This year's meeting was attended by 23 members from the Vi network's academic community, representing its core membership of 23 universities as well as self-funded participants from other partner universities in member countries. It was the biggest meeting yet and reflected the growth of the network from the original 12 members at the first meeting in 2005.
Launched at UNCTAD XI in Sao Paulo, the Virtual Institute (Vi) is now firmly established as one of UNCTAD's core technical cooperation programmes, helping countries to strengthen the capacities of their knowledge institutions to teach and research on trade and development, and to feed research-based analysis into the policymaking process.
Having expanded and consolidated its core membership and services in the initial stages of the project, the Vi has for the past year been concentrating on devolving its activities to member countries and broadening participation in the network at its member universities. This year's meeting evaluated that process and discussed the joint projects of the network in the areas of teaching and research, as well as looked ahead to the future of the network, including areas of further joint cooperation, such as research.
This year's meeting, from the 4th to the 8th February, was held in the run up to UNCTAD XII in Ghana and was open not only to members of the network but also to the Vi's partners, including missions and donors. As well as discussing areas of joint cooperation and agreeing the work plan for the network, the meeting also offered substantive sessions for discussion among the membership. Of particular interest to members was the keynote speech by Heiner Flassbeck on the International Financial System on Monday the 4th February, in which he addressed the role of exchange rate management and regional financial cooperation, as well as new financial instruments - issues that were anaylsed in last year's Trade and Development Report.
Also of interest, was the round table on RTAs and regionalism on Wednesday the 6th February, with discussants from the World Bank, the Univeristy of Geneva, the European Commission, the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, the World Trade Institute, the WTO and UNCTAD. The discussion covered several areas, notably the interface between RTAs and the multilateral trading system and the impact of RTAs for development, by looking at recent north-south and south-south RTAs as well as current economic analysis of RTAs.
Further information about the meeting is available by clicking here.