Originally published in the National Observer on December 8, 2021.
It is the combination of power, defiance, intelligence and compassion that made the prime minister of the world’s newest republic, Mia Amor Mottley, a lightning rod that highlighted the ineffectiveness of world leaders at COP26 at advancing action to combat the climate crisis.
On Tuesday, the UN Environment Program announced the prime minister of Barbados was one of its 2021 Champions of the Earth, the world body’s most prestigious environmental honour. Mottley was recognized in the policy leadership category for her “powerful voice for a sustainable world from the Global South, consistently raising the alarm about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to the climate emergency.”
Instead of using the conference with its other exalted members of state to deliver platitudes and soliloquies that buttress the vanity of power, Mottley used her platform, reclaimed her time and administered a searing speech that cornered the intentions of the leaders of the Global North and reduced them to selfish and rapacious fecklessness.
And in that verbal disquisition on the inequities of the disproportionate impacts that are borne on Small Island Developing States, she championed the advocacy of climate activists, progressive allies, anti-racists and intersectional feminists alike.