tv Global Questions Lessons from... BBC News August 7, 2021 7:30am-8:01am BST
the south—west city of zaranj, the first provincial capital to fall to the militants for five years. during a un emergency meeting to discuss the worsening violence, its envoy to the region demanded the militants end their offensive. the the militants end their offensive. greek governmer half the greek government has put almost half the country's regions on high alert as wildfires continue to spread. huge pillars of smoke billowing on the outskirts of athens. a man has been killed in a village north of the city after being hit by falling electricity pole. the penultimate day of action at the olympics is underway in tokyo. kenya's peresjepchirchir won the women's marathon, claiming the country's second consecutive gold medal in the event. later, medals will be up for grabs in diving, volleyball, and golf.
now on bbc news, prime minister of barbados mia mottley answers questions from a local audience on a range of issues that affect them and what they want their government to deliver. hello, and welcome to global questions with me, zeinab badawi, from barbados. i'm in the capital, bridgetown, outside parliament overlooking independent square. in november this year barbados marks its 55th anniversary by becoming a republic. queen elizabeth will no longer be head of state. what does this tell us about the identity and future of barbados and the rest of the region? the caribbean has been very badly affected by the economic fallout of covid and people are looking to their political leaders for solutions. that is global questions: lessons from barbados.
i'm now here at the 18th—century george washington house, one of the finest historic buildings in barbados, and i am joined by a local audience who are going to be putting their questions to their prime minister, the honourable mia mottley. and mia, i should say that you are also the minister of finance, economic affairs and investment in barbados, so a very busy lady. you've had a series of careers first. you're not only the first female prime minister in barbados. you're also the first woman to have led the opposition and to have held the post of attorney general, so a lot to live up to there. prime minister, welcome to you. thank you. and to all of you. remember, you canjoin the conversation at the hashtag #bbcglobalquestions. applause. thank you. let's get down to our first question, prime minister. what do you want to ask mia mottley?
madam prime minister, what is barbados hoping to achieve when it becomes a republic? to be able to settle for our citizens once and for all that they do not and will not be inferior to anyone on this earth. we have for too long had to accept the fact that the head of state of this country is somebody who we don't choose. we have no say in how they are appointed and it causes us to feel in many instances that there are two sets of people. we hope to bring this to an end, and we hope that it will give the confidence and the sense of high self—esteem that our citizens need in order to be able to be more productive and in order to be able to chart our own destiny. when you look at our history and how we got here then you realise that having a head of state who is a non—barbadian is an anachronism that this country can no longer afford to carry.
and secondly, that we use this opportunity to be able to set the tone and to create the framework for establishing once and for all who we want to be and what we want to stand for. that requires a change in not just form but substance. to that extent, therefore, we are not only changing the head of state. we hope to be able to start the discussion for a new constitution, but a new constitution that looks at the different roles, responsibilities and indeed rights of citizens. but before you even get there, i think we need to settle a document that says, look, this is who we are. this is what we stand for. and on our ownjourney here as a government, we did something similar in 2016 with the covenant of hope. we want to be able to let people know that nation—building
is not a passive act. it is very much an active entity, and if it is active, then we need to know who we are and what we stand for. all right. but you know, mia mottley, there are those in barbados who say look, the queen is a very benign presence. and secondly, you have just decided to do this. you haven't put this to a referendum. well, first of all, anyone who tells you that doesn't know the history of this country. we have been discussing a republic now since the late 1990s, and the 1998 constitutional reform commission that was led by sir henry forde and across a broad civil society and across all political parties recommended yet again that this is the direction in which we go. we actually — i was attorney general when we looked at the issue of a referendum, and then all political parties and all other elements of civil society have more or less in the last 20 years said this is a time that has come and that we don't need any more discussion. and let me be very clear — our determination that we want to be the very best that we can be is not a reflection
to denigrate anyone. and we have utmost respect for the royal family, utmost respect for her majesty, utmost respect for prince charles, who is a great friend of barbados. but equally, we have utmost love for our people and ourselves. when we look into the mirror, the image that we need to see is somebody who is capable of being able to rise to the top of this country's officers, and is a non—executive president capable of reflecting the best of who we are and understanding what we face every day. alright. very quickly, what about the commonwealth? could you leave that too? absolutely not. we believe in the commonwealth. and as you know, there are many, many african countries that are republics within the commonwealth, and there are caribbean countries as well. dominica is a republic, trinidad & tobago is a republic. they are all in the commonwealth — guyana. regrettably, these are some of the issues and these are red
herrings that people float out there to determine whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. but we're not leaving the commonwealth. in fact, we have a question about the commonwealth from pierre cook. going forward, will the commonwealth still be our main international platform, or will you look for other international partners? the commonwealth will continue to be one of our key platforms on which we function. it has never been the only one. in fact, the main one is caricom, the caribbean community. we have determined that among ourselves within the region, we will treat each other better and stronger than any other group. that is why we have the caricom single market and single economy — no different from the european union, no different now from africa with the africa continental free trade area. equally, we are a key member of the organisation of african, caribbean and pacific states. and those are partners across the atlantic, across the pacific, and those are critical especially in today's age.
