UN Press Relations

“The world’s poorest countries must forge closer links with fast-growing developing economies such as China and Brazil as the after-effects of the credit crunch continue to ravage the US and Europe, according to a report from the United Nations.”


Here are some of the press releases drafted and edited by Ms. Plentz, as well as select news clippings that resulted from media relations’ campaigns executed for the United Nations and its agencies, with the news media in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the US.

Ms. Plentz news media outreach resulted in features on The Guardian, BBC, FT, Bloomberg News, New York Times, FT Direct Investment,  The Economist, and other major market news outlets in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

The Guardian

The world’s poorest countries must forge closer links with fast-growing developing economies such as China and Brazil as the after-effects of the credit crunch continue to ravage the US and Europe, according to a report from the United Nations.

In its annual health check of the 49 so-called Least Developed Countries, the UN’s Geneva-based trade and development arm, Unctad, says that the Chinese growth model of exporting cut-price consumer goods to the US and Europe will not work for a new generation of developing countries.

“Current unfavourable external conditions will not only affect the growth prospects of LDCs but also their export dynamism, putting into question their current development strategy, which is based on export-led growth,” the report says.

Instead, Unctad urges them to focus on improving their infrastructure and building up their industrial capacity – something aid donors often overlook.

“There’s a changing global landscape in which southern countries are becoming more important economically for these countries,” said Unctad’s Charles Gore, who oversees the report. “What we have been arguing for some time now is that these countries need to build up the productive base of their economies.”

Without a more effective growth strategy, Gore warned that the countries are likely to remain on the fringes of the world economy. “They are terribly marginalised,” he said.

The LDCs, most of which are in Africa, accounted for 12% of the world’s population by 2009, but just 0.9% of global economic output – considerably lower than it was during the 1970s. In 2007, the latest year for which consistent figures are available, 78% of their populations lived on less than $2 a day.

Gore pointed out that recent estimates by the International Labour Organisation show that there are more than 10 million new entrants to the labour market in the LDCs – more than during the boom years of the 1990s: “What’s going to happen if these people can’t find employment opportunities?”

Unctad calls for regional lenders, such as the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank, to play a greater role in building up the economic capacity of the poorest countries. Many developing countries hold vast sovereign wealth funds, which often manage the income from resources such as oil.

Of the $4.3trn in sovereign wealth funds worldwide, $3.5trn is held by developing countries. UN argues that if just 1% of this was channelled to regional development banks, it could increase their lending capacity by up to $84bn, and ought to be a win-win for the funds themselves, which often sink much of their cash into US Treasury bonds or other low-yielding investments.

Unctad also urges the LDCs to study successful anti-poverty measures in leading developing countries, such as the Bolsa Familia system of payments to the poorest families in Brazil, which helped to boost incomes and educational standards. “There’s huge potential for policy-sharing,” said Gore.

The report warns that in the medium term, the strong growth rates chalked up by the LDCs during the boom years of the past decade are unlikely to be repeated.



Climate Change Impact: A Challenge for Global Ports

By Maya Plentz

United Nations, 21 September 2011 – Ports are likely to be impacted directly and indirectly by climate change, with rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

Over 80% of world trade volume is carried by sea. The international shipping sector and ports provide crucial links in the global supply-chain and are essential for all countries, including those that are landlocked, to access global markets.

Given ports’ strategic role as part of the international trading system, it is of vital importance that experts take a closer look at the impact of climate change on sea transport systems and ports in different parts of the world, with broader implications for international trade and for the development prospects of the most vulnerable nations, in particular Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS).

A good understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities in the construction, management, and maintenance of ports is key to developing effective measures that will enhance the resilience of systems, and minimize the adverse effects of climate change.

The meeting will bring together policy makers, planning authorities, port industry representatives and operators, as well as engineers, who will share insights and discuss pertinent issues to identify vulnerabilities and risks, adaptation requirements, information sources, and partners for effective collaboration.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK)
  • Mr. Susumu Naruse, Secretary-General,  (IAPH)
  • Mr Simon Bennett, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)
  • Mr. Philippe Crist, (OECD) – International Transport Forum (ITF)
  • Mr. Vladimir Stenek, International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank
  • Mr. Mike Savonis, ICF, United States Department of Transport
  • Prof. Miguel Esteban, Waseda University, Tokyo
  • Prof. Robert Nicholls, University of Southampton
  • Mr. Austin Becker, Stanford University
  • Prof. von Lieberman, Hamburg Port Authority
  • Mr. Andrew Mather, Ethekwini Municipality, South Africa
  • Mrs. Sin Lan Ng Yun Wing, Director, Ministry of Environment, Mauritius
  • Dr. Leonard Nurse, University of the West Indies, Barbados
  • Dr. Adolf NG, The Hong Kong (China) Polytechnic University
  • Dr. Laurent Cretegny, Economics of Climate Change Study, World Bank



By Maya Plentz

United Nations, 13 October 2011 The deepening of the financial and economic crisis has not yet had an impact on foreign investment policies, although there are signs that countries are becoming more and more concerned about the effect of inward and outward investment flows on their economies, data from UNCTAD Sixth Investment Policy Monitor shows.

