Globally, the number of climate disasters has tripled since 1980, while, hot weather in 2016 broke the historic record set in 2015. Climate change threatens all nations and peoples regardless of their location or economy. The Commonwealth represents 53 countries many of these are least developed; small or most vulnerable to climate change.
The Commonwealth has long been on the frontline in supporting its small member states through global advocacy on policy level. From the Commonwealth Langkawi Declaration on the Environment in 1989 to the 2015 climate commitment by leaders in Malta, it has intervened to strengthen the voice of small states and unite its members to address this existential threat.
Blog by Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth: The frightening reality of Pacific island nations disappearing into the ocean could also become a real worry for western metropolises. Only with a truly inclusive and worldwide effort, with every nation, government and community on board can we win the battle.
The Pacific is the Commonwealth region most vulnerable to climate change. It faces intense variations in temperatures, extreme storms, rising sea levels, and is also highly vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, tidal surges, landslides, droughts, forest fires, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
Five months ago, Cyclone Idai ripped through the Southern African region, causing a massive humanitarian disaster that affected three million people. More than a thousand perished, while 200,000 lost their homes, many of whom are still to this day living in refugee camps.
International organisations must partner-up to avoid duplication and integrate efforts that assist member countries, says the Commonwealth’s head of economic policy and small states.
Commonwealth countries have been encouraged to ratify and implement the 1954 Hague Convention, which protects cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. Of 53 Commonwealth member countries, 20 have ratified the Convention, which commits countries to take measures to safeguard immovable and movable cultural property - such as buildings, monuments, artefacts and artwork - when conflict strikes.