let me give you an example. we have been talking for example about the impact of climate on small—island developing states. they have come to the conclusion that we are not heard and not seen, and therefore we are changing the narrative to between the tropics of cancer and capricorn, because those are the countries that are going to be affected in the climate crisis. once we do that, our colleagues in africa become our natural allies. our colleagues in the pacific become our natural allies. and to that extent, whether it is the commonwealth or the acp, as it is now called, or whether it is aosis, the alliance of small island states, we will have multiple entities in which we operate — including of course the united nations. the united nations. yes. i was going to bring up the united states, because of course the caribbean is america's backyard. we don't like to say that, it gives the wrong impression. yes, true. you are in america's neighbourhood, because at its
closest point it is only 70 km from cuba to the united states. seven military us bases are here in the caribbean. but people are beginning to wonder whether you are looking further east. we had a question on social media, prime minister, which says "i honestly would like to know why we in barbados are so ingratiated with china. why are we in so deep with china?" so are you swapping one superpower for another? well, once again i regret that the person who asked the question doesn't know our history. in 1977 barbados established relations with the people's republic of china. this is 44 years ago, and therefore to suggest that we are now seeking to ingratiate ourselves with china means that you don't understand where we've come from or what we're doing. any country that lives in this world today, that exists in this world, ought to have relations with every country. and china is clearly a global power and for us not to have a relationship with china, even if we didn't have one 47 years ago,
would be foolish. but you've been very complimentary about china. you had a phone conversation with president xijinping recently. you said this is about strengthening the relationship with china in 2019. the government signed up to the bri, the big infrastructure projects, and so on. some people are suspicious. they think that china wants to buy the family silver. let us put it this way. we have also been very complimentary of the americans and the british and canadians, so for me not to be complimentary of china seems unusual. secondly, for persons who believe that because we want to be friendly with china means that we're a pawn tells us what they think about us in the first place. because we are capable of being, as our first prime minister said, friends of all and satellites of none. but it is notjust barbados that is moving closer to china. it is the whole
of the caribbean. no, it is the whole world. investment from china has gone up manyfold in the last five years. collectively, i think the chinese will in large percent provide assets for the united states of america and a large amount of treasury as well. for you to focus on the caribbean or africa with china, without recognising the role that china is playing in europe or in the north atlantic countries, is a bit disingenuous. it really reflects more that we are seen as pawns, regrettably, rather than countries with equal capacity to determine our destiny and to be part and parcel of that global conversation to fight the global issues of the day, like climate and the pandemic. alright — well, that's put me in my place, hasn't it? prime minister mia mottley, thank you. not at all, my dear. we will go to the next question to provide me with a bit of relief. kevon henry, your question please. prime minister, you have added your voice to the global discussion on reparations. we can agree that reparations are due to african descendants and to their nation states. how do you view what mechanisms
should be used in handling the issue of reparations? let us start from the perspective that reparations for us is not a barbadian issue alone. this is a caricom issue, and there is a ten—point caricom plan. barbados, and at this moment i happen to be the prime minister, has led responsibility for reparations in caricom. i am not surprised because we were the country where the modern expression racism took form, regrettably, in the 17th century and in the 18th century. because barbados is the first british slave society. absolutely, and a lot of the laws and a lot of the iniquitous practices came out of here. and that's why you've heard me say that our parliament has had broken service — that we have both been seen as an instrument of oppression but it's now a tool of empowerment in the last 80 or so years. we start from that perspective. reparations for us is a development issue, and it's one we believe
whose time has come. 20 years ago, when we first started having this discussion, people would laugh us out of the room. when emancipation came, there was a compensation to slave owners of £20 million. we asked ourselves today, when these countries became independent, what was the development compact given to us? we got no development compact to help us with housing or education or health, but all of the wealth that was extracted from these countries for centuries were used to build the monumental edifices that we see all across europe and north america. when the british were asked for compensation, like the slaveowners were, they were told your freedom is your compensation. how about that? and that once again is an offhand comment that causes us to feel that you think we are pawns are not human beings.
