2nd Meeting of the Small States Advocacy Champions addresses debt vulnerabilities and sustainable development

17 April 2024
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The 2nd Meeting of the Commonwealth Small States Advocacy Champions convened today in Washington DC on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Spring meetings.

Chaired by Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology, St Vincent and the Grenadines and attended by prominent ministers and high-level officials, the meeting addressed pressing issues surrounding debt vulnerabilities and sustainable development strategies for small states.

In his opening remarks, Minister Gonsalves emphasised the urgent need for sustainable solutions to combat escalating debt levels, which continue to hinder economic stability and development across small states.

"We witness the plight of small states exacerbated by climate shocks, the effects of ongoing geo-political tensions and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To prevent a debt cycle that threatens economic stability and development, we need to bring together essential measures such as international cooperation, mobilise domestic resources and private capital, and as a last resort, ensure debt restructuring mechanisms are fit-for-purpose," he said.

The Commonwealth Small States Advocacy Champions initiative, unveiled during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali in 2022, has emerged as a pivotal platform for collective action and advocacy in response to the vulnerabilities faced by small states. Today’s gathering marked a significant step in advancing the joint UN-Commonwealth Advocacy Strategy Towards Achieving the SDGs, which guides the advocacy champions' work.

Ministers engaged in critical discussions centred around themes such as spending pressures, innovative debt restructuring instruments, inclusive debt relief initiatives, and the consideration of climate vulnerability in debt sustainability analyses.

The meeting aimed to generate action-oriented outcomes that would contribute to ongoing high-level events, including the upcoming UN SIDS4 Conference this May and the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting of Small States taking place during CHOGM in Samoa this October 2024. As small states navigate through multifaceted challenges, the Advocacy Champions reaffirmed their commitment to advocating for tailored solutions and shaping global decision-making processes to benefit small states.

The 2nd Meeting of the Small States Advocacy Champions signalled a resolute effort to accelerate progress towards sustainable development, resilience-building, and debt management strategies in small states.

As the Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC is in Cyprus for the Commonwealth Ocean Ministerial Meeting, she could not attend today’s meeting in person; she sent her support and encouragement via video message, stating:

"During this CHOGM year, our effort to help Commonwealth small states build a resilient common future will continue to intensify.

"Together, we will forge new partnerships and mobilise action to address their susceptibility to external shocks, we will unlock more vital resources through our successful climate finance access hub, we will support small states in managing sovereign debt and we will never tire of advocating for radical reform of the global financial architecture, based on the principles of our Universal Vulnerability Index and its synergies with the UN’s MVI."

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The current Small States Advocacy Champions include:

  • Hon Pat Conroy MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Australia
  • Hon Peggy Serame, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Botswana
  • Hon Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development, Canada
  • Dr Tambo Gina, Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Eswatini
  • Dr Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of Republic of The Gambia, The Gambia
  • Hon. Hugh H Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Guyana
  • H.E. Mr Flavien Joubert, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Seychelles
  • Hon Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology, St Vincent and Grenadines
  • Hon. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tonga
  • Hon Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development, Trinidad & Tobago
  • Rt. Hon. Mr Andrew Mitchell MP, Minister of State for Development, United Kingdom

Fiji, Maldives, Samoa and New Zealand are currently in the process of nominating ministers.

Watch the Commonwealth Secretary-General's opening remarks

Media contact

  • Rena Gashumba  Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7483 919 968  |  E-mail