Recent fears about possible macroeconomic shocks and the possibility of a prolonged recession could increase the risk of new protectionist measures against foreign investors.

However, from April to September 2011, more than 30 economies introduced new investment policies, and the large majority of these measures, nearly 75%, favoured investment liberalization.  Case in point: Brazil approved a law lifting the 49 per cent cap on foreign ownership of cable operators.

India raised the foreign ownership cap in the FM radio sector to 26 per cent from the previous 20 per cent and took some liberalization measures concerning outward FDI, while Sierra Leone opened West Africa’s first tax-free economic zone.

TheUnited States launched a federal initiative to attract foreign investment, while at the same time encouraging United States investors abroad to repatriate investments.

Thirty-five countries concluded 24 new international investment agreements, including 17 double taxation treaties, 5 bilateral investment treaties and 2 “other international investment agreements”.




By Maya Plentz

United Nations, 23rdSeptember 2011— A new UN study draws lessons from the way Chile and Canada have succeeded in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in mining. It analyses their policies and reveals the challenges of balancing the interests of foreign investors and those of the host country.

The report focuses on how to improve supply side factors affecting mining. It addresses also issues around policy stability, how to tax the industry, how to encourage efficiency and local enterprise development and how to minimise the environmental and social impact of mining.

Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” model of mining industry development, UNCTAD concludes that the lessons from these two countries can serve as useful guidelines and present policy options for other countries.

The Investment Advisory Series B focuses on case studies of best practices in policy and strategic matters related to foreign investment and development.  It is intended to help policy makers and complements the A series, which deals with issues related to investment promotion and facilitation and the work of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) and similar institutions.



Trade and Sustainable Development  

By Maya Plentz

United Nations, 4 November 2011 –  High-level experts on environment issues will meet in Geneva next week to discuss trade and sustainable development implications for a Green Economy.  While most attention has been focused on the economic and social aspects of the green economy, the role that trade can play in the transition to a green economy also deserves the spotlight, according to UNCTAD’s economists.

Experts will focus on the following themes:

  1. Moving beyond the green economy discourse.
  2. Transition to a green economy.
  3. Technology and finance.
  4. Trade issues, including protectionism, in the green economy.
  5. Formulating a message for Rio + 20.

The meeting will bring together governments, international organizations, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations to discuss the conditions for a successful, politically feasible and economically viable transition to the green economy, and to elaborate recommendations to contribute to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to be convened in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

In addition, in the lead up to the UNCTAD XIII Conference to be convened in Doha in April 2012, the meeting will also consider UNCTAD’s wider contribution in supporting a development-led transition to a green economy.



Original: English

By Maya Plentz

United Nations,  25 October 2011 – The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) through its BioTrade Initiative and the Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid (IED), will host an exhibit and a fashion show at the Ethical Fashion Night of Geneva, that will take place on Friday, 28 October, from 18:30 to 22:00, at the Théâtre Pitoëff.

UNCTAD’s BioTrade Initiative and IED Madrid are working together to enhance trade opportunities of developing countries by highlighting the value of biodiversity and promoting the adoption of a sustainable production approach for the global fashion industry. This work also aims at supporting the training of new stylists and designers.

For the Ethical Fashion Night of Geneva, three projects by IED students will focus on innovative uses of materials, textiles and a variety of dyes and pigments originating from developing countries with rich biodiversity. The students will present new pieces designed using recycled fabrics and clothes from the Spanish multinational company ZARA.

UNCTAD and IED will present the results of these and other research projects in forthcoming events in 2011 and 2012 that will celebrate and mark the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. Entry to the exhibit and fashion show is free of charge and open to the public. 

Since its launch by UNCTAD in 1996, the BioTrade Initiative has been promoting sustainable trade of biological resources to further sustainable development. The Initiative comprises a variety of regional and developing country programmes. Beginning in 2008, the BioTrade Initiative launched the second phase of the BioTrade Facilitation Programme (BTFP), which focuses on creating an enabling policy environment that promotes trade as an incentive measure for the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. 


By Maya Plentz

United Nations – Global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows continued a moderate recovery in the first half of 2011. Amidst uncertainties in the global economy, there are indications of FDI growth decelerating in the second half of the year.

While UNCTAD’s seventh Global Investment Trend Monitor remains cautiously optimistic for the full year, projecting FDI flows close to the pre-crisis average, downside risks have intensified.  Developing and transition economies continued to account for more than half of global FDI inflows in the first half of 2011.

Almost all developing regions saw their FDI rising, driven by increasing flows to large emerging markets (China, India, Brazil, South Africa and the Russian Federation). In contrast, developed economies, as a group, experienced a slight decline in their inflows, with the United States of America, France and Germany – posting declines in the first half of 2011.