Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley believes there has to be a global approach to combating climate change in order to prevent smaller nations being disadvantaged.
Mottley was speaking at the Africa Investment Forum Opening Ceremony which was held in Marrakech, Morocco, on Wednesday, and expressed the belief that it was important citizens from small island developing states (SIDS) could benefit from investments made by their Government.
“If we are continuously fighting the climate crisis and the consequences, it will be difficult to raise the quality of life of our people. That is why we believe there has to be a unified approach to creating a more level playing field,” she explained.
“We have, through collaboration with others, brought to the table the ‘Bridgetown Initiative’ which is intended to lower and level the cost of money and capital to our countries. We face the common difficulties of the global south in not being able to access capital at rates that make investment palatable and we recognise that we pay a premium largely because of foreign exchange risks. Unless we pause to deconstruct things, we are not going to be able to have the bounty that development ought to offer us while at the same time being able to develop the resilience we need.”
Mottley also mentioned this challenge has presented an opportunity for collaboration between Barbados and Africa.
“For many years we in the Caribbean have spoken about the climate crisis and indicated that we were the canaries in the mine- a small island developing state (SIDS),” Mottley continued. “But we have so failed to act that others have joined (before us) and in particular in this continent, you have felt through droughts, floods, hurricanes, the full impact of climate change. This has given us an opportunity to show how we can work together again, not just on the immediacy of the political actions which are necessary for the climate crisis, but most importantly the oxygen necessary for development.”
Mottley continued: “We cannot choose one issue over the other and the mistake that is being made is to ask us to choose people over the planet. In those circumstances our journey has been similar in terms of the lack of economic diversification, the exploitation we have faced and the challenges we must mount now in order to lift our people and allow them to be educated to be the best citizens they can be.”
In an attempt to be proactive in the battle against climate change, Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ryan Straughn introduced the Debt (Natural Disaster and Pandemic Deferment of Payment) Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2023 in the House of Assembly last month.
If passed, it will be amended to allow for the deferment of payment of the amortisations and payments due on debt in the case of a natural disaster. It will also factor in pandemic events and the definitions of natural disasters have been amended to mean an earthquake, tropical cyclone and excessive rainfall which factors in the wider implications from climate change. (JC)