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Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland speaking to the panel

Integrating women into development policy is vital for sustainable development and post-Covid recovery

20 May 2021

At a newly-formed Global SIDS Leadership (GSL) Group in Brussels this month, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland urged the international and bilateral donor community to address the impact of climate change on women and young girls in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Cotonou Agreement

Secretary-General Scotland was one of the high-level speakers invited to address the first session of the GSL, a group dedicated to addressing the implications of the Cotonou Agreement. The revised Cotonou Agreement, recently ratified between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP countries), focuses on six broad areas:

  1. human rights, democracy and governance;
  2. security;
  3. human and social development;
  4. environmental sustainability and climate change;
  5. sustainable growth;
  6. migration and mobility.

Commonwealth Universal Vulnerability Index

In her speech, the Secretary-General stressed the need to support the Commonwealth Universal Vulnerability Index, which is designed to quantify vulnerability, allowing development agencies to identify vulnerable states in need of immediate assistance.

Secretary-General Scotland said: “This multidimensional, inclusive index seeks to take into account the structural and non-structural aspects of vulnerability, better responding to the needs of SIDS. The index is used as an operational tool in determining whether small states should be accorded differential treatment by the international community. It is intended as an additional criterion to augment other factors, such as per capita GDP, which makes many SIDS ineligible for ODA funding”. 

Panel speakers

St. Kitts and Nevis’ Ambassador to UNESCO based in Paris, Dr David P. Doyle, collaborated with Ambassador Jean-Paul Carteron of the Solomon Islands in instigating the GSL. Other high-level speakers on the panel included:

  • The Hon. Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. Timothy Harris,
  • Mr. Louis Sylvestre Radegonde,  Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Seychelles
  • Mr. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

Opportunity to integrating women

During the panel, Secretary-General Scotland welcomed the revised Cotonou Agreement as an opportunity to integrate women into the policy development and delivery of a re-energised social, economic and inclusive SIDS development strategy.

Unlocking the green investment initiatives inscribed in the Cotonou deal was also a priority, as well as supporting sustainable energy.

Watch the recording of the high-level event