Globally, the number of climate disasters has tripled since 1980, while, hot weather in 2016 broke the historic record set in 2015. Climate change threatens all nations and peoples regardless of their location or economy. The Commonwealth represents 53 countries many of these are least developed; small or most vulnerable to climate change.
The Commonwealth has long been on the frontline in supporting its small member states through global advocacy on policy level. From the Commonwealth Langkawi Declaration on the Environment in 1989 to the 2015 climate commitment by leaders in Malta, it has intervened to strengthen the voice of small states and unite its members to address this existential threat.
Malta has won the inaugural Commonwealth Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation, with Namibia and the Bahamas also scooping prizes.
A Commonwealth initiative designed to help small and other vulnerable states access international finances for tackling the effects of climate change, is poised to go global. The proposal to scale the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub from 10 to 39 developing small states and other vulnerable countries was approved at the Commonwealth Symposium on Climate Finance held in Malta.
Samoa faced huge flooding in 2018 after torrential rain fell overnight, leaving a trail of destruction, 330 people evacuated and $10 million of infrastructural damage. The lessons learned from this experience made Samoa a suitable location to host the fifth Commonwealth Global Biennial Conference on Small States under the theme ‘Building Resilience Through Disaster Risk Reduction’. The conference brought together officials from 23 small states and 20 development agencies to discuss disaster risk financing solutions.