Statement for the V20 Expectations for a Fit-for-Climate Financial System by H.E Mia Mottley, Hon. Prime Minister of Barbados
Summit for a New Global Financing Pact
Thursday, 22 June 2023
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm CEST
In Person at Room 1, Palais Brongniart
This is almost as steep claim as the political will that has to change to make things happen.
My dear brother, and my other brother, Minister of Finance, Ken, we have just come from Accra and reality is that we have come to Paris and I want to thank them that the Africa Exempt Bank Annual General Meeting was scheduled for today and tomorrow. With the intervention of the President of Ghana and the agreement of Professor Arama it was changed, having had a public announcement go out because everyone understood the importance of our being here to build a common platform to not only save the planet but to give our people a chance at being able to have a proper life with dignity.
The reality is that there are too many countries in the world that have been propelled to the precipice and poly crisis, whether it is the pandemic, whether it is the continued climatic crisis, whether it is inflation continues to be devilish. We have asked for a different metric with respect to debt sustainability. We asked for it because it will allow us to be able to do far more on our own without having to depend on domestic politics or global geopolitics that is stifling all of us and is sucking the Oxygen out of the atmosphere.
The reality also is that if we can change that debt metric, which is being observed in the breach here in Europe, and for which 90% has become the standard, it then gives us some elbow room to do the things that we need to do. In addition to that, as I said in the last panel, the time has come for us to recognise that this moment is in fact equal or greater than even the jubilee moment. And that there is a justifiable case for a debt right off for the least developed countries of the world. And failure to appreciate that there is no equivalent example in the last 80 years of this poly crisis moment means that you will continue to bury your head in the sand and allow countries to implode.
I have said it over and over, we can restructure debt, we can reprofil debt, depends on what a country wants to do, but what we can’t do is bring back people alive, what we can’t do is to create institutions and let them function efficiently in two years, or three years or four years. We need time just as you need time for a tree to grow. We need time for institutions and society to heal and be able to get through these moments. And I don’t think that knowledge is peculiar to the Global South, so if it’s not peculiar to the Global South, why isn’t it happening? And if it doesn’t happen, have we forgotten the age old saying that “nature abhors a vacuum”?
Now we will either find the will to deal with debt, to deal with increasing the capital of the multilateral development banks. I am satisfied, as I said earlier, that I think that the private sector capital will be unlocked . There is enough creativity in the public and private sector, and fundamentally the west is about a capitalist system. So the private sector will be unlocked in order to earn money and the green transformation is good business. But there are people in our countries who can not benefit from private sector unlocking capital alone, and the governments have to stand in the breach. The private sector didn’t stand in the breach when the pandemic came. It was the government. It was the governments who had to take care of those people who lost all their income overnight. Similarly, if a climate crisis hits or drought hits, it’s the governments who have to deal with the uninsured or underinsured. It may get some help from philanthropy. it may get some help from the religious institutions, but that is still all an act of mercy. And we cannot run the world on acts of charity and mercy. And if the rules are not working for us, then the rules need to be changed. Who changes them? These governments. The governments are not an amorphous institution. It is people who populate governments, and whether we like it or not, if it doesn’t happen there, then there will be an alternative at some point because “nature abhors a vacuum”
It is much easier to modify the existing institutions that we have. But if it is the collective will of the world that you want new institutions then do nothing. Because new institutions will emerge if nothing is done.
So I will stop at this stage, Mark. I see my timing’s up and I want to honor all obligations and hope that I can use that as an example for others to do theirs.