Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley opened the first of five forums ahead of UNCTAD15, the UN trade body’s 15th quadriennial conference, hosted virtually by Barbados. (UNCTAD 15)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated the view that a thriving and productive agricultural sector is important to national food security, and is vital to the economic and social development of Barbados.

Ms. Mottley shared her view as she recently addressed the Global Commodities Forum, which is the inaugural event for the 15th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 15).

Issues of Food Security, Water, and the transition to Sustainable Renewable Energy were dealt with at the forum, under the theme: Strengthening Resilience in Commodity Dependent Countries.

In explaining how Barbados is doing its part, the Prime Minister continued: “Energy security is also a crucial element of our strategy. For over 40 years, we have exploited the boundless energy from the sun for solar hot water heaters installed on our roofs across many homes and across many businesses. We have now set a goal for 100 per cent of our electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2030.

“We have already made significant strides towards this goal and at the same time we have begun the journey to transform our transport sector by facilitating the growth in electric vehicles. These initiatives will move us away from the dependence on fossil fuel and will help us to combat the climate crisis.”

Ms. Mottley said small states were particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of international trade, susceptible to sudden increases in commodity prices, dependent on reliable daily arrival of ships and aircraft to meet the needs of citizens, and exposed when there were supply shortages.

“The present COVID situation is no exception, with many developing countries facing shortages of vaccines, while others are holding supplies in excess of their needs,” she pointed out.

She opined that every country must punch above its weight’ to address the urgent challenges and correct the imbalances, so citizens of the world could have a brighter future. “This is not a time for division, but a time for solidarity and for finding common ground,” she insisted.

Ms. Mottley said the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis were pointed reminders of the world’s interconnectivity and interdependence.  

She added that whether a country was a major superpower or a small island developing state, their fates were now intertwined and therefore there was no room for insular thinking.

“It is clear that no nation alone can win the battle against the challenges that face us, including this pandemic or the climate crisis, and that the smallest of nations have a role to play and can make that difference,” stressed.

The Prime Minister suggested that countries must focus on building robust partnerships based on understanding and the need for mutual respect, regardless of size and economic power.

The Global Commodities Forum is a major multi-stakeholder meeting held to discuss and find realistic solutions to persistent problems in the commodity economy.  The online meeting was held from September 13 to 15.

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