The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the European Union (EU) held a fifth High-Level Dialogue, opened by Gerd Müller, UNIDO Director General, and Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, who was followed by Koen Doens, Director General of DG INTPA; Helena König, Deputy Secretary General EEAS; and Stephan Klement, Head of EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.
The Dialogue followed a visit by Director General Müller to Brussels in March of this year to address the Development Committee of the European Parliament and meet high-level EU officials, where Müller presented the new priorities of the Organization as he took the helm of UNIDO.
The High-Level Dialogue opens the door for a renewed partnership based on the successful experience of past UNIDO-EU cooperation. The two parties signed a Letter of Intent to reaffirm future cooperation, which includes the implementation of four new joint projects across three continents.
During his opening remarks, Director General Müller presented global megatrends that are risking progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Pointing out the state of the world, he emphasized the importance of the UNIDO partnership with the EU in global affairs, noting that “some 800 million people are going hungry. Hunger, energy supply, finance issues – a combination of crises that is hitting every part of the world.”
He also highlighted his priorities for Africa and the need to bring global know-how, investments and technology to the continent: “There is a huge potential for growth and development given the natural resources and energy of young people in Africa. They need to be given opportunities to make a living in their home countries.”
The Dialogue drew on the strong complementary roles of UNIDO and the EU, particularly the EU’s Global Gateway framework. Both sides expressed clear interest in strengthening cooperation in a number of areas, including advancing a just transition to a circular economy, decarbonization, sustainable energy, skills development, agribusiness and food security.
To deepen engagement with the European Commission, Director General Müller also held bilateral talks the European Commissioner for Budget and Administration, the acting Director-Generals for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Climate Action and Agriculture and Rural Development alongside the Commissioner and Director General for International Partnerships.
The visit to Brussels also included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with amfori, a global business association for open and sustainable trade. Amfori’s network of more than 2,400 retailers, importers, brands and associations from more than 40 countries will complement UNIDO expertise and networks to help countries to increase their economic competitiveness by boosting their compliance capacity, enhancing access to cross-border trade.