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Caribbean leadership on climate change hailed by incoming Secretary-General

30 March 2016
“Coming together in unity has been one of the strengths of the Caribbean region” – Patricia Scotland QC

Caribbean countries have shown great leadership in “mobilising the world” to act on the threat posed by climate change, the Secretary-General Designate of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, has said.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the 15th Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of the Caribbean region - hosted by Antigua and Barbuda this week - Patricia Scotland QC warned that climate change remains a “real danger” for the region.

“For the Pacific, for the Caribbean, for the small independent developing states in these regions, it’s a matter of life and death,” she said, noting that in her home country of Dominica, Tropical Storm Erika wiped away a year’s economic growth “in just six hours.”

The Secretary-General Designate praised Caribbean leaders for the part they played in achieving the Paris Agreement on climate change last December, noting that it was a “wake-up call” for the world which owed much to their joint resolve – as was borne out in a declaration initiated at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November. “Put simply, the global climate change agreement could not have been done without the work started here in this region,” she told the Presidents and Governors-General in St John’s, Antigua, on 29 March.

During her speech, the Secretary-General Designate also spoke of her pride in having been born to a father from Antigua and a mother from Dominica. “I am extremely proud to come from the Caribbean. I’m extremely proud to be embarking on this new journey as Commonwealth Secretary-General because together we can achieve so much for our region and our world,” she said.

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC will take office as the sixth Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations on 1 April 2016, having been appointed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta last November. She is the first woman and the second person from the Caribbean to occupy the post. She takes over from Kamalesh Sharma, who completes his two four-year terms on 31 March.

Read the speech in full