Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Adrian Forde has defended the just concluded overseas trips related to climate change taken by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her team.
This comes in light of criticism from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the Prime Minister was spending taxpayers’ dollars on a large contingent for those trips but the country was not reaping the benefits. DLP Vice-President Paul Gibson raised the issue on Monday on a local radio programme.
However, introducing a resolution on the Barbados Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2020 in Parliament on Tuesday, Forde dismissed the criticism while insisting that the overseas travel was benefiting Barbados and the rest of the region on the issue of climate change.
Without naming Gibson, Forde said “I want today to say to those Barbadians who are making a lot of noises, because that is what it boils down to at the end of the day – talking ‘bout our Prime Minister travelling all over the world. When she is travelling all over the world she is able to augment confidence in organisations like the Convention of Biological Diversity and other United Nations organisations to say ‘we are going to put our financial strength behind small island developing states like Barbados’, because they have the confidence that we will execute our plans and our projects.”
“When she is travelling around the world on behalf of Barbados and on behalf of the Caribbean by extension . . . she is able to bring a level of confidence to international organisations, especially financial institutions, so that they could put their efforts behind small countries like Barbados,” he insisted.
Mottley, who was recently named the UN Champion for Global Change at the UN Foundation’s annual Global Leadership Awards in New York, attended the opening of COP27 in Egypt, where she was accompanied by several local officials.
Forde said the trips relating to climate change have already started to reap benefits. In fact, he said, impressed with the island’s biodiversity action plan, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved US$220,000 for the country’s preservation and conservation efforts.
“So when the Prime Minister leaves this country and goes on the international scene and the international community listens to her and they understand that she is serious about preserving the environment, that she is serious about climate change, she is serious about doing all those things that will help us mitigate and adapt to the vagaries of it, they are willing and they open their arms and they allow us to be given that financial assistance, that technical assistance and that scientific assistance so that we can build our programmes and projects like the Barbados National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2020,” he explained.
“That is the reason why she travels – to represent this country and allow persons to invest in it and invest in projects that we would normally have to pay for as a country. The Treasury and the taxpayers of Barbados don’t have to look for BDS$440,000 to build out a plan to be able to preserve our ecological systems and enhance our country and our people. GEF has decided to do it for us and that is why the Prime Minister is the figure that she is, leading the Caribbean and leading the world,” said Forde.
“This is just one of the many, many projects that we have been given financial assistance for because Barbados is now seen as the mecca of the Caribbean and I make no apologies for saying so,” he added, without naming the other projects.