The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the world’s first Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) in 2016.
The biennial forum will bring together representatives from global governments, industries, civil society, students and academia to shape the future of manufacturing.
Hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council for the Future of Manufacturing, the two-day Summit, in the second half of 2016, will focus on innovation, infrastructure, capital, markets, value chains, policy, society, environment and skills.
The Summit will debut in Abu Dhabi next year and will return to the UAE capital in 2018 with the emirate hosting every second edition thereafter.
The inaugural Summit is expected to attract more than 1,000 government and industry attendees, plus representatives of civil society and more than 300 UAE and Gulf industrial stakeholders, students and academia representatives.
The high-level, first-of-its-kind initiative will be chaired by UNIDO’s Director General Li Yong and the UAE Minister of Economy, His Excellency Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori.
“This will be a global gathering of minds comprising public and private sector leaders and key representatives of civil society,” said HE Sultan Al Mansoori. “They will shape a vision for the future of manufacturing. Historically and until today, manufacturing is an engine for economic growth, driving skills development, innovation and technology across all sectors.
“The UAE believes that industrial innovation is vital to our goal of building a sustainable, knowledge-based economy and this summit gives us the opportunity to address, and showcase, the country’s knowledge-based industrial sector to the world.
“Never before has manufacturing been the focus of such a meeting of minds that will enable all participants to share best practices and experiences from all over the world, facilitate knowledge transfer from leading international experts, along with the exclusive opportunity to strengthen business networks that could, eventually, stimulate foreign direct investment and economic activity in countries represented.”
Minister Al Mansoori said the hosting of the Summit in Abu Dhabi is testament to the UAE’s growing role in developing a global, knowledge-based economy that values human capital development and innovation.
“These attributes, set by the UAE’s Vision 2021, will position our country to become a leading manufacturing hub, investing in global value chains and enabling a sustainable future for many generations to come,” he said.
The UAE’s Vision 2021 National Agenda focuses on creating national policies that achieve sustainable growth. Manufacturing and the knowledge-based and innovative industrial sector currently account for around 11% of total UAE GDP, with the aim of growing this to 20% in 2020, and 25% in 2025.
The Minister added that in deciding to partner the UAE in co-organising the Summit and shaping the future of manufacturing, UNIDO had “come to the right place, at the right time.”
UNIDO focuses on creating shared prosperity for all through promoting manufacturing activities while safeguarding the environment.
The organisation is recognised as a specialised, efficient provider of key policy advisory and technical cooperation services, meeting the interlinked challenges of reducing poverty through productive activities, integrating developing countries in global trade through capacity-building, fostering environmental sustainability in industry, and improving access to clean energy.
Li Yong said the Summit will be a catalyst for meeting these goals in line with manufacturing’s proven historic record as a crucially important source of national and international development which is still relevant today.
“Recent examples of the role played by industrial development and manufacturing, including China, the Republic of Korea, and the many other Asian ‘tigers’ and ‘dragons’, speak for themselves. These success stories represent well-recognised models to foster structural change and industrial development while boosting economic growth and poverty reduction.
“Manufacturing industries and their related services sectors can absorb large numbers of workers, provide them with stable jobs and increase the prosperity of their families and communities.
“How much impact industry has on general economic development and on environmental sustainability is ultimately defined by the pattern of industrialisation that a country chooses to follow. A long-term strategy can put in place a framework of stable, economic, legal and political conditions. It can also create incentives to invest in the necessary education and infrastructure, to produce quality, agribusiness solutions, innovation and entrepreneurial skills.”
The Director General said the challenge of promoting industrialisation which is beneficial for all, cannot be defined only in terms of higher levels of economic growth or value-added manufacturing. “It will require a new vision of manufacturing that encompasses skills, employment and innovation and envisages the creation of a robust manufacturing eco-system that supports and benefits all stakeholders in society. No one can be left behind in benefiting from industrial growth and prosperity is shared among women and men in all countries.”
Li Yong added that as a response to these challenges, UNIDO is promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development globally to harness the full potential of industry’s contribution to achieving sustainable development and lasting prosperity.
“It matters for companies because it is clear that governments are not going to be able to do this on their own,” he said. “Companies can play a role in scaling new technologies and the market will accelerate this sort of change. But at the same time there is a moral imperative for companies to join this global initiative towards a better future.”
He added that all sections of the public and private sectors and civil society need to strengthen their efforts to build “a resilient infrastructure and to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation while fostering innovation. We, as UNIDO, believe that it should become an integral part of the new Sustainable Development Goals. We need to make sure that industry supports economic development and human well-being.”
He added: “We need to think how to develop the manufacturing capabilities of countries, including their SMEs, and how to promote global value chains across key manufacturing sectors.”
Li Yong said that manufacturing is no longer portrayed as a factory. “Nowadays, manufacturing is overstepping the limits of factories, creating a huge portion of its value added in all those services related to manufactured products. In addition, manufacturing firms are closer to being high-tech labs. Technology is changing at an unprecedented pace and technology transfer is more critical than ever.”
UNIDO, he said, would use the Summit as a global forum to address and identify solutions to the fundamental challenges of the manufacturing sector and help create “a new global declaration on the future of manufacturing.”
Minister Al Mansoori says GMIS will bring numerous benefits to the UAE. “It will facilitate knowledge transfer from leading international experts, bring potential partners to the UAE to encourage investment and increase inflow of foreign direct investment, and help develop local SMEs by exposing them to international best practices and capital sources.”
“It will clearly position the country as a future manufacturing hub. At the same time, it will enable us to yet again demonstrate our ability to host major world-class initiatives and play an enabling partnership support role.”
By identifying and encouraging the adoption of international best practice in sustainable industrial development, the Summit is expected to spur greater investment in manufacturing, drive innovation and promote skills development worldwide.
It will also promote global competition amongst national and international organisations through the adoption of inclusive and sustainable industrial strategies, contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, enable international exchange of knowledge and technology; foster manufacturing capabilities development and promote global value chains across key manufacturing sectors.
UNIDO’s Director General and the UAE Minister of Economy will meet at least twice a year to set the Summit’s direction.