COMPASS project is a much-needed instrument for SIDS, says Secretary-General 

01 December 2023
A group photo of the panel of speakers at the COMPASS event

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, today highlighted the power of innovative financing mechanisms to counter the unique climate challenges of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

During an informal panel discussion at the Commonwealth Pavilion in Dubai, the Secretary-General described the specific pressures faced by countries such as Barbados, Tonga and Maldives:

“Small island developing states face systematic barriers to accessing much-needed climate finance: their small size, their disproportionate exposure to extreme climate-related events and the inefficiency of the global financial systems that should be helping them. 

“Our dedicated partnership with Cambridge University pools resources so that the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable island countries can collectively bid for the climate funding they need. 

“The COMPASS collaboration provides a pathway for countries to strengthen and scale up their climate and development funding, while reducing the risk to investors.” 

The Secretary-General was speaking during a side event held alongside Cambridge University’s Centre for Resilience and Sustainable Development (CRSD) during the 28th UN Climate Change Conference in the UAE.  

COMPASS – the Common Pool Asset Structuring System - provides an institutional mechanism that enables SIDS to pool governance resources to collaboratively develop investable projects, and secure non-debt financing from international markets. It also actively mitigates the multidimensional risks faced by SIDS governments, entrepreneurs, and investors.

At the event, Dr. Nazia Mintz Habib FRSA, Founder and Head of the Centre for Resilience and Sustainable Development, said: 

"We flip the question and try to understand from the perspective of beneficiaries of our research – those beneficiaries are citizens of the Commonwealth. The agenda is not to follow the norm but create the norm that will follow the future."

Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director, Institutional Relations and Partnerships, UNWTO Representative to the UN in Geneva, said: 

"We speak about the common denominator of vulnerability, but we should speak of common denominators in terms of opportunities, people and nature. Technology now has the capability and should be embedded and integrated into the future, into development, finance and humanitarian efforts."

COMPASS was co-developed and created as an outcome of extensive action-research workshops, consultations, and surveys with almost 5,000 Commonwealth citizens, youth activists, political leaders, policymakers, financial experts, ex-Heads of States, retired policymakers, international consultants and global capital market legal experts. 

The discussion was facilitated by Dr Luis Franceschi, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate, Commonwealth Secretariat.   

Learn more about the 'Their Future, Our Action' project
For more information, follow #CommonwealthForClimate or visit our COP28 hub.

Media contact

  • Victoria Holdsworth  Head of CHOGM Media Delivery, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • E-mail