The UN Secretary-General on Sunday said he was committed to ensuring that the Organisation is a place where “youth voices are heard, and their ideas lead”, as he spent the day in Barbados which tomorrow hosts a major UN conference on trade and development, focused on the need to build a global green economy and recover equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic.

António Guterres arrived in the Caribbean island nation on Saturday and will be addressing the hybrid format UNCTAD15 conference which begins on Monday, under the theme, From inequality and vulnerability, to prosperity for all.

Today in Barbados I met a dynamic group of young people working on innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges – from #ClimateAction to #COVID19 recovery.

I’m committed to ensuring the @UN is a place where youth voices are heard and their ideas lead.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) October 3, 2021

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will be giving the opening remarks virtually, followed in the Barbadian capital Bridgetown, by the event’s host, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, and Secretary-General of UNCTAD, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, Rebeca Grynspan.

Recovery, debt focus

In his remarks, Mr. Guterres is expected to underscore the challenges of tackling debt distress and the need to mount a sustainable and equitable recovery for all, according to his Deputy Spokesperson, who briefed journalists at UN Headquarters on Friday.

“He is also expected to highlight the need to re-ignite the engines of trade and investment, and ensure they benefit the poorest countries, as well as the need to build a global green economy”, said Farhan Haq.

Protect the most vulnerable

In a tweet on Sunday, after meeting Prime Minister Mottley – who will serve as President of UNCTAD15 – the UN chief reminded that in a powerful speech to the UN General Assembly last week, she had highlighted the importance of investing in protect the most vulnerable across the world; “a priority for this island nation, and one I’ll continue pushing for”, added Mr. Guterres.

He spent the day meeting Government officials and was due to visit climate change-impacted areas of Barbados, to see for himself the effect of erosion and land degradation. He was also due to visit a community recovering from the passage of Hurricane Elsa, which formed on 2 July this year, as the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season.

Along with M. Mottley, the Secretary-General also met what he described on Twitter as “a dynamic group” of young Barbadians, “working on innovative solutions to the world’s great challenges – from climate action, to COVID-19 recovery.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres looks across the Caribbean Sea from the island of Barbados.

UN News/Daniela Gross

UN Secretary-General António Guterres looks across the Caribbean Sea from the island of Barbados.