Mia Amor Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, gave the 16th UNCTAD Raúl Prebisch Lecture on 10 September 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The prestigious Raúl Prebisch Lecture is periodically delivered by a prominent thinker or head of state. It often tackles trade and development issues, but also covers other topical global concerns.
Prime Minister Mottley’s lecture is entitled “Invisible Yet Indispensable.”
If ever there was a time when the world needed an international order to harness global efforts to tackle challenges too great for any one nation, it is today. Climate change is not a theory, nor prospect, it is the lived reality for an increasing number.
Small island states, coastal and low-lying states are on the front line. But the world order has been fundamentally undermined by the ad-hoc exercise of power over universal principle. The more international institutions are democratic and treaty based, the more they have been stripped of power and funding.
Today power resides in self-selected groups of the large, and not just political power but the power of business too. Most countries feel vulnerable and unprotected. But the crumbling of the international order will hurt the large and powerful just as much as the weak and small: no country can stand up to climate change and related global threats on their own.
It is time to reinvent the international order. One that builds local resilience as well as promoting global competitiveness, for it will not stand if many of its members feel invisible and dispensable.