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Commonwealth and small states call for action on climate change

25 October 2011
Foreign ministers meeting in Perth ahead of CHOGM 2011 say urgent funding needed

Foreign ministers from Commonwealth and developing small states met in Perth, Australia, on 25 October 2011 and called on the international community to provide urgent funds needed to deal with the effects of climate change on their economies.

Ministers pointed out that while small states contribute the least in carbon emissions, they are bearing the brunt of the negative effects.

“We have contributed less to climate change, but we suffer the most," said the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi. "The commitments which the international community has made to provide funds to enable us to adapt to and to mitigate climate change should be met now. As small states, we need to speak with one voice and say that we are all one in this and that action must be taken.”

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who chaired the meeting, said: “Many of the small states who contribute practically nothing, yet feel the impact of climate change big time, often have no voice in the big meetings where decisions are made. That is why we must take action, and take it now. We (Australia) and the other Commonwealth countries in the G20 are offering to provide that voice on their (small states') behalf.”

Speaking at the same meeting, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the Commonwealth has always recognised the vulnerability of small states and for the international community to pay special attention to their development concerns.

Mr Sharma noted that small states are an integral part of the Commonwealth, with 52 per cent of the countries classified by the United Nations as Small Island Developing States, being in the Commonwealth.

The Secretary-General stressed that issues facing small states are a central preoccupation of the association.

“The Commonwealth is currently implementing a number of projects aimed at enabling small states to build economic resilience and enhance their competitiveness, as well as benefiting from the opportunities presented to help them cope with challenges posed by globalisation,” said the Secretary-General.

"The Commonwealth Secretariat has developed a vulnerability and resilience profiling framework to enable small states to assess their economic resilience, identify gaps within their policy framework and implement projects that will fill these gaps. This framework will serve the country best in addressing its vulnerabilities when principal sources of vulnerability and the effects of exogenous shocks have been identified."