New York

03 October 2021

Secretary-General’s press encounter after first day's activities in Barbados

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press.

First of all, let me express my enormous gratitude for the wonderful hospitality provided by the Prime Minister, the Government and the people of Barbados. These two days have been wonderful days, and I am extremely grateful for the generous hospitality that I received.

This visit is a visit of solidarity. Solidarity with Barbados and its people, solidarity with the Caribbean, and solidarity to all Small Island Developing States. And that solidarity is entirely justified, because these countries - and Barbados, in the first line - are the main victims of the inequality that prevails in the world in the moment when solidarity will be more necessary than ever.

We have seen that inequality in the way vaccines have been distributed, and I want to express my solidarity with the Government of Barbados that has managed to vaccinate a meaningful part of the population, even if the hoarding of vaccines has made it very difficult for countries like Barbados to have access to vaccines.

But inequality also in relation to climate change. There is one thing in which I do not agree with your Prime Minister. The most important intervention in the General Assembly was not mine, it was hers. She made a fantastic intervention, in which not only she referred the substance of the problems that we are facing - with climate change that is becoming an existential threat for people of the planet - but she also made it with a passion, and with a strength that really made everybody in the room be moved, and I think that it made the consciences of many that are not doing enough, understand that they need to change.

And indeed, the truth is that Small Island Developing States are the first victims of the impacts of climate change, and the impacts are already there, and I had the opportunity to see some very important work adaptation. And Small Island Developing States, have had the courage to present plans of decarbonization of their economies, namely Barbados, deciding to end fossil fuels in 2030. And the truth is that until now, they have not received the support from the international community they are entitled to receive.

First of all, because developed countries have not yet implemented the promise they made in Paris, of US$100 billion to support developing countries. And specially because the support that is provided is in only a small percentage support to adaptation and resilience. Only 25% until now, and you have been claiming for the needs for half of the climate finance in support of developing countries to be for adaptation, resilience - to protect the coastlines, to protect I think that your idea of a programme from the 'Roofs to Reefs', I mean, to protect communities, to build resilience and capacity to resist to the impacts of climate change. A lot of solidarity is necessary, a lot of investment is necessary, and unfortunately until now, we have not seen it. So, inequality in relation to the vaccines, inequality in relation to climate change. But inequality also from the point of view of the financial situation in the world. Developed countries were able to mobilize about 28 per cent of their gross domestic product in support of their economies; middle income countries about six per cent and the least developed countries about two per cent.

And the truth is that many countries are facing a dramatic situation, because being middle income countries, they have no access to a number of instruments that would be necessary, namely, in relation to debt relief. It is clear that there must be a systematic approach to debt relief, including middle income countries, in order not to force governments to choose between servicing the debt, or servicing the people.

And I want to express my total solidarity to Barbados in relation to the position that has been expressed by the Government of Barbados about the questions of liquidity, about the questions of debt and about the questions of the international solidarity investments in relation to the countries that are in the front line of all these different challenges that I mentioned.

On the other hand, I'd like to say that I was very, very inspired by the group of young people that I've seen. I believe Barbados has all the conditions to become a true hub of knowledge - taking profit from what technology today brings, in order to provide for its people a future of development and prosperity.

The commitment of the Government to support the youth and the commitment of the youth to really take profit of all the opportunities that are now created by new technologies - I was really very impressed with them. I think it allows us to believe that Barbados can become in the future, an important hub of knowledge and an important hub of intellectual capacity that are able to not only guarantee the prosperity of its people, but to support all Caribbean States.

So, this visit has been an extremely pleasant visit, because I feel myself among friends. But a visit that is very important for its symbolism. I'm here to express to Barbados, to the Caribbean, and to all Small Island Developing States, my deep solidarity in a moment in which the world is not fair with them, in a moment in which inequality still prevails, in a moment in which solidarity from namely - the most powerful in the world - is lacking.