UNCTAD Secretary-General, Rebeca Grynspan, speaking virtually from Geneva. (E. Brooks/BGIS)

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Rebeca Grynspan, has reiterated the need to close the gaps in countries around the world, which have been made wider with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking during the closing press conference of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 15), Ms. Grynspan said although it has been a historic one, there was still much work to be done.      

The UNCTAD Secretary-General remarked that the conference showed the trajectory the world was likely to take in the future, as enunciated by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, and President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, who spoke of the need to close the gaps and address inequalities worldwide, during the four-day conference.

Pointing out that these issues have long existed, she stated: “We have all said, how important it is to close the gaps that the world is showing in this pandemic. They are not new, but they have deepened with the pandemic, and we know … the inequalities that are rampant in the world, and I say inequalities because it’s not one.  They are many, and they interact and intersect between, and the weak response from the multilateral arena.

“If we weaken multilateralism, we won’t be able to find the collective will and action we need to face the global problems that have to be addressed globally. So, this is an important moment in the history of humanity, and we need to rise to the challenge,” she stressed.

Ms. Grynspan also praised Barbados for being the first small island developing state to host the quadrennial conference, and said she was impressed that the country highlighted the vulnerability and fragility of all SIDS during the discussions.

She contended that the time had come for issues affecting SIDS to be taken more seriously, adding that vulnerable countries were not in the position they were in on account of “bad behaviour”, or entering debt arrangements above their means, but as a result of “things that others have done and because of climate change, natural disasters and investment in resilience that they have to do that have taken resources away from the needs of citizens, from education, health and social protection”.

“So we need to hear the voice of the countries in the world that are having to devote a lot of resources to things that are coming from outside the pandemic… So, it’s not bad behaviour, they don’t have to be punished. They have to be helped. And I think that, that is the different voice that we are hearing in this conference,” the UNCTAD Secretary-General underlined.

Ms Grynspan said the conference allowed delegates to hear addresses from more than 100 member countries of the United Nations and 5,300 delegates in public participation, and 1,500 participants participating in youth, gender and development, culture, creative industries and civil society forums ahead of the conference.

“So, we have to take their words very seriously within our future work, and we had the Secretary-General of the UN who came to Barbados, to put his voice, together with ours, in the importance of trade and development, in the importance of making this right for the future, and to go from inequalities and vulnerabilities to prosperity for all. That is what this conference is about. So, all of those makes this conference, a historic moment,” she surmised.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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