Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for urgent climate action on Earth Day
By Josephine Latu-Sanft, Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
The Commonwealth Secretary-General (SG) Patricia Scotland Queens Counsel (QC) has called for countries to ramp up action to urgently address key challenges linked to climate change, ocean, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Dr. Scotland reiterated that a connection between planet and people has never been starker than now, as witnessed by increasing evidence of how human actions and habits impact Earth’s life support systems so profoundly, whether on land, in the ocean or in the atmosphere.
“Every country within our Commonwealth family of nations has been adversely affected by the climate crisis but our small and other vulnerable nations are most at risk, with many already feeling the brunt of impacts as we speak.
Alluding to a counsel she gave at Conference of Parties (COP26), Dr. Scotland implored global community to collectively act boldly to protect the only planet on which lives and livelihoods across the Commonwealth literally depend.
“Climate change and ocean action is a central priority for me as Secretary-General. And as we look towards the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda from 20 to 25 June, 2022, climate and ocean action will be prioritised on the leaders’ agenda,” said Dr. Scotland.
The will take place in. Among the key items for decision will be the adoption of the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, which seeks to coordinate implementation of objectives agreed under the three Rio Conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification through sustainable land management and nature-based solutions. Also up for discussion will be an Action Fund to support ocean-focussed efforts of countries under the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
These initiatives follow on other flagship programmes supporting the environment, including the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which helps small and other vulnerable countries access vital resources for climate adaptation and mitigation; the Commonwealth Blue Charter, an agreement by all 54 member countries to cooperatively address pressing ocean challenges; and the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Agenda, which seeks to fast-track an inclusive, just and equitable transition to low-carbon energy systems across the group.
“Since Commonwealth leaders issued the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment in 1989, through to COP26 in Glasgow, we have remained committed to fostering a sustainable and climate resilient planet for all humanity. This important legacy continues through our programmes and our advocacy, designed to serve the 2.5 billion people who call the Commonwealth home, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30,” said Dr. Scotland.
The Commonwealth comprising advanced economies and developing countries is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states with a combined population of 2.5 billion, of which more than 60 per cent of her citizens are 29 years of age and below.
Thirty-two members are small states, and many are island nations as the Commonwealth Secretariat supports build democratic and inclusive institutions, strengthen governance and promote justice and human rights.
The Commonwealth Secretariat work helps to grow economies and boost trade, deliver national resilience, empower young people, and address threats such as climate change, debt and inequality supported by a network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil society, cultural and professional organisations.