Mia Mottley On The Money In Munich, Calling For Different Deal For Islands, Poor Countries.

File photo. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados is a strong advocate for a new deal for debt-ridden small nations that are affected by climate change.
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Countries on the front lines of climate change should have their debt forgiven, the prime minister of Barbados told POLITICO magazine as she continues to try to push an issue long considered taboo into mainstream discourse.

“We need to have a different deal for island countries and the poor countries of the world,” Mia Mottley told POLITICO and Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant in a recent interview at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

“Quite frankly, I think that we’re at a stage where we need another Jubilee moment — a debt cancellation policy,” she added, referring to a 1990s debt forgiveness campaign.

Small island countries have long called for debt relief, noted Michai Robertson, a research fellow at ODI who has served as a climate finance advisor to island nations.

“I always envisioned the Bridgetown Initiative as a first step,” he said, helping “ease people into the discussion.”

Tackling debt distress is a matter of climate justice, Mottley argued, given that wealthy countries are disproportionately responsible for global warming while poorer countries are disproportionally affected by climate change.

These climate-damaged countries, she said, are being told that to rebuild they must borrow at a “high premium, and that I must now, in borrowing, crowd out myself from being able to borrow to build schools, and to build hospitals.”

The practice, she added, “really is the injustice of the post-independence world.”

It’s not just global financial practices Mottley wants to change — it’s also how often officials get together to talk about these issues.

Over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, Mottley told the audience that she wants heads of state and government to convene climate summits not once a year, but two to three times. Not necessarily more COPs — the annual U.N. climate summit — but certainly more high-level gatherings.

“I think 12 months is too long a period for us to wait now to determine whether we’ve failed or succeeded in decision making and in execution,” she said, “because the window for effective action is narrowing.”

She added: “You don’t need the theatrics of the COP. You do need countries coming to the table.”

One idea is to delegate decision-making authority to regional bodies, Mottley suggested, “because 193 states sitting at a table will always be difficult.”

Dutch Climate Minister Rob Jetten, who met Mottley at the airport to discuss water management and finance issues, concurred: “If you want to make sure that we have new forms of insurance, financing, debt relief programs, etc., then you will have to meet each other a lot in the upcoming years because otherwise, we will be too late.”

Mottley also warned that preparing countries to handle climate shocks should get more attention than “sexy” issues like climate disaster funding, which is the focus of an ongoing global effort to erect a fund for communities to rebuild after extreme weather events.

Sources: Politico, UN, Wikipedia.
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