The Secretary-General has expressed solidarity with the people of The Bahamas in a visit to the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama which were hit by Hurricane Dorian last month.
Speaking to journalists, Patricia Scotland described the scenes as looking like a “war zone” and vowed to help Caribbean countries prevent and tackle the terrible effects of climate change.
She said: "We are able to see the distressing reality of what Hurricane Dorian did to this community - a vibrant, lively and life-loving community - which had so much to look forward to.
“We have spoken for so long about the existential threat this climate crisis presents to small vulnerable island states and to the least developed.
“This is the evidence as to the utter devastation which is produced…This is a moment where the world needs to stop and understand that change has to happen and it has to happen now.”
The Secretary-General visited Abaco with Foreign Affairs Minister, Darren Henfield, before meeting with residents, volunteers and government workers leading relief efforts on the ground.
She then met other members of parliament before discussing the disaster with Prime Minister, Hurbert Minnis.
He thanked the secretary-general for “keeping The Bahamas in the headlines" before adding: “We have to cool down the waters of the earth because climate change is impacting negatively upon countries like The Bahamas.
“We are also a resilient people. We will rebuild back stronger.”
During her time in The Bahamas the Secretary-General Scotland spoke extensively about Commonwealth initiatives designed to help member states in their fight against climate change including the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance Portal, the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the recently launched Common Earth programme.
The hub provides additional expertise on which member countries can draw to navigate procedures and make successful applications to the international funds that have been established to combat and cope with climate change.
As a web-based platform collating information from a range of sources, the Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance Portal also helps capacity-constrained governments to gain access to funding, and to identify those most suited to their particular needs.
Common Earth is a Commonwealth Secretariat partnership programme focussing on regenerative models of development as a means of building resilience to climate change and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Commonwealth member nations are responsible for more than one-third of all marine waters in national jurisdictions, and through the Commonwealth Blue Charter they commit to taking collective action to improve ocean health and use marine resources in ways which are sustainable. Working in clusters, groups of nations are leading on areas of particular priority.
The Secretary-General said: “The Commonwealth has long made climate action a priority and the range and diversity of our membership means we look at solutions with an exceptionally wide range of perspectives and practical understanding. Every time a member country is affected, the urgency and resolve with which we need to mobilise our Commonwealth responses of adaptation and mitigation is borne in afresh on our collective consciousness.”