The Prime Minister made her United Nations debut on Monday, making a case for a better deal for Barbados and other small island developing states (SIDS) in trade policy and financing for disaster management and mitigation.
Speaking at a High-Level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations in New York this afternoon, she warned that small, vulnerable countries like Barbados did not have the capacity to fend off natural disasters, citing as a sober example the neighbouring island of Dominica, which is still reeling from Hurricane Maria a year later.
“Today, small island developing states are supposed to be at the frontline of climate change in terms of being the victims of climate change, but we don’t have the capacity to fend it off. Last year, Dominica lost 220 per cent of its GDP when Hurricane Maria hit it. That was on top of the 90 per cent of its GDP that it lost the year before when Erica hit it. There are weather systems that have no name but have just as much impact and literally eroded the ground from beneath us,” she told a panel discussion which she shared with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
Mottley was asked to speak on the question: What steps need to be taken at national and international levels to enhance the resilience of smaller countries to environmental and economic risks and shocks, including those related to debt sustainability?
She insisted that a question such as this required serious consideration be given to a country’s state of development.
Mottley went as far as to suggest that countries like Barbados had become invisible when it came to financing for its sustainable development.
“I’m not sure that, in spite of wanting to see the participation of small island developing states in the global community, that the global community is ready and willing. We are unequally yoked. More often than not we are left to deal with middle-level officials who are technocrats who don’t have the capacity to see beyond their particular silo approach, whether its finance, whether it is security, whether it is climate change,” she said, adding that progress would be difficult if states like her continue to be boxed in.
The Barbadian leader appealed for the creation of a less hostile environment within which SIDS can thrive and develop.
“We need a more hospitable environment first in terms of policy creation. We need ourselves in many instances… and this is not to deny that there have been a lot of missteps along the way in the developing world… but most developed countries had two, three centuries to get it right…. We are still at 50, 60 years. And that’s not taking responsibility for those who did nonsense. We will accept and move on from that point,” said Mottley.
She emphasized the need for a friendly and clear international climate where leaders speak to leaders.
The Prime Minister contended that if this did not happen, problems would confront the international community as to how to deal with lack of security and migration.