NEW YORK – Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley repeated her call Thursday to rewrite the rules of global development banks to relieve the debts of middle and lower income countries and increase funding for climate adaptation.
“It cannot be easier for a young person to get a 30 year mortgage than for our country to get development funds to save the people and to save the planet,” said Mottley, who has championed an agenda to reform the global banks that have provided funding to less wealthy countries since the end of World War II.
The actor Hugh Jackman joined her and the cofounder and CEO of the nonprofit Global Citizen, Hugh Evans, at the opening of the Global Citizen NOW summit in New York, which brings together politicians, business and philanthropic leaders and celebrities to try to channel the support of individuals from around the world toward change.
“There is a $16 billion funding gap that the world’s wealthiest nations promised to the world’s poorest nations but haven’t delivered,” said Evans. “That creates a trust deficit. If you don’t have trust you don’t make progress.”
He was referring to a 2009 pledge to provide $100 billion in financing by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming and mitigate further rises in temperature. In 2023, those wealthiest nations have still not delivered the full amount.
Global Citizen's new campaign, Power Our Planet, essentially backs Mottley’s proposal in a move seeking to bring the reform of global banks and climate financing to the broadest audience, asking individuals to sign onto their call.
“We call on world leaders and financial institutions to prioritize the urgent need for global financial reform to power our planet and create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world,” the petition reads.
Mottley's plan, which has been endorsed by French President Emmanuel Macron, seeks to lower the interest rates for loans provided to countries and increase the amount of funds available to invest in climate adaption initiatives and the transition to cleaner energy sources.
“There’s no one else who created a technical consensus about how to reform the Bretton Woods institutions to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of public finance for these countries at a time when it’s desperately needed,” Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, who is championing Mottley's efforts, told The Associated Press.
Global Citizen is the organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty best known for its star-studded concerts in Central Park and last year in Accra, Ghana. It urges individuals from around the world to engage with its concerts, events and mobile application and seeks to channel that participation to pressure politician leaders to end poverty, respond to climate change and other issues around inequality.
On Global Citizen's mobile app, people can take quizzes, sign petitions or send out social media posts.
Dr. Dan Stein, founder of Giving Green, which publishes research and recommendations about climate change projects, said he supports the goals of Global Citizen's campaign but had reservations about its potential effectiveness.
“I would challenge people to go further than tweeting, emailing and petitioning,” he said, adding that his organization's research, “supports the idea that one of the most powerful levers that individuals can pull is to contribute to advocacy organizations.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada also appeared at the summit to champion an announcement from his government Thursday of renewed funding for grassroots organizations that advocate and promote gender equality around the world.
Erin Kiley, Oxfam Canada’s Director of International Programming and Development, welcomed the Canadian government's pledge of $195 million over five years in multiyear, unrestricted funding for grassroots organizations.
“This is particularly important at a time when we are seeing women’s rights and activists being targeted,” she said.
Speaking of challenges to abortion access in the United States, Trudeau said that advocates cannot take access to reproductive health care for granted and said men must participate more, urging fathers to speak with their sons.
“Having those difficult conversations now about women’s rights, about equality..." Trudeau said. “This is something that men have to be better about.”
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