we say simply, look, we're not seeking to do anything that is unusual. but we believe that our people have a right to development and therefore we feel that there is need for a conversation, particularly for the developing countries of the world, who were made victims for centuries of the extraction of wealth on a continuous basis. let's go to ian melville now. he wants to ask a question about the economy. just before he speaks i should say to you, prime minister, that guy hewitt from the opposition here in barbados says all this talk about the republic and so on isjust a convenient distraction from covid and the economic crisis. that's what he said. well, a man who served on the commission to the uk whose sole claim to fame is that i would say so about a republic — i don't have a difficulty with that. ok, but he says it is a distraction from the economic crisis here, so let's hear about the economic crisis. good afternoon, prime minister. a year or so ago you announced a group of individuals who would get together to look for new ideas and directions for our economy. since then it seems to have been very quiet. where are we in this subject?
in the public domain, not just what you have heard. we are still on it, on renewable energy for example we have just gotten a major study completed that looks at the issue of offshore wind energy that would see 1 billion us dollars of investment that would help us meet the 2030 targets. with respect to tourism, the minister for tourism is here and she will tell you that covid, covid, covid. covid, covid, covid. the bottom line is that even as we have begun to reopen we look at the performance figures of all tourism and travel —dependent economies last year. the only countries that did as bad or worse than us were war—torn countries, libya and lebanon. collectively the impact has been horrific, because when you then start to look at the reduced demand forfood and reduced demand for goods and services across the board you then see other parts of the economy suffering. but you are laying all the problems at the door of
covid. the covid crisis and the impact it has had on tourism. obviously that has been decimated here but you have known for a long time prime minister and they've been talking in barbados about diversifying the economy. 40% of your gdp is from tourism. i am coming to that. which is much higher than the average for the whole caribbean region which is about 17%. 40% of yourjobs are tourism. you have known this for a long time, you need to diversify. and that is exactly what we're trying to do. remember i inherited a government that for 40 or 50 years peole talked about diversification. but as usual, it's when a woman turns up, she has to do it. so let's get to it. this barbados will never be able to compete with high volume low value manufacturing. we need to go after high—value manufacturing and we need to go after research. but you need to grow what you eat. i am coming to that. you are coming to everything when i say it. 80% of the food consumed in barbados is imported.
you need to produce what you consume. and that is exactly what we have been doing. but you can't produce food without water. what have we been doing? the government has spentjust under $10 million doing a series of dams across the country so that what we are responding to first and foremost is correcting decades of ignoring the critical aspects that are necessary in order to increase food production. we have had some interruptions. the worst ash fall in 119 years and the worst hurricane in 66. i would call it a trifecta. a triple whammy. so you need to cut your prime minister some slack. we're opposite the garrison where the horse races are run so i call it a trifecta. that will do, thank you. let's go to our next question. good afternoon. prime minister mia mottley, what measure would you put in place to help with youth unemployment? let's give out the figure. it is about 32% as opposed to the national average of 17%.
