The Section focuses on developing skills, knowledge and capacities through innovative development approaches based on a recognised pedagogical method and state-of-the-art technological solutions.


Strengthening knowledge and skills through innovative approaches for inclusive sustainable economic development


  • Build sustainable networks of knowledge to enhance national ownership, South-South and triangular cooperation
  • Encourage development-oriented trade policy to reduce poverty and to promote transparency and good practices
  • Promote digital solutions and innovative thinking to enhance capacities of international trade players


Bridgetown Covenant 2021

Bridgetown Covenant 2021

The HRDS-TrainForTrade Section aims at achieving the objectives at the core of the Bridgetown Covenant and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To address these targets, the section focuses on developing skills, knowledge, and capacities through innovative development approaches for inclusive sustainable economic development. 

TrainForTrade overall activities mentioned in the covenant:  

  • Focus on mitigating the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different countries by providing a platform for exchange of information, experiences, lessons learned and success stories among different countries, as well as conducting research to find out policy options for successful recovery from the economic crisis; (Part IV; Section D, Par. 127, Subparagraph (h)). 
  • Continue to conduct research, analysis and propose policy recommendations on bilateral trade agreements between developing countries and their trading partners, linking the results of these activities with implementation mechanisms which would reduce import and export costs and facilitate supply chains to support the manufacturing and export sectors; (Part IV, Section D, Par.127, Subparagraph (p)).


  • Continue to provide statistics, analytical work, and technical assistance to developing countries, to promote structural transformation; (Part IV, Section D, Par.127, Subparagraph (q)).
  • Strengthen the work on assisting developing countries to systematically assess their state-of-play and readiness to engage and integrate into the digital economy, thus contributing to the closing of the digital divide; in doing, so it is important to support the strengthening of the collection and processing of available data in order to produce statistics and policy analysis in relation to the opportunities and challenges of digital economy; (Part IV, Section D, Par. 127, Subparagraph (gg))

Trade flows and development: 

  • Contribute to the coordinated international dialogue on COVID-19 response and recovery measures to counter the negative impact of the pandemic on the global economy and trade. (Part IV, Section D, Par. 125)
  • Continue to provide assistance to developing countries to design and implement policies and actions aimed at improving the efficiency of trade transactions as well as the management of transport operations; (Part IV, Section D, Par.127, Subparagraph (c)) 

Transportation and maritime aspect:  

  • The pandemic caused significant disruptions in international maritime and air transport networks, with a particular impact on regional trade, port operations and logistics […]. These developments highlight the need for resilient air and maritime transportation systems, including regional transportation systems, which are essential for deepening regional integration processes and critical to accelerating developing countries’ integration into the global economy. (Part III,  Section A, Par. 50)

Digital and e-commerce: 

  • Bridging the digital divide between and within countries is of critical importance to developing countries, particularly vulnerable groups and those furthest behind. Special attention should be given to the building of capacities and quality infrastructure, and accessibility and affordability of the digital economy. It is also important to build the digital literacy of the disadvantaged groups and populations. A substantial mobilization of resources, supported by a conducive investment climate and business environment, is necessary to support enterprises and institutions to effectively leverage the opportunities created by the digital economy and e-commerce to build the required digital infrastructure and know-how; (Part III, Section A, Par. 60)
  • The utilization and sharing of best practices in digital technologies can contribute to reducing gaps and inequalities in developing countries. Yet a deep digital divide remains. In the absence of coordinated action by all relevant actors, the digital divide is likely to increase; (Part I, Par. 22)


  • The global economy has faced a series of persistent and emerging challenges to ensuring stable economic growth as well as to achieving inclusive and sustainable development. Building resilience to these challenges is critical to achieving inclusive sustainable development. (Part III, Section A, Par.40 )
  • A concerted effort is needed to prepare this new generation to be true global citizens and to transform to a more sustainable and resilient economy. (Part III, Section B, Par.77)

SIDS and left behind regions:  

  • UNCTAD should support the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, African countries, other structurally weak, vulnerable and small economies and countries in conflict and post-conflict situations, while also taking account of the challenges of middle-income countries and countries with economies in transition. (Part IV, Section D, Par.124)

South-South cooperation:  

  • Continue its work on issues related to South–South cooperation, triangular cooperation and regional cooperation, including by promoting dialogue between economic integration structures with the view to enhancing mutual trade and exchanging best practices and experiences, towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. (Part IV, Section D, Par.127 , Subparagraph (w))

Sustainable development and Climate Change: 

  • This pandemic presents an opportunity and an urgent need to envision and shape a new path where trade, investment, technology and finance can be harnessed to achieve sustainable progress and build a more resilient, inclusive, environmentally sound and sustainable world. (Introduction, Par.13)
  • Trade and investment can be effective mechanisms to facilitate the production and flow of environmentally friendly goods and services. (Part III, Section B, Par.69)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is a firm reminder of the value of an integrated approach that fosters cooperation between environmental conservation and the human health, animal health and plant health sectors. Similarly, natural disasters, which are increasing in frequency due to climate change, as well as man-made disasters such as maritime and industrial accidents, frequently lead to biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and an additional strain on limited trade and development logistics, resources and infrastructure. (Introduction, Par.11)


  • It is essential to recognize the critical role that women are playing in COVID-19 response efforts, as well as the disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic, notably the socioeconomic impact, on women and girls. (Introduction, Par.8)
  • Support member States in the design and implementation of policies and the establishment of institutions, frameworks and/or mechanisms that support women’s economic empowerment, economic security and rights, and enhance their economic and digital skills and opportunities. (Part IV, Section D, Par.127 , Subparagraph (c)). 



