I am not particularly enchanted by Caribbean politicians on the whole, but I do like the new Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley. She has a deep, rather soothing voice and a straight-forward manner. She is refreshingly lacking in pomposity. I also like the scarves she drapes over one shoulder (sorry, that sounds trivial, but I really like scarves). At the UN General Assembly meeting last year in September, her comments on climate change were trenchant and very much to the point. She was speaking a few weeks after Hurricane Dorian had devastated two islands in the Bahamas.
Here is her message for the New Year. Ms. Mottley couldn’t resist referring to the “clarity” of 2020 Vision, although I have heard that said so many times in the last couple of weeks! It’s already a cliché. The shrill singing at the beginning and end of the presentation is a little startling, but you can’t have everything I suppose.
The outline below does not include the announcement that the first ever African Union-CARICOM Summit will take place this year, and that CARICOM is setting up an office in Kenya. How interesting! I look forward to hearing more on this.
“Resilience” is a popular word when we discuss the climate crisis. However, as the CARICOM Chair says, Caribbean people have always faced incredible challenges. And there is no doubt about this: “We are a resilient people.”
Below is a summary of the New Year message. I hope that 2020 will indeed be a ground-breaking year for the region.
“We are duty bound to continue this journey across the Community whether as a collective of the whole or in twos and threes where we are gathered in a way that will:
- Remove the obstacles to passport-free movement between our nations;
- Make it easier for Caribbean people to go and work where there are opportunities in the Community in a way that is hassle-free in the same way that we have done it for the movement of capital. In keeping with our own Errol Barrow’s vision, the reality of our people must not only be a lived reality but also a legal reality. The Caribbean Community must lead the world in shaping an environment within which migrants among us can live and work with dignity. After all, our modern settlement in the Caribbean has been nothing but that of a community of migrants;
- Truly advance the process of a single domestic space for transport and communications in the region by working to provide more affordable and reliable air and sea links between our countries and also to establish a single domestic rate for telecommunications and phone calls within CARICOM;
- Work with the private sector and the labour movement to provide further opportunities beyond transport and communications mentioned above, to food security, to opportunities in the blue economy or renewable energy and ICT for our people – opportunities for investment and for employment;
- Enable us as we face the climate crisis, to pool the funds of the region in order to be able to finance our own development trajectory for sustainable development so that we may adapt to the new realities of the climate crisis. This will require us coming up with innovative instruments that will better allow us to access the capital that we are not now accessing at a global level. Let us remember that those who help themselves will always be helped by others but we must help ourselves first by pooling our own resources.”