the national about 17.5%. the first time a politician goes up, not down. 17.5%. so, look... one of the great problems that we have had now is being able to find jobs across the board. and because of the implosion in the private economy in particular, what we're doing is trying to run a cyclical fiscal deficit, a lot of fancy language for the fact the government will have to step in and create the projects in order to be able to allow people to go forward. we also recognise that barbados is simply a hub on this globe and therefore we are not looking only to the economic activity within barbados to create opportunity for our young people to get work and it is to that extent, training and training becomes absolutely critical. education and training. the first thing we did as a government was to reintroduce free education at tertiary level for our young people because without those
skills than they would be hewers of wood and drawers of water. that is not what we want. we want caribbean people to do work in africa, in europe, to work from anywhere, both from here or if they have to travel. similarly we recognise that, as i said, tourism alone will not do it and young people with technology and capital will be at the forefront of agriculture and at the forefront of the digital economy and the creation of apps and other things that can help a wider population base than the 300,000 we have here or the base that we have within caricom. our next question. first ijust want to say a public thank you because i am a beneficiary of the free education and one of the contractualjobs you have created for young people so i want to publicly thank you for that.
applause you have a lot of fans here today, prime minister. my question today is about climate change, however. how big a risk do you see climate change is to barbados and the region and how do you see your policies and plans positively affecting us in the next 5—10 years or so? it is huge. let's not delude ourselves. we see and feel it all the time. and i call the drought and the sargassum, the chronic ncds of climate. that's the sargassum seaweed. sargassum. which is washing up, it's really smelly and it's all over your.. it is toxic and all over. ironically it allows the sea grass to grow better and the sea urchins. it is not good for the ecosystem and the marine life. it is not good for those who live on the coast or do their business on the coast. you have about 50% of your population is coastal. the average across the caribbean is about 70%. and that is why i have also established a minister of maritime affairs in the economy because our maritime jurisdiction is 424 times the size of our land
and we need to manage both. natural disasters are a big issue for all the caribbean. that's what i was coming to. the chronic ncds are the droughts and the sargassum seaweed and those things that hit us every day, every day. the hurricane is what catches the attention of the bbc because that is a heart attack and it comes at you. but the point i'm making is that we are fighting this daily. this is not something thatjust comes in the middle of summer as do the wildfires in california or as do the floods in europe. we are literally fighting this daily. and, regrettably, the world came together in paris and said we will put some financing together to help people with resilience and adaptation. it has not happened. i am hopeful that the
united kingdom, leading the effort in glasgow, will start to make a difference in terms of access to financing with respect to how we build adaptation and deal with adaptation and resilience in climate. at the same time i am hopeful that many young people will get jobs because there has to be an adjustment of how we build and what we do to prepare ourselves for these new areas of activity that are on the frontline because of the crisis. that is why water is an issue in this country and that is why food security is an issue that has to be resolved in how we settle, how we augment our water supply. i could go on and on. i know you could go on but we haven't got time. thank you for answering the question. just one follow—up. i know you have a lot of advocates and youth advocates and you have health advocates, sorry, you have gender advocates and ijust think it is about time that we as a government and a people and a nation strengthen our climate change advocates. is that a good idea? we have at the high formal levels we have but where we need it now for it to become mass based so that the average young person will feel
that this is a matter that bothers and affects them. it sounds like the prime minister likes your idea. you can have a chat with her later, maybe. put yourself forward and volunteer. final question. good afternoon, prime minister. you mentioned the constitution earlier, so my question is that if the new republic constitution will be amended to include the human right clauses as well as the removal of discriminatory laws, laws that affect people such as the disabled, lgbtq and homeless persons. you've asked a lot of questions there in one. first there will be a new constitution for barbados that will be the product of discussion. it will be a first order of business for a new barbados post november 30 this year. before that we hope to be able, as i said, to settle who we are and what we stand for and the government has already made it clear that a country that has known
