After months of delays and preparation, the UNCTAD 15 conference got underway with the first of five pre-Conference forums on Monday, 13 September.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley
Prime Minister Mia Mottley remarked that, “It is appropriate that the very first event of UNCTAD 15 is the Global Commodities Forum, which will speak to the issues of food security, water and the transition to sustainable renewable energy under the theme strengthening resilience in commodity-dependent countries.”
She was speaking, at the opening ceremony of the Global Commodities Forum, which is the first of five forums preceding the main conference.
Prime Minister Mottley pointed out that, “Small states are 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 our citizens and exposed when there are supply shortages.”
The session was streamed live from Barbados and Geneva, with attendance by participants from UNCTAD’s 195 member countries.
Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan
On her first day in office, Rebeca Grynspan, recently appointed Secretary General of UNCTAD, also addressed the opening ceremony of the Global Commodities Forum as her first official duty. Ms. Grynspan said that the Forum, “provides a high-level multi-stakeholder platform” to discuss commodity trade “with a focus on developing countries.” This forum is a place where developing countries can debate among equals.
Session 1 dealt with Food Security and Smart Agriculture: The Role of Technology and Services, with presentations from Arnaud Petit, Executive Director of the International Grains Council; Keeley Holder, Chief Agricultural Office Barbados; and Ena Harvey, Barbados Representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Vermaran Extavour and Roberto Sandoval, of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Sustainable Water Solutions
The second session of the day looked at Sustainable Solutions to Address Water Challenges. The presenters were Prof. Mesfin Mekonnen of the University of Alabama; Allan Williams, General manager of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation in Australia; André Langwost, Eurosolar in France; and Dr Adrian Cashman, a consultant with over 40 years of experience in the water sector.
Both sessions were co-moderated by Prof. Winston Moore in Barbados and Maggie Mutesi in Geneva.