You are here


UN forum in Bahrain: Innovation as the key to solving global problems

The Forum* is held under the supervision of the General Secretariat of the Investment and Technology Promotion Office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Through a strong coalition of stakeholders driving the agenda, the International Forum paves the way for dialogue and action-oriented initiatives aimed at reshaping the global economic landscape while advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.


Critical role
In an interview with UN News, Ms. Fatou Haidara, Deputy Director-General of UNIDO and Director-General of the Department of Global Partnerships and External Relations, emphasized the pivotal role of the private sector in economic development, especially in the developing world.

She stressed that “the private sector has a critical role when it comes to economic development and small, micro, and medium enterprises, especially in the developing world. This demonstrates the importance of the Forum not only for the private sector, but also for all actors, policy makers, academia, investment and financial institutions to come together and consider how "We can accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals."

Haidara stressed the need for collective action, stressing that "the challenges we face today cannot be addressed by one entity or group. We need a collective effort."

By focusing on strengthening partnerships, the Global Entrepreneurship and Investment Forum aims to stimulate international cooperation and unite Arab and African stakeholders to promote investment and entrepreneurship development.



Six transitional paths for investment

During the opening session of the forum, Rula Dashti, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), explained the forum’s commitment to translating sustainable development goals into tangible results.

“Our forum’s theme, Six Transitional Investment Pathways to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, challenges us to rethink and reshape our approaches across policy sectors, such as energy and digital connectivity,” she said.

Dashti urged stakeholders to benefit from digital transformation and strengthen education systems to combat climate change and create inclusive job opportunities, stressing the urgent need for strategic partnerships to confront pressing global challenges.

"Architects of the next revolution"
Dashti highlighted the pivotal role of young leaders and entrepreneurs in advancing global development. She explained that they are "the architects of the next revolution in global development. Let us be inspired by the collaborative spirit of this forum and remember that our work does not end here."

She encouraged participants to harness their ideas to bridge the digital divide, create sustainable environments, and formulate pathways out of poverty.



The role of academia
The Global Entrepreneurship and Investment Forum emphasizes the importance of partnerships across sectors, including academia.

Dr. Lydia Taki, Professor at Akinten Abia-Minka University (Ghana), emphasized the importance of the forum’s timing in addressing the employment challenges faced by graduates, and highlighted the university’s investment in entrepreneurship and skills training.

She stressed the importance of providing students with entrepreneurship skills, access to smart financing, and networking opportunities, also emphasizing the role of academic institutions in promoting innovation and economic growth.

The Global Forum also calls on academic institutions to step up investment in research and development, as such a strategic move could generate new technologies capable of tackling some of the world's most difficult challenges.



Tanzanian experience
Sokwene University of Agriculture in Tanzania is doing this because it has found ways to empower its students even before they graduate. It established a cooperative association for graduate entrepreneurs, which serves as an incubator for them.

In an interview with UN News on the sidelines of the forum, Refukatos Kimariu, Executive Director of the cooperative, said, “We want to commercialize agriculture; we have the students. Now we are providing them with entrepreneurship skills in addition to technology.”

Currently, the Sokoin University Graduate Entrepreneurship Cooperative has established a solar-powered irrigation system. This technology allows the association's members to farm sustainably, and this has enabled them to secure a market for sweet lemons in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“We want to make agriculture the first choice and not the last choice for university graduates,” said Kimario, who attended the forum in his capacity as a businessman.

Benefit from African resources
Promoting entrepreneurship by providing access to smart finance and networking opportunities is another approach cited by UNIDO as a way to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

Olive Olive Kigongo, president of the Uganda Chamber of Commerce, says what African countries are doing now is sending their resources abroad.

She added during a panel discussion on building sustainable partnerships and creating a brighter future for Arab and African entrepreneurs, “We give our resources to developed countries, and we export jobs and resources. Many Ugandans work abroad because they cannot be employed in Uganda.”

She stressed, "We must add value to our resources. Without that, small and medium enterprises will never grow. Let us join hands, because two minds are better than one. You have the money and we have the resources."



Bahrain's role
Khaled Al-Maqoud, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bahrain, said, “The timing of holding the forum this year coincides with the Arab League summit, which will be attended by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.”


He explained that "the coincidence of the two events reflects the increasing role played by Bahrain in the multilateral platform and its positioning as an active player," adding that "holding the Global Entrepreneurship and Investment Forum this year coincides with the formulation of the United Nations framework for cooperation in the field of sustainable development for the period from 2025 to 2029." “What we did this year was to hold a series of consultations and negotiations with the government and national stakeholders at different levels so that we could formulate the new cooperation framework.”

Al-Muqod said that this year is the first time that civil society has been included as part of national stakeholders, in addition to the private sector and other development partners in Bahrain.

He added, "National ownership was reflected in the discussions as the Government of Bahrain embraced consultations and negotiations, and we reached the basic pillars of the new cooperation framework, which will be the cooperation framework for Bahrain."

Message to women entrepreneurs
Reem Siam, President of the Economic Businesswomen Council of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce and a member of the Board of Directors of the World Federation of Chambers, is among the beneficiaries of UNIDO’s training programmes.

Speaking to UN News, Siam said, “I am one of the female entrepreneurs who have benefited from UNIDO programs. I received UNIDO training in 2015 here in Bahrain, through the organization’s Investment and Technology Promotion Office. I really benefited from this training. It helped me a lot in My work opened doors to financial institutions and banks. My message to female entrepreneurs is to believe in yourself.”

Orange economy
The second day of the forum focuses - among other things - on how to harness agricultural technology to achieve food security, and the role of the orange economy, also known as the creative economy, to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Felipe Buitrago, former Minister of Culture of Colombia, also known as the founding father of the Orange Economy, will be among the keynote speakers on the second day's events.

According to the United Nations, the creative economy is an evolving concept that relies on the contribution and potential of creative assets to achieve economic growth and development.

The orange economy includes economic, cultural and social aspects that interact with technology, intellectual property and tourism objectives. It is a group of economic activities based on knowledge and of a more local nature, and has a development dimension and comprehensive links at the macro and micro levels of the overall economy.

*The Global Entrepreneurship and Investment Forum received the support of a group of influential partners, including the League of Arab States, the Union of Arab Chambers, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, and the Schengen Union for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship, in addition to many local, regional and international entities.