The two years covered here, from July 2013 to June 2015, were a period of transformation for the Commonwealth Secretariat as we worked to translate into practical action our Strategic Plan from 2013/14 to 2016/17. The Plan is a clearly signposted roadmap, following implementation of the most fundamental reforms for a generation, both of the work we do and of the way we do it.
The Commonwealth Secretariat convened two meetings of the Commonwealth Expert Group on Climate Finance. The remit of the Group is to identify ways for small and climate-vulnerable states to access funds that are available to support lowemission and climate-resilient development. The report of the Group prepared by the Secretariat and presented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in November 2013, called for transparency and accountability in processes and procedures for accessing climate funds. The Secretariat took forward the recommendations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change summit in Warsaw in November 2013.
At CHOGM in 2013, leaders welcomed Malta’s offer to establish a Small States Centre of Excellence for democracy and development and a Small States Trade Financing Facility. The initiative considers ways for small states to integrate effectively into the global trading system. The preliminary meeting of the Working Group on the Small States Trade Financing Facility, in Barbados in March 2014, supported by the Secretariat, comprised a group of experts from Singapore to Washington. The Working Group assessed the need for a Commonwealth trade and investment financing facility for small and developing states without access to such resources and the viability of such a facility.
The Secretariat initiated the development of a proposal for a Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub to be considered at the CHOGM in November 2015.
In a practical step to support Small Island Developing States benefit from the blue – or oceans – economy, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretariat, in co-operation with the Governments of Iceland and the Faroe Islands, co-financed a pilot project in The Bahamas and Seychelles. The project builds on work by the Secretariat on the delimitation of national maritime boundaries and strategies for the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources and activities. The outcomes will provide a better understanding of the development opportunities the oceans present to Small Island Developing States and practical ways to assist them to diversify their existing economic base.