UNCTAD 15 CONFERENCE FOR BARBADOS GOES VIRTUAL

The UNCTAD 15 Conference which will be hosted by Barbados from 3 to 8 October 2021 will now be a virtual event. Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, and UNCTAD’s Acting Secretary-General, Ms. Isabelle Durant, just made this announcement.

The Conference is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It was initially scheduled to be held in Barbados from 18 to 23 October 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, had to be postponed twice. Organisers had been exploring safe bubbles and biospheres, and how to reconfigure spaces and locations.

However, <strong>Prime Minister Mottley</strong> explained that, "<em>The intensifying global spread of COVID-19; the appallingly inequitable distribution of vaccines; the uncertainties of international travel and of likely participation numbers - all make it impractical for us to continue to plan and simply hope for the best</em>." After consultation with the UNCTAD Secretary-General, and weighing all the risks, they have accepted the reality that <strong>UNCTAD 15</strong> can no longer be convened, physically, in Barbados during 2021.

However, Prime Minister Mottley explained that, “The intensifying global spread of COVID-19; the appallingly inequitable distribution of vaccines; the uncertainties of international travel and of likely participation numbers – all make it impractical for us to continue to plan and simply hope for the best.” After consultation with the UNCTAD Secretary-General, and weighing all the risks, they have accepted the reality that UNCTAD 15 can no longer be convened, physically, in Barbados during 2021.

The Prime Minister was quick to give the assurance that negotiations on the Outcome Document for UNCTAD 15 are already proceeding virtually and the formal statements in the General Debate can easily be adapted to that format, as was successfully piloted at last year’s UN General Assembly. She added that, “As for the rest of the programme for UNCTAD 15, the virtual space now gives us almost unlimited scope to make our Conference an exceptional experience. An experience that transcends the boundaries of a single week in October, but can build up to and outlast that week in whatever ways our imagination wishes to take it.”

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