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Small states

Promoting policies responsive to the concerns of small states

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.

Commonwealth Secretariat outcomes: Small states

  • Convened the Third Global Biennial Conference on Small States, March 2014
  • Presented concrete proposals for the development of small island states at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, September 2014
  • Established an Open-ended Ministerial Working Group on the priority development concerns of small states
  • Published a study with the World Bank on Tourism and Inclusive Growth in Small Island Developing States

The Secretariat supported an Open-ended Ministerial Working Group on Small States to review priority development concerns for Commonwealth advocacy. Support from the Secretariat for dialogues on development in small island states led to concrete Commonwealth proposals presented at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2014.

The Secretariat helped small states to identify their concerns on financing for development ahead of the UN conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015. The Secretariat hosted the Commonwealth Conference on Financing for Development in Small States in Barbados in March 2015 to suggest practical solutions to the challenges facing small states in accessing funding for development. The Barbados conference brought together senior officials from ministries of finance and representatives from national, regional and international organisations – including UN agencies

International policies, mechanisms and rules responsive to the development strategies of small states

The Commonwealth Secretariat identified and proposed responses to the challenges that face small states, advocating for international policies and mechanisms to strengthen resilience and lessen vulnerability. The Secretariat brought the concerns of Commonwealth small states to international processes through statements by the Secretary-General, such as to the High Level Segment of the UN Human Rights Council 25th Regular Session, in Geneva.

Building resilience in Small Island Developing States

In March 2014, the Commonwealth Secretariat convened the Third Global Biennial Conference on Small States. The conference, hosted by Saint Lucia, reviewed priorities for small states in preparation for the UN Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in September 2014 in Samoa and in the context of building resilience goals into the Post-2015 Development Framework.

The Saint Lucia conference drew attention to the synergies between the resilience frameworks developed by the Secretariat and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and led to agreement to collaborate to take the Vulnerability Resilience Framework forward. The collaboration is an important step towards international recognition and adoption of ‘vulnerability’ as a criteria and ‘resilience building’ as a pre-condition for development finance.

The Secretariat supported the attendance of two youth leaders at the conference. In a keynote address at the conference Youth Forum, the Secretariat advocated for young people to be included in making decisions about climate change.

The conference resulted in Commonwealth consensus on:

  • Strengthening resilience, as an overarching framework for development of small states
  • Using vulnerability criteria for providing development financing and preferential trading terms
  • Ocean governance frameworks
  • Capacity-building and energy issues relating to climate change and ways to create synergies with development priorities
  • Links with the G20 and regional organisations, and strengthening regional organisations

In September 2014, the Secretariat collaborated with governments and international organisations in the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa, with the aim of securing a sustainable future for these countries. It launched Building the Resilience of Small States: A Revised Framework at this meeting.