European Union External Action


15th session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development - Closing session - EU Statement

Geneva, 08/10/2021 - 09:59, UNIQUE ID: 211008_6
Statements on behalf of the EU

Madam President, Honorable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados;

Secretary General, Rebeca Grynspan;

Dear Excellencies, distinguished Delegates,

I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

Today we come to the end of a very different and challenging session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Preparations for this 15th session started almost two years ago. These preparations had to overcome many unexpected challenges and come up with most innovative and creative solutions to deliver on our shared objectives.

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the EU and its Member States, to commend and express our gratitude to the Chair, Ambassador Tarishi of Tanzania, and Friends of the Chair, Ambassador Villegas of Argentina, Ambassador Gaffey of Ireland, Ambassador Baddoura of Lebanon and Ambassador Suescum of Panama, for their excellent work in steering the preparatory work for this Conference. 

I would also like to thank all delegations for the constructive spirit they have demonstrated in the process, which was decisive in reaching a balanced and consensual outcome. This preparatory process, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, has taught us many lessons in terms of how we can work more effectively and efficiently together. The Spirit of Speighstown and the Barbados Covenant are only the pinnacle of this joint work.

Allow me to highlight only a few noteworthy elements of the outcome documents:

Despite at times difficult discussions, it is welcomed that the Covenant does not downgrade our shared belief in the importance of Human Rights, including gender equality, be it offline or online. We look forward to continue seeing UNCTAD’s good work on women integration into local, regional and global economy.

COVID-19 further exposed existing vulnerabilities, already high on our agenda due to the urgent threat of climate change. Be it of certain groups of people, of local communities or of entire countries. We welcome UNCTAD’s continuous efforts to address these vulnerabilities through its work on sustainable economic diversification, productive capacity building and promotion of enabling trade and investment environment, with closing the digital divide being the sine qua non for ensuring the success and inclusiveness of such action.

The Covenant includes solid commitments on revitalising the intergovernmental machinery, on result-based management and on focus of work on UNCTAD’s comparative advantage. The success of these commitments will, however, depend on our, the membership’s joint commitment to deliver. Our efforts on this will determine the future of the intergovernmental pillar and of UNCTAD’s ability to positively influence the global trade and development agenda.

Saving it for the end, I would also like to thank and commend the work of the UNCTAD Secretariat and of the host country Barbados in preparation of this Conference. It is no easy feat to organise a global Conference with the ongoing logistical challenges, ensuring high level and interesting panels, and provide continuous support to the membership. Difficult decisions had to be made and innovative solutions found along the way. We would like to thank Deputy Secretary General Isabelle Durant and Honorable Mia Amor Mottley, and their teams, for always finding a way.

But our work is not done. The success of this 15th session of the Conference will also be determined on how the negotiated outcome, the Barbados Covenant, is put into practice. In this sense, we strongly support the new Secretary General, Rebeca Grynpan, and especially her ambition to revitalize UNCTAD, ensure focused and constructive work, collaborate coherently with other organization, and work with all UNCTAD member States, towards our shared 2030 Agenda.

Clearly, the entire membership will need to play its part to make this possible. And I can only transmit the commitment of the EU and its Member States, as the largest development aid partner, to wholeheartedly support Madam Grynspan in this onerous, yet most necessary endeavour.

Thank you.

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