Home >Our work >Small States
  • Category 5 storms: A norm or exception?

    Compared to their larger counterparts, small states are at a higher risk of extreme weather events, which threaten to wipe out their developmental gains, and to some extent, their very existence.

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  • Saving Lives, Safeguarding Development

    Thirty one of the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries are small states including some of the most disaster-prone and climate-vulnerable nations in the world.

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  • Target setting for Climate Change

    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.

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Small States

The Commonwealth has a long and respected history of supporting small states. Thirty-one of the fifty-three member countries of the Commonwealth are small states. We work to ensure that international policies, mechanisms and rules are more responsive to small states’ development strategies and resilience needs.

We help Commonwealth small states better access sustainable financing, build resilience, and have a voice in the global stage. We deliver our work through economic research and analysis, and operationalising the ideas through development of Toolkits; convening of member states for consensus building and the formulation of Commonwealth positions in key global policy fora; and advocacy efforts to secure the uptake of Commonwealth ideas in strategic international decision-making bodies.

Small states remain particularly vulnerable to external shocks as a result of their geographic positioning, inherent structural challenges, and deep integration into the global economy. Our work puts a special lens on small states and aims to build resilience and promote inclusive development in these vulnerable economies. We do so by addressing some of small states’ major challenges:

  • Limited global influence
  • Weak technical capacity
  • Limited access to affordable finance
  • Disproportionate impact of natural disasters and climate change

We are helping to build capacity of small states through the Small States Centre of Excellence established in partnership with the Government of Malta, where countries can share their knowledge and experiences as well as access information on how to address these development, financing, and climate challenges.


Consensus building and enhancing recognition of small and vulnerable states’ issues and concerns and advancing Commonwealth positions in international development and financing mechanisms through convening meetings and forums, and engaging in dialogue with key global players.

Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting (CFMM)

Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting on Small States (CMMSS)

Commonwealth Central Bank Governors Meeting (CCBGM)

Global Biennial Conference on Small States (GBCSS)

Annual Commonwealth-Francophonie G20 Dialogue


Promoting and facilitating diaspora investment by identifying ways in which untapped investment demand from diaspora communities can be increased and channelled to productive investments in the Commonwealth. Following the outcome of the Flagship Diaspora Investor Survey, the work programme focuses on the development of a Commonwealth Diaspora Investment Toolkit and other country specific projects.

Addressing de-risking phenomenon that is adversely affecting the ability of many member countries, particularly in the Caribbean and the Pacific regions to take part in the global financial system, through advocacy and facilitating the implementation of solutions through development of a pilot project. 

Establishing debt sustainability principles in the Commonwealth and rolling out a debt sustainability toolkit to help indebted member countries address debt challenges in a sustainable manner. 

Promoting implementation of sustainable development goals (SDG) through development of an SDG Implementation Toolkit (SIT), which will assist countries with mainstreaming SDGs into national planning as well as enhance implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The project is piloted in 13 African small and vulnerable states.  

Advancing recognition of the vulnerabilities of small states, especially small island developing states, through international advocacy initiatives, supported by the refinement of the landmark Commonwealth Vulnerability Index to make it more responsive to the evolving global economic and environmental landscape and vulnerability-resilience nexus. 

Supporting the countries in strengthening their national disaster risk reduction (DRR) practices, fulfilling commitments made to the international Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and mitigating economic losses arising from natural disasters. In the first phase, the programme will prepare a comprehensive DRR Toolkit to provide countries with a one-stop-shop for information on the range of presently available DRR financing mechanisms, including their terms, conditionalities and eligibility criteria. 

Research and publications
  • Small States Bulletin
  • Small State Digests
  • Economics Technical Paper Series
  • Blog
  • Other

We are working with the following organisations to drive our vision forward: