In Washington, the Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for more action to help small and vulnerable states

26 October 2022
Commonwealth Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, speaking at the 2022 Small States Forum

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has welcomed the recently-launched Resilience and Sustainable Facility (RSF) - the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) financing facility aimed at helping low-income and vulnerable middle-income countries build resilience to economic shocks – but said that more work must be done to improve eligibility, requirements, and conditions in accessing this facility for small and vulnerable states.

The Secretary-General was speaking at the 2022 Small States Forum on 15 October, which was held on the margins of the World Bank – IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC.

The Forum brought together Finance  Ministers, Development Planning Ministers and Central Bank Governors from small states and provided a platform for delegates to exchange views and experiences, discuss the challenges that small states face on the economic front heightened by the effects of the COVID-19 and geopolitical tensions, and encourage a consensus on the way forward to build resilience and sustainable growth.

‘We cannot ignore the needs of the most vulnerable’

The Commonwealth has a unique position with respect to small states – 32 of the world’s small states are Commonwealth members. They face unique challenges as they adapt to the demands of an increasingly challenging global economy and the Commonwealth Secretariat, which has been at the forefront of championing the interests of small and vulnerable states for more than 30 years, campaigns internationally for special attention to the unique development challenges they face.

In her intervention during the Forum, the Commonwealth Secretary-General recognised that the world is at a critical moment due to overlapping and interlinked crises, including the impact of climate change, post-COVID-19 recovery, inflation, debt, food insecurity,  and the cost-of-living crisis, all of which affect small states the most.

Calling on world leaders to work together to address the major global challenges small states face, the Secretary-General said:

“The majority of this Forum’s members are Commonwealth members.

“We all know that no single country, least of all Small States, can face these global challenges alone.

“We must stand together and work together – and we must ensure that the needs of Small and Vulnerable States are placed at the heart of global decision-making.”

Referring to the IMF’s recently launched Resilience and Sustainable Facility (RSF), the Secretary-General commended its specific regard to vulnerability and the need to build resilience. She however urged that going forward, more work must be done to improve eligibility, requirements, and conditions in accessing RSF financing.

She further urged international financial institutions to consider the Commonwealth’s work in developing its Universal Vulnerability Index, as well as the UN’s Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, and to work together to reach a consensus on the definition and measurement of vulnerability.

“A comprehensive new consensus on the measurement of vulnerability would be a historic breakthrough, paving the way not only for a realistic metric to determine access to essential finance but for the just, fair, safe, secure and sustainable future we all strive for,” she concluded.

The Small States Forum marked the conclusion of the Secretary-General’s week-long visit to Washington DC, which saw her convene Commonwealth Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss emerging economic challenges facing the global economy and Commonwealth countries, under the theme ‘A Road to Economic Recovery: A Macroeconomic Perspective’.

Throughout her visit, the Secretary-General held a series of bilateral meetings with senior officials of international organisations, ministers from the Samoan, Seychelles, Rwanda and Bhutan (as Chair of the Small States Forum), as well as senior representatives from the World Bank and IMF, to discuss the Commonwealth’s most pressing issues, priorities, and identify avenues to expand mutually beneficial collaborations.

Learn more about our work in supporting small states 

Media contact

  • Angela Kolongo Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • T: +44 7587 881503  |  E-mail