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Law Ministers encouraged to prepare for climate change

5 October 2018

Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has recommended that small member countries put legal measures in place to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Secretary-General Scotland was speaking at a meeting of Law Ministers and Attorneys General of small Commonwealth jurisdictions, which was held in London.

She told the gathering that Commonwealth small states cannot escape the effects of climate change.  Many of them are particularly vulnerable due to rising sea levels.

"When visiting affected countries, I have witnessed the devastation and chaos caused by natural disasters, and have become very conscious of how the law can be a vital factor in reducing vulnerability, mobilising response and coping with recovery and rebuilding”, she said.

The theme of the meeting was Increasing Resilience Through Law Reform.  It brought attorneys general and ministers together from 20 countries

The event is now in its 35th year.  It is a platform for small countries of the Commonwealth to benefit from mutual support and exchange of best practice.

Secretary-General Scotland said, “Many of you come, as I do, from small islands, where the ocean is part of our lives-almost part of us. It is central to the lives and livelihoods of countless communities across the Commonwealth.”

She also expressed concerns about the flow of illicit firearms, the consequences of which she said, should not be underestimated.

“Four Commonwealth member countries in the Caribbean are among the ten states with the highest rates of violence from firearms in the world,” she revealed.  Secretary-General Scotland urged ministers to make small jurisdictions’ voices heard and their achievements known.

She said, “This gathering is a splendid opportunity to remind ourselves and others of those assets of resourcefulness and inventiveness, and also to build ever more closely together through cooperation and collaboration.”