A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


On November 14, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Supachai Panitchpakdi, decided to merge the activities of the Virtual Institute with those of the Global Network of Development Think Tanks, established in 2008 by the member States of UNCTAD, and managed by the Division of Globalization and Development Strategies, where the Vi now resides.

"Through the integration of UNCTAD's work with universities and research centres, UNCTAD will continue to support the development of local teaching and research capacities in member countries and cooperation among academic institutions and between researchers and policymakers," wrote Panitchpakdi.

Two think tanks have already answered the call to take part in the Vi network.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh aims to enhance national capacity for economy-wide policy analyses, foster regional cooperation in poverty alleviation, trade, investment, transport and other key areas, and addresses issues which concern Bangladesh's effective integration into the process of globalization. With a staff of 71, CPD is a nongovernmental civil society think tank involved in knowledge generation, policy influencing and awareness-raising, and capacity building. Its research areas include: trade; regional cooperation and global integration; investment promotion; infrastructure and enterprise development; macroeconomic performance analysis; agriculture and rural development; eradication of poverty; climate change and environment; human development and social protection; development governance; and policies and institutions.

CPD's Executive Director, Mustafizur Rahman, professor of Economics at the Faculty of Business Studies of the University of Dhaka, with a PhD in Economics, will serve as Vi member coordinator. His current research interests include trade-related issues, particularly trade policies and reforms in Bangladesh and South Asian countries; regional trading cooperation and free trade area in South Asia; the trade-poverty nexus; the multilateral trading system; and WTO negotiations and interests of LDCs.

Working with Rahman will be Distinguished Fellow, Debapriya Bhattacharya, holder of a PhD in Economics and former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the WTO, UN, and other international organizations in Geneva. A macro-economist and public policy analyst, his research interests include: trade and investment; LDCs in the global trading system; trade facilitation; the political economy of international trade; and macroeconomics and development policies.

The Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies is an interdisciplinary research centre at the University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven) in Belgium, hosting more than 60 researchers in the humanities and social sciences. Its goal is to promote, support and carry out high-quality international, innovative and interdisciplinary research on global governance. The Centre also carries out independent applied research and offers policy advice and solutions to policymakers on multilateral governance and global public policy issues. Its areas of research include WTO law; foreign direct investment and human development; climate change, food (safety), and sustainable forestry governance, corporate social responsibility and private standards.

The Centre's Director, Jan Wouters, holder of a PhD in Law, and Chair ad Personam of European Union and Global Governance at K.U.Leuven, will serve as Vi member coordinator. His research interests include public international law, law of international organizations, global governance and the European Union.

Wouters is joined two other colleagues: Research Manager, Axel Marx, holder of a PhD in Social Sciences whose research interests include private standards, network governance, and certification; and Nicolas Hachez, Project Manager and Research Fellow, holder of an LL.M. in International Legal Studies, and interested in international investment law, transnational private regulation (focus on food governance and CSR), international legal theory and EU law.