Madam Vice President, permit me at the outset to congratulate His Excellency Abdulla Shahid for his election as President of the 76th session of the General Assembly as well as Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed on their reappointment to their posts and to assure them all of Barbados’ support.
If I used the speech prepared for me to deliver today, it would be a repetition. A repetition of what you have heard from others and also from me. How many more times will we then have a situation where we say the same thing over and over and over to come to naught?
My friends, we cannot do that anymore. Three years ago, when I made my maiden speech, I indicated from this very podium and told the international community that the world appeared perilously similar to how it looked like 100 years ago. Barbados made that position clear.
We have not come to say we told you so, but, regrettably, we have come to say that the needle had not moved and that we have not seen sufficient action on behalf of the people of this world.
I am not here therefore to keep you long today. I shall be very, very brief. How many more variants of COVID-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide action plan for vaccinations will be implemented? How many more deaths must it take before excess vaccines in the possession of the advanced countries of the world will be shared with those who have simply no access to the vaccine?
And I ask, how much more fake news will we be allowed to be spread without states defending the public digital space? We have come together with alacrity to defend the right of states to tax across the digital space, but we are not prepared to come together with the same alacrity to defend the rights of our citizens to be duped by fake news in the same digital space.
How many more surges must there be before the world takes action? None are safe until all are safe. How many more times, will we hear that? And how much more must we do, Madam Vice President, before we get the global moral strategic leadership that our world needs? How much more global temperature rise must there be before we end the burning of fossil fuels? And how much more must sea levels climb, imperiling Small Islands Developing States like mine, before those who profited from the emission of greenhouse gases contribute to the loss and damage that they occasioned, rather than asking us to crowd out the fiscal space that we have for development to cure the damage caused by the greed of others?
How many more hurricanes must destroy, locust devour and islands be submerged before we recognized that 100 billion dollars in climate finance are simply not enough? The answer, Madam Vice President, is that we are waiting for urgent global moral strategic leadership. How many more crises must hit before we see an international system that stops dividing us and starts to lift us up? How many more times must we come to this podium and speak about the plight of the people of Cuba and Haiti and see very little being done to lift the floor of social development to give them the right to pursue their legitimate aspirations? How many more, how many more crises and natural disasters before we see that assistance does not reach those who need it most and those who are most vulnerable.
How much wealthier must tech firms get? The top 5 tech firms have a market capitalization of 9.3 trillion dollars. I did not say “billion”, I said “trillion”. How much wealthier must they get before we worry about the fact that so few of us have access to data and knowledge and that our children are being deprived of the tools that they need to participate in online education?
Please click here to download a copy of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s full UNGA statement.