Commonwealth-NVIDIA partners leverage artificial intelligence for climate action and youth empowerment

30 November 2023
Press release
The Panel on the Leveraging AI for Climate Action and Youth Empowerment event

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, today convened a high-level panel on the margins of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change COP28 in Dubai on Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Climate Action and Youth Empowerment.

It was attended by representatives from Commonwealth member countries, international organisations, women and youth groups, large tech companies, start-ups, and non-governmental organisations.  

The partnership is a collaboration between the Commonwealth Secretariat, NVIDIA, UC Berkeley, and and is part of the ongoing implementation work of the Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium (CAIC), launched in April 2023.

The CAIC aims to build the domestic AI capacity of small states and enable them to benefit from global innovations from cloud computing to generative AI, strengthen the resilience of local infrastructure and supply chains, mitigate the impact of climate change, upskill workforces, and advance economic growth.  

The collaboration was welcomed as a bold step in creating awareness about the critical intersection of youth engagement and climate action facilitated by AI technology. Participants also committed to building on new and existing collaborations with the Commonwealth that empower young people to develop digital skills and leverage AI for climate action, particularly in small states.    

AI Consortium Partnership

Opening the event at the Commonwealth Pavilion, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:

"AI has the potential to transform our world for the better, but only if it's harnessed responsibly and ethically. While we celebrate the benefits of AI, we must also be cognizant of the digital divide that exists between and within countries to adopt and harness this technology within the entire AI ecosystem.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, with partners at the Leveraging AI for Climate Action and Youth Empowerment event at COP28
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, with the Executive Director of Garwood Centre for Corporate Innovation and Head of the School of Business, UC Berkeley, Prof. Solomon Darwin, and Shilpa Kolhatkar, Global Head of AI Nations at NVIDIA.

She continued: 

"In all my engagements, I have informed people that AI is not just a technological spectacle; it is a tool that can enable us to tackle global challenges aggressively. As we convene here, COP 28 is ongoing, and the issue of climate change looms large. AI can play a pivotal role in addressing climate change, enhancing our ability to monitor, model, and mitigate its effects. It is a powerful ally in our pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a catalyst for economic growth."

In a keynote address, the Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon Siaosi Hu’akavameiliku, said:

“As with any global trend, there are risks and challenges involved. Small states of the Commonwealth must be astute and strategic as we navigate this new field.

The digital divide between high and low-income member countries remains significant, which could be exacerbated by the rise of AI. We must therefore work together to efficiently close the data and skills gaps.”

To underscore the critical role of AI in climate action, technology leader NVIDIA and geospatial company Remote Sensing and Satellite Hydrology (RSS-Hydro), demonstrated the ethical and practical use of AI applications like 'Omniverse' dedicated to monitoring and visualising the sea level rise in Tonga over time. From a macroeconomic perspective, such information is critical for economic and infrastructure planning in all small states.

The Prime Minister of Tonga speaking at the Commonwealth Pavilion
The Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon Siaosi Hu’akavameiliku, delivered a keynote address at the event.

UC Berkeley also presented the Smart Village Toolkit, powered by AI, in collaboration with It demonstrated the use of artificial intelligence to improve the livelihoods of rural villages and communities and provides practical opportunities for about 3.4 billion citizens globally who live in such areas.

During the presentation, the Executive Director of Garwood Centre for Corporate Innovation and Head of the School of Business, UC Berkeley, Prof. Solomon Darwin, said:  

"Leveraging AI for climate action requires global awareness and networks to generate social capital for restoring the declining balance sheet of the Earth. To further this effort, our students at Berkeley are working with the Commonwealth of Nations to develop an altruistic, non-commercial digital AI tool that creates awareness with no learning curve, displays a picture ofour deteriorating planet at a glance, is simple to understand, lists the key assets of the Earth that sustain life and promotes the well-being of the planet."  

Showcasing the Power of AI Climate Solutions 

Speakers emphasised the need to leverage AI technology and digitally empower youths in small states like Tonga to take informed action and move towards a more sustainable and climate-resilient future. Head of Climate Change, Unnikrishnan Nair, Commonwealth Secretariat said: 

"AI's transformative role in climate action, particularly within the implementation of the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, goes beyond being a tool; it stands as a visionary concept accelerating our understanding, empowering targeted interventions, and propelling us toward enhanced resilience for the well-being of our planet through sustainable land and biodiversity management." 

Commenting on the issue of access and engagement, the CEO and Founder at, Sabin Dima, also stressed the importance of giving a voice to vulnerable groups by empowering them with innovative tools that can provide updated information and offer solutions in real-time.  

Similarly, the youth representative, Aman Vernekar, an engineering student, and President of the Cambridge Climate Society, stressed the need to equip young people with the right tools to drive climate action, particularly in a field like AI where local context and data are critical.  

Participants underlined the significance of further collaboration with young people in the ongoing work to achieve a more sustainable and climate-resilient future propelled by AI. 

Watch the presentation on AI/ML: Omniverse for sea level rise depiction for Tonga
For more information, follow #CommonwealthForClimate or visit our COP28 hub.

    Media contact

    • Ijeoma Onyeator  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

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