Mottley: Time to press gas

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is urging United Nations (UN) member states to “press gas” on efforts to help Barbados and other small island developing states (SIDS) finance their adaptation to the “horrifying” reality of climate change.

She said while there was progress, there was insufficient “speed and scope”, lamenting “it is geopolitics and national politics that is blocking progress in this world”.

Mottley voiced her concerns last Tuesday in Antigua while delivering Barbados’ national statement at the UN’s Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

“The frequency and scale of natural disasters causing human suffering, loss or compromised livelihoods, irreparable physical damage, and high economic costs are now regrettably a horrifying global reality,” the Prime Minister said.

“The chasm between United Nations member states spoken commitment and finance implementation condemns us and contradicts our . . . seriousness and sincerity. Our people will wonder what are we really doing when they look at this season of superlatives that is causing the untold damage that it is.”

Mottley said there was already a roadmap, which included the Barbados-led Bridgetown Initiative to remake the global financial system, “on how the international community can support the correction of the economic balance sheet of SIDS”.

She submitted, however, that “we must build a more responsive, fairer and more inclusive global financial system and we must do so with pace and with scope, speed and scope are exactly what is missing from our agenda. Not that we haven’t made progress, but insufficient progress”.

“You cannot treat a country that is on the verge of sinking with less than 200 000 people in the same way that you treat a country that has 30 million people with great resources. A climatic event for us is likely to be a whole-of-country event, and therefore likely to go at the core of our sovereignty and our capacity to survive,” she warned.

“The notion that we can continue to talk and talk and talk without establishing the framework for what will create a platform for hope is what is missing. It is geopolitics and national politics that is blocking progress in this world and until we recognise that to fight the climate, we need all countries irrespective of their geopolitics, irrespective of their national politics, we will be at risk of losing regrettably too many people whose lives should not be lost at the foot of this climate crisis,” Mottley added.

Her hope was that officials leave Antigua with a spirit of hope, recognising they might not get everything that they want, underscoring that the spirit of hope was necessary to keep countries buoyant. She urged to keep the fight up, noting that progress was made just not with sufficient speed and scope. She said it was important to now press gas.

With efforts to help SIDS finance their climate adaptation lagging, Mottley said “version 3.0” of the Bridgetown Initiative was launched last Tuesday for consultation.

She said it proposes consideration of a global solidarity levy for people for planet and also allows for a reflection on where these levies could come from with the least damage and the least burden on people.

Mottley explained this was “whether it is on fossil fuels’ windfall profits, whether it is on international financial transactions, or emissions from shipping and aviation that are intended all to be able to allow us to do the financing of global public goods, first and foremost climate but beyond climate”.

This, she said, was in addition to a new framework, a global compact with philanthropy, recognising  they [philanthropists] get to spend money on what they want. She stressed it was important for them to spend money on what the world needs as well.

“This will allow us to be able to have adequate financing for climate but other global public goods that are critical, because we are not a one issue people,” she said.

Mottley said this was important considering that “when compared with mitigation, there is truly inadequate financing available for adaptation and we must not allow the establishment of the Loss And Damage Fund to take our eyes away from the critical financing needed for adaptation”.

While calling for more financing for adaptation, the Prime Minister stressed financing was not the destination but the mechanism by which they become capable of executing projects that would allow countries to become resilient and ultimately prosperous. She called for a biennial assembly of SIDS heads at this stage, along with the establishment of a governance structure to oversee the implementation of the [Antigua and Barbuda Agenda For Small Island Developing States].

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