what it is to be a victim of discrimination in so many ways cannot perpetuate discrimination in any way. we've already said that whether it is in relation to civil partnership laws that allow people to have access to the rights and protections of the law simply because of who they love. secondly in respect to the issue of other human rights abuses, barbados's constitution covers a lot of it. where there a gaps there will be conversations with the country from st lucy to st philip, because we have a framework of a social partnership that brings together government, brings together labour and private sector, we have a socialjustice committee that this government has established to bring together civil society because we are conscious that we do not only cover for ourselves individually as a government but we govern for a nation and conversation and progress is based on what we can therefore agree upon as a nation. and there are some things
that will be driven by the international agenda, because if we do not do it we will be excluded and some of them will require, therefore, that level of deep conversation as we go forward. that is a good point to end this programme because some people do say the caribbean as a region perhaps is lacking in inclusive rights for certain groups. i'm not so sure and i think the world has to begin to also have some cultural discussions because democracy does not only come in one flavour. you may have universal values but the same way my accent is different from yours and is different from his, the world does admit a a diversity and we have to have sensible and mature conversations that cannot be reduced to 60 second sound bites or headlines and that is what i think the world is missing. that kind of mature discussion and, certainly it does not see small island states, regrettably. you've given us a flavour there of what you have trying to achieve here in barbados. thank you. thank you so much as well. so the honourable prime minister of barbados,
mia mottley. thank you to my audience here. that is all for this edition of global questions — lessons from barbados. it has been my pleasure to be here outside george washington house. we will be back with another edition of global questions from here in barbados and this time we will be focusing on the caribbean and climate change. so until then, from me and the rest of the global questions team, goodbye. hello, hello everyone. i hope you're doing all right. in time for the weekend we are joined by an area of
low pressure which in turn will bring unsettled conditions across much of the uk. heavy, thundery downpours, some of these slow—moving — there's your headline — but we'll see some sunny spells as well. so, you know, it's not a complete write—off as far as that's concerned. so, let's have a look at the big picture. there's the area of low pressure. you can see these weather fronts swirling around it. not only will this introduce those heavy, thundery downpours but also breezy or blustery conditions at times. some heavy rain into parts of wales, the south—west of england, this moves towards the east then. further north it's a scattering of heavy showers. will anywhere avoid these today? well, i wouldn't hold your breath, really. i think eastern sheltered parts more likely to get away with drier, brighter conditions and more of that sunshine. you can see it's a bit breezy or blustery at times. and today's top temperatures, nothing too exciting, between 15 and 20 celsius. now, as we move through towards this evening, those showers will continue, some of these generating a lot of rainfall within a short space of time today. and then through tonight, many of them will tend to lose a bit of their energy and fizzle out. you can see pockets of drier weather developing here
and our lows tonight between 11 and 15 celsius. some cloud bubbling up here or there as well. so, let's return to the pressure chart, there's the low. slowly this is just creeping towards the north so tomorrow, yes, it will bring further unsettled conditions at times, but hopefully we're tipping the balance towards something drier and brighter across many parts. you can see the showers are thinning out across parts of england and wales, these will continue across the north—west. southern, western parts of scotland initially, then moving towards the east. we're seeing these across northern ireland as well. and tomorrow's top temperatures as well, very similar, between about 14, 15 and up to 20 celsius. now, the low pressure will remain with us over the next couple of days so it's notjust influencing our weather across the weekend, it will remain nearby, keeping us company to next week as well, but it is on the move, everyone, and hopefully then we'll
have an area of high pressure building as we head through tuesday and into wednesday. now, that in turn will bring something drier, brighter, temperatures potentially rising a bit in places as well. but we do have some yellow weather warnings in place for thunderstorms today, so do keep across the latest forecast. of course, i'll keep you posted on all the very latest online and on the bbc weather app. stay safe, see you soon.
this is bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the globe. i'm lewis vaughan jones. our top stories: the taliban seizes a provincial capital in southern afghanistan, as the un's envoy demands the militants end their offensive. we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities under taliban attacks and what brutality would await them. another gold medalfor team gb goes to galal yafai, who beat carlo paalam from the philippines in the flyweight boxing. this hour, tom daley is hoping for his second team gb gold, as he takes to the diving board in the men's solo 10m platform. nearly half the regions in greece are on high alert as the worst wildfires in decades rage across the country.