Suva, FIJI – July 18, 2022: 1.15pm (COMSEC): The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth,Patricia Scotland, has applauded the adoption of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent at the 51st Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting last week in Fiji.
The 2050 Strategy outlines the long-term vision for the region as well as steps to achieve it. It focuses on seven thematic areas: political leadership and regionalism, resources and economic development, climate change, ocean and natural environment, technology and connectivity, people-centred development and peace and security.
During a press briefing with members of regional and international media in Suva, the Secretary-General said:
“I commend the Pacific Islands Forum, in particular for the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, which is being brought forward this week. This overarching strategic document will allow us as partners to better-align our work to support our Pacific members and bolster regional efforts to address the multiple global challenges we all face.”
She noted that many of the Commonwealth’s flagship initiatives already align with the Strategy, such as the Commonwealth Blue Charter for ocean action, the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, and the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda, which aims to boost intra-Commonwealth trade to US$2 trillion by 2030.
During the week, the Secretary-General had the opportunity to meet with various leaders of Pacific nations, including Kiribati over telephone.
She underscored the importance of the Pacific region to the Commonwealth family and the positive relationship enjoyed between the Commonwealth Secretariat and regional entities.
“We face overlapping, interlinked, accelerating crises… and as you know, the Pacific is particularly exposed to exogenous shocks. These shocks are more frequent and forceful because of climate change. The climate crisis is real. Here in the Pacific, we see it, feel it, and live it. As the IPCC has said, we are at Code Red for humanity, and the window for action is rapidly closing. The Commonwealth is totally committed to the Pacific, and to tackling these challenges together.”
The Secretary-General also referred to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that took place last month in Kigali, Rwanda, and highlighted new initiatives that would benefit the region.
These included the:
*Launch of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Project Incubator to support ocean states develop and scale-up projects which protect the marine environment while also tackling climate change. This is supported by an initial contribution of GBP£400,000 (US$475,000) from the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, with more expected in the coming year.
*Adoption of the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A Call to Action on Living Land, committing all 56 member countries to safeguarding global land resources while taking coordinated action on climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable land management.
*Launch of the Commonwealth Toolkit to Enhance Access to Climate Finance, building on the work of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which supports small and other vulnerable states in accessing funding for climate projects. To date, the Hub has helped countries to secure around US$50 million in climate finance (including around US$4 million in the Pacific region), with a robust project pipeline worth more than US$762 million.
*Launch of the Commonwealth Virtual Centre for Small States, a tailor-made platform which connects Commonwealth Small States Offices in New York, Geneva and the Commonwealth Secretariat, and endorsed a joint UN-Commonwealth Small States Advocacy Strategy.
The Secretary-General confirmed that Samoa will host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2024 and will be the first Pacific small island nation to do so.