By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) – Faced with the financial fallout from the cost of living, debt and climate crises, government has unveiled its Bridgetown Agenda as a guide for urgent and decisive transformation of the international financial system.
Prime minister Mia Amor Mottley alluded to this charter and its benefits to the country’s development as she delivered the inaugural lecture in the Kofi Annan Lecture Series in New York, United States of America recently.
She told the gathering that the government had started “the exercise” of engaging civil society, academics, and some countries in the world and based on the shared experiences, a small list of priority areas was compiled that “are strategic and focused and that have, in our view, the rarity of being both achievable and meaningful”.
Explaining the rationale for the document, the prime minister, said:
“We call it the Bridgetown Agenda because we asked people to come and join us there and to reflect on these things, so that we can see how we can make the world a better place. Not because Barbados has that power. We don’t, we are 166 square miles: But it is because we have that conscience and we feel the need to speak, even if others will call it a cry of conscience, and even if others will ask – who are they?”
She continued: “We are simply ordinary people trying to make the world a better place and trying to appeal to those who actually have the power, so to do. Today, we remind them and we remind ourselves that it is unprecedented because we have a trifecta of connected crises. The cost of living crisis, stemming…partly from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the pandemic together, coming as they did, overlapping; and a developing country debt crisis, following the pandemic and climate-related disasters….
“May I remind you that tourism and travel dependent economies, such as mine, came out of the first year of the pandemic with double-digit economic declines because the tourists simply could not come because of the shutdown.”
Mottley referred to the intense storms and hurricanes impacting countries around the world as “the heart attacks of the climate crisis”. She also described droughts and Sargassum Seaweed as the “chronic NCDs of the climate crisis”, calling both “fatal”.
The prime minister noted that the situation was compounded by tightening monetary policies in developed countries and the strengthening of the US dollar.
Adding that one in five countries today was experiencing fiscal and financial stress, she said if unaddressed, there would be deepening hardship, debt defaults, widening inequality, political upheaval and a delayed shift to a low-carbon world.
“We must act now, not next year or a year after. We cannot be good at rescuing banks, but not good at saving countries,” stressed Barbados’ prime minister.