When the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, rose to the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year, she was in no mood to hold back. In front of world leaders, she denounced the "faceless few" who were pushing the world towards climate catastrophe and jeopardizing the future of small island states like hers.
“Our world doesn't know what it's playing with, and if we don't control this fire it will burn us all,” she said in September. Drawing on words from reggae singer Bob Marley, she added, “Who will stand up and stand up for the rights of our people? "
The impassioned speech would make headlines around the world and for many it was an opportunity to discover Ms. Mottley. But the Prime Minister of Barbados, champion of the Earth for political leadership this year, has spent years campaigning against pollution, climate change and deforestation, making Barbados a leader in the global environmental movement. .
“Prime Minister Mottley has been a champion for those most vulnerable to the triple global crises of climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, pollution and waste,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). “His passionate advocacy and policy accomplishments are prime examples of how world leaders can take bold and urgent action on environmental issues. "
Ms Mottley was elected Prime Minister in 2018 with more than 70% of the popular vote, becoming Barbados' first woman ruler since independence in 1966. Under her leadership, the country developed an ambitious plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2030. His will is that almost every house on the island should have solar panels on the roof and an electric vehicle parked in front.
Ms Mottley, who said she finds inspiration in the forests which cover almost 20% of Barbados, also oversaw a national strategy to plant more than 1 million trees, with the participation of the entire population. . The plan aims to promote food security and build resilience to climate change.
“Our world doesn't know what it's playing with, and if we don't control this fire, it will burn us all.” Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados
Here is a determination that could not be more timely as a new UNEP report suggests that the world is heading for a temperature increase of 2.7 ° C , a level that could lead to catastrophic changes for ecosystems of the planet. With the appeal of Ms. Mottley, Latin America and the Caribbean became the first region in the world to agree on the Action Plan for the UN Decade for ecosystem restoration , an effort to prevent and to reverse the degradation of natural spaces around the world. A UNEP report released in June 2021 found that for every dollar invested in ecosystem restoration, up to 30 dollars are generated economic benefits.
Ultimately, Ms Mottley believes that tackling environmental decline is essential to spur economic development and fight poverty. Responding to climate-related disasters "affects your ability to finance your development on sustainable development goals" , she said. “Other things that matter to people on a daily basis, like education, like healthcare, like roads, are all affected because you have limited budgetary flexibility to be able to do what you would otherwise. "
Prime Minister Mottley has spent years campaigning against pollution, climate change and deforestation, making Barbados a leader in the global environmental movement.
She has also been a strong advocate for developing countries vulnerable to climate change, especially small island states which are expected to be inundated by rising seas. During a visit by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Barbados in October, she stressed the importance of making funds available to developing countries to adapt to climate change. For developing countries, the cost of the fight against climate risks such as droughts, floods and rising seas amounts to 70 billion dollars a year and could reach 300 billion per year by 2030.
“We have to recognize that if we don't take a break at this point and deal with the thorny issue of funding, we're going to be in trouble,” Mottley said.
To help Barbados adapt to the climate crisis, Ms Mottley led a national resilience program called Roofs to Reefs. The initiative will include the use of innovative financial tools to increase public spending in all areas of the building houses the restoration of coral reefs, which help protect the coastline from storms. Roofs to Reefs has been hailed as a model for other countries threatened by climate change.
Under Madame Mottley, Barbados has stepped up efforts to prepare for climate change, including strengthening its coral reefs, important buffers against storms.
Ms. Mottley is also co-chair of the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance , leading an international effort to fight against antimicrobial resistance (R) - a major threat to the environment, human health and economic development. Resistance to risk is the ability of organisms to resist the action of pharmaceutical drugs used to treat disease in humans and animals. The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, can exacerbate climate change, loss of nature and biodiversity, pollution and waste.
Mrs Mottley was elected Prime Minister in 2018 with over 70% of the popular vote, becoming the first woman ruler of Barbados since independence in 1966.
As the world continues to recover from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Mottley stressed that a green economic recovery is critical to the fiscal survival of her tourism-dependent country and warned that maintaining the status quo would accelerate the climate crisis.
“I think the combination of the pandemic and the climate crisis presented the perfect political moment for human beings to take a break and really take a look at what we're doing,” she said. “What I really, really want in this world is that we can have a sense of responsibility towards our environment, but also towards future generations. "