Photo: Courtesy of Grigory_bruev
The 2021 winners of the United Nations' Champions of the Earth awards, the UN's most prestigious environmental honor, have been announced. Out of a record number of worldwide nominations, Barbados' prime minister Mia Mottley is one of four winners. Victors are individuals, groups, or organizations whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment (unep.org). Winners are selected in four categories: Inspiration and Action, Policy Leadership, Entrepreneurial Vision, and Science and Innovation. "Mottley was honored in the Policy Leadership category for her 'powerful voice' for a sustainable world coming from the global south, consistently raising the alarm about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States" (thecaribbeannewsnow.com).
Mottley tirelessly works to safeguard her country, as well as all Caribbean nations, and has spent years campaigning against pollution, climate change, and deforestation--turning Barbados into a frontrunner in the global environmental movement (unep.org). According to Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), "Prime Minister Mottley has been a champion for those who are most vulnerable to the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution and waste. Her passionate advocacy and policy achievements are prime examples of how world leaders can take bold, urgent action on environmental issues" (unep.org).
Under Mottley's guidance, Barbados has developed an ambitious plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2030. Her vision is for nearly every home on the island to have solar panels on the roof and an electric vehicle out front (unep.org). She has also overseen a national strategy to plant more than 1 million trees to foster food security and build resilience to a changing climate (unep.org).
To further help Barbados adapt to the climate crisis, Mottley has spearheaded a national resilience program called Roofs to Reefs. This initiative focuses on everything from reinforcing homes to restoring coral reefs, which help protect coastlines from storms (unep.org). Ultimately, “Mottley believes that tackling environmental decline is vital to spurring economic development and combating poverty" (unep.org).