MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, Prime Minister of Barbados, questioned whether the world’s actions will be sufficient to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. She pointed out that, as of last year, 735 million suffered from chronic hunger, and that more people are likely to be hungry in 2030 than in 2015. Fundamental governance changes are thus imperative. While calling for a regulatory framework to ensure that artificial intelligence is used righteously, she observed that this area is not the immediate focus of many. Turning to climate change, she claimed that multinational corporations engaged in fossil fuels have always known the consequences of their actions. They must take responsibility and the international community needs to engage them meaningfully and credibly, she underscored, noting that their activities are bolstered by financial institutions as well as insurance and transport companies — they are, however, invisible in the transactions.
“We cannot continue to put the interests of a few before the lives of many,” she declared. At the same time, she commended the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) establishment of a Resilience and Sustainability Trust that that will make funds available to vulnerable middle-income countries. Welcoming that the World Bank has acknowledged the necessity of debt-pause clauses, she advocated for their applicability also to existing instruments. Reality has disconfirmed the belief that short-term money can finance development and resilience, she said, arguing that markets should be educated on why long-term capital is “the only salvation for people and the planet”. She also urged developed States to accept that reparatory justice is their obligation. This must be a conversation of equal partners rather than “an active charity of those who simply feel that their conscience must be cleansed,” she stated.
On regional issues, she stressed that the situation in Haiti should be resolved — a Government of national unity may be the only path to safety. There must be a compromise in forming it. While Cuba has helped many countries, it continues to be a victim of a blockade as well as categorized as a designated State sponsor of terrorism, she lamented, calling on the beneficiaries of that country’s assistance to stay united. The artificial division into good and bad cannot continue, as we need joint efforts to save the planet, she insisted. “How it is possible for Chevron and the European Union to access the oil and gas of Venezuela when the people of the Caribbean Community cannot access it at the 35 per cent discount offered by the people of Venezuela?” she asked, detailing this has put a burden of 4 per cent of GDP on her country.
She went on to express support for the United Nations accepting responsibility for tax. Although the world was able to find a mechanism for a global minimum corporate tax, it could not find a way to enhance financing opportunities for developing countries, she regretted. Despite making progress, world leaders need to recommit themselves to actions — the mission is to save the planet, give opportunities to live, save biodiversity and soils and ensure access to safe water. The Security Council should protect the world from the climate crisis rather than just speak to it, she emphasized, also asking world leaders to prompt their Governments to adopt decisions that will enhance funding, solidarity and trust. Nevertheless, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals also requires actions of individuals citizens — Governments should create conditions conducive to creating this synergy.
“Are we going to be too late for the SDGs?” Mia Mottley asked world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Friday, challenging them to “summon the determination to make the fundamental governance changes” that will turn the vision of sustainable development for all into a 21st century reality.
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