Hours after Tropical Storm Kirk dumped over nine inches of rain on Barbados, battering the island and causing severe flooding, Prime Minister Mia Mottley made an impassioned plea at the United Nations (UN) for more assistance to be given to Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Speaking at the 73rd meeting of the UN General Assembly this afternoon in New York, an emotional Mottley apologized to the interpreters for ditching her prepared speech to focus on the damage which was caused by the passing weather system, as well as other natural disasters in the region and throughout the world.
During her speech, she also revealed that she would be cutting her trip short to return home.
“I want to pause at this stage because I came here with a speech that is impossible for me to deliver . . . . It is impossible to deliver a speech that is focused on anything else other than our reality in the Caribbean. Events have happened in the past 24 hours in the world in which we live that cannot be ignored.
“Whether in my own country, the passage of a tropical storm that we thought had passed us, only to have floods hit too many of our communities overnight, or for it to hit our sister country St Lucia,” the Prime Minister began.
“Whether an earthquake off the shore of Martinique and Guadeloupe and Dominica this morning, not affecting land but destabilizing; whether an earthquake off Indonesia today and a tsunami; or whether a typhoon that is about to deal with the people of Japan, these events are of concern, because the world in which we live is a very, different world.”
Describing it as a “matter of life and death”, Mottley called for the world’s leaders to act quickly.
She said while issues such as denuclearization and non-communicable diseases were important and needed to be spoken on prominently, the topic of climate change and the necessary funding being granted to SIDS was equally important.
Mottley contended that while SIDS such as Barbados would continue to do everything in their power at the national level to create policies and prepare for natural disasters, without the proper funding it would all amount to nought.
“When we make these arguments in forum after forum after forum, we are met with a stern face and a determination that our per capita income – as if that is a real factor in how people eat and how people move and how people sleep . . . should now preclude us from being able to access the very funding to protect our people from the worst ravages of these storms and the earthquakes,” she insisted.
“We will make the decisions that we have to make at the national level. We have committed to ban single-use plastics and Styrofoam from April of next year. We will ensure that we will try to become a fossil fuel-free country by 2030, but what does this mean against the background of a world that is not prepared to put the funding in place to be able to stop those worst aspects of climate change?
“What does this mean to people who are relying on a Green Climate Fund, because their per capita income or their capacity to be able to provide for their people is simply not there? Is this a sterile environment, or is this an environment that recognizes that, mighty or small, that we must protect each other in this world?” Mottley questioned.
The Prime Minister maintained that a behavioural change was needed “to be able to constrain the madness that is taking place in global governance with respect to the unilateral actions of many”.