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Secretary-General opens conference on Regenerative Development with call to action

18 May 2017

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed high commissioners and climate change innovators to Marlborough House today and called on them to work together on technologies and approaches that have the potential to reverse climate change.

In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General noted that climate change can wreak havoc on ecosystems and societies, impeding realisation of the 2030 sustainable development goals.  Some of the Commonwealth’s small island developing states face obliteration because of rising sea levels.  In other countries, climate change is causing famine, migration and desertification. 

“Time and time again in Commonwealth countries, including Dominica, Fiji, Vanuatu and more recently Mozambique – we have seen how climate-related disasters can in minutes undo decades of development gains,” she stated.  That is why Secretary-General Scotland is encouraging a new approach to tackling the problem.

“The magnitude of the threat from climate change, especially for those whose endowment or stage of development renders them more vulnerable and less resilient, make it incumbent upon us to shift from mere adaptation and mitigation towards approaches capable of transforming climate change into a window of opportunity,” she told delegates to the conference.  “Regenerative development offers ways of tackling climate change on a scale and by means that can be adopted by the most vulnerable countries, and are appropriate to the day-to-day lives and livelihoods of their inhabitants.”

Experts on regenerative development will discuss new technologies and mechanisms that have the potential to sequestrate carbon in substantial quantities, while at the same time boosting food production and providing raw materials for industry.

The purpose of the conference is to bring these visionaries together with policy-makers in order to create awareness of regenerative development, build political support for it, influence public discourse on climate change and, perhaps most importantly, build a business case for adopting the new approaches in climate-vulnerable countries.

The Secretary-General called on all delegates to take action immediately and promised that the Commonwealth would have a programme on regenerative development in place by April 2018, when the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting takes place in London.

Read the full text of her speech.