Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma met with Saint Lucia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Alva Baptiste, on 19 December 2011 at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in London.
The two discussed the mandates agreed by Commonwealth Heads of Government at the meeting in Perth, Australia, in October 2011, and those areas where the Commonwealth can add value and build strategic partnerships, particularly in assisting small and vulnerable states with the challenges they face in areas such as climate change and trade.
They also examined the Commonwealth’s work to develop schemes to help countries recovering from natural disasters; and boys’ underachievement and its effects on communities.
Mr Sharma set out the Commonwealth’s approach to youth enterprise work, which includes encouraging commercial banks to work with other partners to provide financing, mentorship and training for young entrepreneurs to nurture business success. Mr Baptiste said he was attracted by the possibility of working with the Commonwealth to find ways of getting banks to play a greater role in the social development of Saint Lucia.
Mr Sharma also highlighted the opportunities offered by the Commonwealth’s Small States Office in Geneva, which provides a permanent base and technical assistance from resident experts for small states delegations visiting organisations in the multilateral hub of Geneva. He set out aspects of the Commonwealth’s work in championing the development needs of small and middle-income states at meetings such as those of the G20 and at the World Trade Organization.
Mr Baptiste expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” to the Commonwealth for sending a Commonwealth Election Assessment Team to conduct an analysis of the general conduct and framework of the recent Saint Lucia general elections, which took place on 28 November, following an invitation from the former Prime Minister, Stephenson King.
He added that through his meeting with Mr Sharma he had developed a better understanding of the perspective of the Commonwealth, and its vision to create real opportunities and hope.