Small island nations are calling for strengthened global support for ocean and climate change action, just days before Commonwealth leaders convene in Kigali, Rwanda, to decide on the group’s priorities for the next two years.
In sessions later this week, heads of government are expected to discuss issues such as shared climate ambitions, financing climate and ocean action, and rebuilding sustainable green and blue economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other key items on the agenda.
During a breakfast meeting co-hosted today by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Fiji Government in the margins of the summit, High Commissioner Jitoko Tikolevu addressed an audience of mainly envoys from fellow island nations, from Tuvalu to Cyprus to The Bahamas.
“The ocean and climate are inextricably inter-connected and the health of our oceans dictate the livelihoods of millions of people around the world, from the Pacific to the Atlantic… The challenges facing our oceans and its resources are diverse and complex and yet our answer is simple, we need action!” Said the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Fiji Government in the margins of the summit, High Commissioner Jitoko Tikolev.
Mr Tikolevu (pictured top) added that the ocean’s function both as a ‘carbon sink’ and a source for nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation, warrants more acknowledgement in climate negotiations, which focus mainly on reducing carbon emissions.
His remarks were followed by a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean about actions being taken to address ocean and climate change issues, and how the Commonwealth can support.
Head of Oceans and Natural Resources at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, said:
“The harsh reality of climate change is that it affects all sectors of society, and all realms of the planet, including the ocean. The climate crisis is also an ocean crisis. Action Groups under the Commonwealth’s flagship ocean programme, the Blue Charter, are each responding to climate change under their respective themes.” He said.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states. Our combined population is 2.5 billion, of which more than 60 per cent is aged 29 or under.