04 October 2021

Opening remarks at UNCTAD15 joint press conference with Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados and Rebeca Grynspan of UNCTAD

António Guterres

Dear members of the press, thank you very much for your presence.   
I want to first of all thank Prime Minister Mottley and all Barbadians for your warm “Bajan” welcome — and for so graciously hosting this year’s UNCTAD.  
This country’s journey has been a remarkable one.  
Overcoming colonialism and achieving independence. 
Forging a modern and increasingly diverse economy.  

From tourism and agriculture.  
To becoming a hub of business in the Caribbean. 
To building a digital economy — enhancing efficiency while creating new jobs.  
To its ambitious and comprehensive economic reform efforts.  
Barbados is also an influential regional leader in the Caribbean.   
A valued member of the United Nations for the last 55 years.  
A strong supporter of the Sustainable Development Goals — including through its participation in the National Voluntary Review process.  
A longtime advocate for Small Island Developing States — hosting the first-ever global conference on the sustainable development of these countries in 1994.  
An environmental and climate leader through its aspiration to become a green, resilient and fossil-fuel free economy by 2030.  
And a powerful global voice — as Prime Minister Mottley so clearly demonstrated in her address at the UN General Assembly two weeks ago.  
Like so many small island developing states, Barbados is also a country where the global challenges we face are starkly revealed.  
COVID-19. Climate change and natural disasters — like July’s Hurricane Elsa. Job losses and economic hardship. Inadequate infrastructure and unfair trade rules. And inequalities and poverty.  
So this is a fitting place to discuss the urgent steps we need to take to ensure a strong, sustainable economic recovery for all.  And that is a clear objective of UNCTAD. 
Through my address to the Conference, and in my meetings and discussions during this visit, I am highlighting the urgent work ahead. 
We need to end the pandemic, by uniting the world behind a bold global vaccination plan and reaching 70 per cent of people in every country by mid-2022.  
We need to end debt distress, by following the four-point debt crisis action plan I outlined in my speech today.  
To expand liquidity — including by a substantial re-allocation of Special Drawing Rights to vulnerable countries that need them.  
To suspend debt payments into next year, for all countries that need it — including middle-income countries.  
To ensure effective debt relief and develop a comprehensive strategy to reform the international debt architecture, which traps too many countries in deadly cycles of debt waves.  
And to work with the private sector and multilateral development banks to develop innovative financing tools, and help lower risk and draw capital to  
bankable, job-creating projects in communities that need them.  
We also need to support all the systems that have been starved of investment by the pandemic — health and education, social protections and decent jobs.  
We need to level the playing field for trading nations like Barbados. This includes stronger rules for fair and open trade, and helping developing countries modernize and digitize their trade infrastructure so they can compete.   
And finally — we need to tackle climate change, with bold commitments at the upcoming COP26.  
All countries should follow through on their commitment to help developing countries adapt to the green economy — with at least $100 billion in climate finance annually in support of developing countries’ programs of mitigation and adaptation.   
And I repeat my call to donors and multilateral development banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of their climate support towards adaptation and resilience, and make it easier for countries affected by natural disasters to access the funding they need.  
Throughout, I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Mottley on these and other issues.  
Barbados is an important and influential voice at the United Nations, and we will work with all Barbadians to shape a better, more sustainable future for all.  
And we believe UNCTAD can be a fundamental instrument to achieve that objective.  
Thank you and of course, I will also be at your disposal for any questions.