Nairobi Maafikiano Mandate 2016

  • Paragraph 55(z): Continue capacity-building activities, including Train for Trade, as reflected in paragraph 56 (r) of the Doha Mandate;
  • Paragraph 55(i): Continue its work in transport, including maritime transport, ports…
  • Paragraph 55(u):  capacity-building in the area of e-commerce…
  • Paragraph 38(aa): capacity-building … Statistics …

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Doha Mandate and Doha Manar 2012

  • Paragraph 17: Reaffirms and builds upon the Accra Accord, which remain valid and relevant
  • Paragraph 18(a): Continue to play its role in the evolution of a stronger global concensus on issues within its mandate…
  • Paragraph 56 (r): Continue capacity-building activities including TrainForTrade and in the framework of paragraph 166 of the Bangkok Plan of Action

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Accra Accord 2008

  • Paragraph 162: UNCTAD should enhance its assistance in cross-divisional capacity-building programmes, including training for policymakers on the integrated treatment of the trade, investment, finance, technology and development issues, which must ensure wide and inclusive participation of developing countries … and foster training and capacity-building aimed at trade practitioners in order to assist member countries in developing a sustainable local capacity in trade, investment and development issues through TrainForTrade. UNCTAD should also continue to uses these programmes to strengthen the synergies between its research and capacity-building activities.”

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End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, in particular with the targets to enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing.


Promoting beneficiary involvement to ensure sustainability and ownership

  • TrainForTrade aims at strengthening local trade-related capacities of individuals, training institutions and governmental entities. Local trade experts can support the design of local strategies, policies, laws, and regulations related to international trade. The implementation of development-oriented trade policies is encouraged.
  • The TrainForTrade courses are developed following a rigorous methodology, in close collaboration with the government and other stakeholders in order to address the country’s training needs.
  • TrainForTrade trains local experts in their countries to enable them become trainers on trade-related issues after having participating in TFT training programme. This creates local ownership to and sustainability of the capacity development process.
  • Networking amongst beneficiary countries and training institutions is crucial for knowledge-sharing and multiplier effects.
  • The courses are multilingual (currently courses are offered in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Lao and Khmer).

Typical participants in TrainForTrade’s projects include:

  • Government officials and trade specialists responsible for designing and implementing trade and development policies;
  • Private sector, professional associations, local port authorities, regional organisations, civil society, NGOs and decentralized cooperation associations;
  • Local communities in charge of implementing projects in the field;
  • National institutions for training and capacity building.

TrainForTrade’s learning approach combines e-learning with face-to-face training. This approach allows for a flexible and participatory training process:


Distance learning: an approved TrainForTrade technical tutor conducts the seminar using information and communication technologies. A face-to-face wrap-up session brings the distance learning session to a close and validates it;

Face-to-face training: a TrainForTrade approved trainer leads the seminar and exercises in an appropriate learning environment.


Three types of trainings are offered:

  • Seminars aimed at the trade operators and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Training of trainers (who will teach the courses within their institutions);
  • Training of technical tutors (who will manage training activities online).

The TFT Project Cycle includes 4 phases:


1.         Identifying and assessing needs:

  • The beneficiary country makes an official request.
  • In close cooperation with the relevant actors, the needs for capacity development in international trade are analyzed, an inventory of ongoing initiatives is drawn up, a plan of action is prepared and funds are sought in parallel.


2.         Developing the project:

  • A national or regional steering committee is set up comprising various players in trade-related capacity development. The committee guides the project, coordinates the activities and defines the annual priorities.
  • The course material is developed, in cooperation with UNCTAD experts, on topics of priority for the beneficiary country.
  • The material is adapted to the local needs identified and translated into local languages, if necessary.
  • During the seminars, potential trainers (who conduct the face-to-face workshops) and potential technical tutors (who manage the distance courses) are identified.
  • Participants’ evaluation contributes towards making adjustments to the course material and provides food for thought for the beneficiary institutions.


3.         Spreading the knowledge:

  • Knowledge dissemination and sharing take place through the seminars given by local trainers and through formal and informal networking among participants and institutions.
  • The steering committee meets regularly, thus promoting mechanisms for long-term dialogue.


4.         Accompanying the change:

  • Advisory and support services are provided by UNCTAD experts for policy-making, in line with national and regional requests.