Agents of Impact | November 4, 2022

Mia Mottley, Barbados: Shaping the global finance agenda.

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 4 – Barbados is an island nation of just 166 square miles and less than 300,000 inhabitants. But its leader, Mia Mottley, has emerged as a powerful voice for island nations and other countries on the front lines of climate change. Her message: the global financial system erected after World War II needs to reform for an era marked by cascading climate, food and energy crises.

Mottley has called for more funding to be unlocked to help countries that have contributed little to global warming invest in climate resilience. As the COP27 climate summit kicks off next week, both developing and developed nations are coalescing around her Bridgetown Agenda to reform the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral development financial institutions. Named after the capital of Barbados, the three-part plan could give nations like Barbados a fighting chance to recover from devastating storms without drowning them in debt.

“Every dollar that we pay in interest is a dollar removed from helping to fight poverty,” she said on the sidelines of the World Bank’s recent meetings. 

Mottley, the first female prime minister of Barbados and the granddaughter of a Bridgetown mayor, was elected in a landslide in 2018. ​​Since then, the London School of Economics graduate has negotiated favorable deals for Barbados, still reeling from the Covid pandemic’s hit to Caribbean tourism.

She championed a debt for nature swap and secured $183 million from a new IMF climate resilience trust. She has called for solidarity among African and Caribbean nations and has proposed a 1% tax on fossil fuel sales in countries that contributed most to climate change – to pay for climate-related loss and damages.

“Failure to provide critical finance and that of loss and damage is measured in lives and livelihoods in our communities,” she told last year’s COP in Glasgow. “This is immoral and unjust.” Her deep, no-nonsense voice may make Western leaders squirm. Perhaps that is exactly what’s needed.