Fri | Feb 26, 2021

We are living in the best and worst of times – Barbados PM

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2020 | 12:10 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley.
Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley.

THE HUMAN Development Report (HDR) 2020 ‘The next frontier: Human development and the Anthropocene’ has taken into account, for the first time, the pressure countries put on the planet.

The experimental index, Planetary pressures-adjusted Human Development Index (PHDI) examined countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint, and its impact on human development.

During Tuesday’s launch, United Nations Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner highlighted that the result is “less rosy but [provides] clear analysis of human progress”.

Addressing the global event, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley described 2020 as a “cataclysmic year of extraordinary devastation”, which demands that countries take the necessary action to reduce the threat to quality of life and survival of future generations.

“We’re living in the best of times and the worst of times. We’re living in a time when in the last decade we have seen a global financial crisis, we’ve seen the rise in inequality, we’ve seen the climate crisis and now we have this awful pandemic,” she reasoned.

Mottley continued: “But at the same time, we live in the best of times because we still have enough time to change the course of history, if we have the will to summon up at this point.”

SHIFT FOCUS

She explained that over the last 30 years, the HDR has sought to shift the focus of development from the narrow lens of statistics on economic growth to a broader sweep of policies with people at the centre.

“In major ways, the human development report has been a beacon of light to Barbados and to many other small, middle-income countries like ours. Its central philosophy speaks directly to us and helps to capture and explore our own realities,” she pointed out.

She added that in 2020, the human race does not have the luxury of ignorance as the level of scientific knowledge freely communicated throughout interconnected societies shows without equivocation that human activity is endangering the planet.

The prime minister asserted that moral and ethical leadership is most urgently needed going forward.

“If we heed to this wake-up call and refuse to slide back into complacency when the current emergency recedes, I am convinced, my friends, that we can find the will and the capacity to implement policies that strike a sustainable balance between humanity and the planet,” Mottley outlined.

She added that this balance should ideally aim to redress social and economic inequalities between and within states; and incentivises behavioural change towards positive environmental stewardship.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com