Become part of the world’s biggest dialogue experiment.

Find out how you can get involved
  1. Home
  2. Global

Rethinking Humanitarianism | How a small island nation is leading the charge for more equitable global governance

Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s ambitious plan is changing the conversation around debt and disaster relief.

How a small island nation is leading the charge for more equitable global governance

For many countries in the Global South, tackling today’s interlocking crises – climate change, the pandemic, the rising cost of living supercharged by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – is made practically impossible by sky-high interest rates on runaway government debt.

Enter Barbados.

No world leader is being invoked more at the moment than Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley, along with her ambitious plan to change the global financial system to end this crippling debt and build climate resilience: the Bridgetown Agenda. 

For this episode of our podcast, Rethinking Humanitarianism, host Heba Aly sits down with two people close to the plan: Avinash Persaud, Mottley’s special envoy on finance and investment; and François Jackman, the island nation’s UN ambassador.

"We don't use the word reform too much, because for 50 years, countries have been saying reform, and that just leads to nothing,” Persaud tells Aly. “But we say there are five things that you can do. And if you did those achievable things, it would actually redraw the global financial system."

Launched in September, the Bridgetown Initiative (as it is also known) lays out a step-by-step roadmap that begins by pressing the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions to unlock financing on more palatable terms for crisis-hit countries so they can better prevent and respond to disasters. It also calls for the setting up of a global mechanism to accelerate private sector investment in mitigation and reconstruction.

Can this tiny Caribbean country of 300,000 people reform the international architecture around government debt and disaster relief?

Subscribe on SpotifyAppleGoogleStitcher, or YouTube, or search “The New Humanitarian” in your favourite podcast app.

Got a question or feedback? Email [email protected] or have your say on Twitter using the hashtag #RethinkingHumanitarianism.

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.