Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley . (FP)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has told a global community that the capacity of small isolated islands to feed themselves has been severely constrained by international trade rules.

Ms. Mottley made the comments as she virtually addressed Monday’s opening of a high-level segment of the 68th Session of the Trade and Development Board, in Geneva, being held from June 21 to July 2. The theme of the forum is: Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures: Preparatory meeting on the road to UNCTAD 15 and LDC5.

The Prime Minister told her audience that the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis had brought into stark focus the issue of food security, which she described as a major concern for small isolated islands at the bottom of the list on the supply chain.

“One hurricane or as was recently the case in St. Vincent, one volcanic eruption, can wreak havoc on our capacity to feed our people. Not to mention that the very capacity to do so has been severely constrained by international trade rules, making small-scale farming unprofitable for our countries, and intensifying our dependence on food imports, and thus on the vagaries of international supply and transport arrangements, … [which are] subject to disruption,” she explained.

Ms. Mottley added that when countries imported the majority of what they consumed, with much of it produced by industrial-scale methods, they might be unwittingly exposing themselves to anti-microbial resistance, which is expected to be the biggest global health threat by 2050.

“We can predict it now, but the real question is whether the global community is prepared to make the necessary investment in research and to take the pre-emptive action. Unfortunately, it seems that 2050 is too far on the horizon, for too many, to be deemed a priority for today’s decision-makers,” she opined.

She underscored the importance of the upcoming UNCTAD 15 conference being transformational, and the discussions making a difference to countries. She noted that when UNCTAD was established in 1964, those times were unusual and called for extraordinary measures.

“Much has been achieved by UNCTAD in its advocacy role on behalf of developing countries, but there is still unfinished business. Perhaps the most extraordinary measure for these extraordinary times would be for UNCTAD to truly rediscover its committed activism on behalf of the developing countries, who still strive to reform an international order not designed by, or for them,” Ms. Mottley said.

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