National Coordinator UNCTAD 15, Teresa Marshall. (GP)

Barbados will pull out all the stops, using the latest technology, to put on a virtual United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 15) that will bring a world-class feel to thousands of participants.

National Coordinator for UNCTAD 15, Teresa Marshall, gave this assurance today, during a virtual media briefing on some of the topics likely to be tabled, and the format for the discussions during the October 4 to 7 caucus.

She shared that after a year and a half of preparations and two postponements, the local secretariat decided six months ago to switch to a virtual event, with as much aplomb as an in-person gathering.

The National Coordinator proffered the view that while the country could not reap the benefits of a physical presence of over 3,000 delegates, there is considerable scope to generate future returns for Barbados and the Caribbean through the virtual conference platform.

She declared: “If this is used innovatively, it can, in fact, give us far greater global reach than the original physical event. Our new motto is, if you can’t come to Barbados, we will bring Barbados to you, and that is certainly what we aim to do!”

Ms. Marshall outlined how the virtual conference would be executed as agreed to by Government and the secretariat. 

“UNCTAD 15 will be streamed from two main production centres in Bridgetown and Geneva, with the various feeds coordinated through a purpose-built virtual events platform. The conference centre is designed to replicate the look and feel of an authentic location.

“Within that centre, there will be a space considered UN premises, where the formal sessions of UNCTAD will take place virtually. There will be a host country space with a virtual marketplace and exhibition zone, where Barbadian arts and craft will be displayed, and educational, cultural, entertainment, business and tourism promotional content will be presented,” the National Coordinator explained.

Ms. Marshall added that the main conference programme remained unchanged, and will begin on Monday, October 4, with a scaled down opening ceremony attended by a small number of high-level invitees physically present in Barbados and Geneva, as well as an online link-up for delegates from member states to join.

Additionally, the National Coordinator said there will be a national debate for ministers to put forward their country’s position on a number of important matters, and a series of high-level sessions and ministerial round tables on priority themes.

According to Ms. Marshall, among the highlights of the conference will be the negotiated Outcome Document and the Bridgetown Covenant agreed to by the 195 members.

“This will speak to the challenges and priorities of developing countries, now significantly contextualised by the advent of COVID-19 and the impact this has had on trade and on the economic development prospects of developing countries,” she said.

There will also be a political declaration with the host country chair playing an integral role in drafting and guiding through to adoption by attendees.

Apart from the conference, Ms. Marshall said a series of virtual forums will run sequentially, starting with Global Commodities from September 13 to 15.  This will be followed by forums on Youth – September 16 to 18; Civil Society, from September 22 to 24, and Gender and Development -September 26 to 28.  The combined Creative Industries Trade Digitisation Forum will take place from September 29 to October 1.

The briefing was also addressed by Permanent Representative of Barbados to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Chad Blackman; Director of UNCTAD’s Division on Globalisation and Development Strategies, Richard Kozul-Wright; UNCTAD’s Director on Investment and Enterprise, James Zhan, and UNCTAD’s Press Officer, Catherine Huissoud.

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