanship was full of promise, full of meaning, and full of opportunities. We began the year with the promise of making a historic impact on the broader global work on development. I therefore began my chairmanship with the ambition to complete our work on the Geneva Platform on Development as well as to fully operationalize the Developedia. I also appealed to all of you to work with me in motivating our respective governments to provide the Geneva Chapter with the resources required to fulfill our ambitions.

I also emphasized the inclusive nature of my chairmanship and the need to involve all members of the Group. I was cognizant then, and even more so now, of the very heavy responsibility of being Chairman of the G-77 and of the great honor that attaches to the office. I also embraced the democratic nature of the group and its deeply-held principle that all countries, even small ones such as mine, should have the opportunity to lead this great group.

As I reach the last few minutes of this great honor, I am happy to share with you that I am proud of what we accomplished together. We were able to have accelerated discussions based on our work on the Geneva Platform and made an impressive and meaningful contribution to the outcome of the G-77 summit held in June in Bolivia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of UNCTAD. We created the Gamani Corea Forum here in Geneva to strengthen the intellectual capacity of the Group. And we stood firm and stood proud together as a group in advancing our interests in the intergovernmental machinery of UNCTAD.

In this regard, I would like to especially thank Mr. Raphael Hermoso of the Philippines, Mr. Mike Chigiji of Zimbabwe, Mr. Mohammed Nasr of Egypt, Mr. Carlos Troya of Ecuador, and Messrs. Leulseged Taddesse of Ethiopia and Mr. Bassel Saleh of Egypt who are now in capital. They spearheaded many negotiations on our behalf and proved that the strength of the G-77 lies in the quality of its talent, and the solidarity and generosity of its members.

The promise and potential of the Group therefore translated into meaningful action through our regular work in Geneva, as well as through our contributions to the broader work of the G-77 and China. We made an impact. And we seized the opportunities.

These opportunities remain before us, and we must seize upon them before they are gone. Under our new Chair, Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, we must intensify and enhance our contributions to the broader work of the G-77. We must provide solid inputs to the G-77 preparations for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. We must provide concrete contributions and ideas in the process to articulate the post-2015 development agenda. But perhaps more meaningfully in the long-term, we should seize the opportunity to strengthen the very G-77 itself.

We can do this in several, inter-connected ways.

First, we must strengthen the institutional capacity of our chapter. We must intensify even further our fraternal and symbiotic relationship with UNCTAD and provide it with the tools - financial and political - to enable it to fulfill its destiny and mandate as the development institution of and for developing countries. This includes our reclaiming lost ground in the inter-governmental machinery, as well as working more closely with the secretariat to ensure that UNCTAD continues on the right path. We as developing countries should also intensify our financial contributions to UNCTAD to enable it to do the analytical work that we want, and that we require. In very real terms, our contributions will enable us to escape the shackles of consensus that have held UNCTAD back, and that have also served to slow our progress.

Second, we should provide resources to the G-77 trust fund at UNCTAD to enable us to expand our activities as a Group, including relating and working hand in hand with the other chapters. We could also consider the practice of other G-77 chapters of leveling an annual voluntary contribution to ensure that there is an adequate working fund to enable the chapter to function in the best way possible. Indeed, this was one of the most important points we discussed at the very successful chapters meeting of the G-77 that we hosted in Geneva in April of 2014.

Third, we need to continue our fundamental re-examination of the issues and interests of our Group to ensure that we remain vital and effective. Many of us have expressed the need for continued G-77 solidarity. Many of us have also expressed the need for our ambassadors to be more active and involved in the work of the chapter as well as in the inter-governmental machinery of UNCTAD. This will only happen when we ourselves recognize once more that there is much at stake, and that we stand to lose from a lack of engagement and activity.

We can embark on this path by agreeing to resolutely prepare not only for UNCTAD XIV, but also the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the G-77 and China that we hold on this important occasion. In earlier years, that ministerial meeting had great importance on its own and represented the culmination of much work in Geneva and at the regional level. That meeting was the pinnacle of the work of the G-77 globally. It is time perhaps to restore some of the profile and some of the luster that this meeting has lost. It is time perhaps for the G-77 ministerial to have importance of its own. We should therefore see the G-77 ministerial as an important event in its own right, where we as the global South can take meaningful and confident decisions, so that we can continue to advance regardless of the degree of consensus we reach with the partners at UNCTAD XIV.

As I close these remarks and as I move on to the next item of the agenda and formally install my successor, allow me to extend to her my full faith in confidence in the future. She inherits more than a group; she inherits a cause. And in this cause she is ably supported by the membership, as well as the Secretary-General of UNCTAD and his team. Allow me especially to thank Mr. Miguel Bautista and his small but hardworking unit of Yvette Fernandez and Rima Kebbe. I am grateful for all of their efforts and hard work. I am proud of them. Indeed they were recognized at the G-77 Chapters meeting as the best support mechanism in the G-77. They are part of what makes G-77 in Geneva special.

Madam Rebong, you inherit and excellent group; you inherit an excellent secretariat. You also inherit a wealth of opportunities to make history. You can count on me to help you to accomplish the great things that we all continue to aspire for.

Thank you.