Leaders from across the Commonwealth have convened to discuss actions plans to mitigate the effects of climate change and enhance the use of technology to improve livelihoods.
The plenaries took place during the 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF 2022) in Kigali, Rwanda alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Participants deliberated during the various sessions of the day, urging members of the Commonwealth to take action through policy recommendations and advocacy, and ensuring governments are ready to tackle some of the current and looming crises.
Opening the day’s first plenary session, Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Rebecca Kadaga, stressed the need for redesigning global value chains for a post-COVID world.
“The pandemic illuminated pre-existing underlying fragilities of global value chains, strengthening the demand for more localised resilient and agile value chains to manufacture products customised to local needs,” she said.
Kadaga set the scene for two panels that focused on ecosystem enablers for redesigning value chains in sectors like agriculture, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on manufacturing and how to manage future disruptions.
Later during the day, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Michael Holness, addressed participants of the forum on the need to bridge the digital divide within the Commonwealth.
“I believe now that we have not just the technology to make lives better, but we have the understanding of governance and equity. One of the priorities of the Commonwealth must be to promote and accelerate the digital development of all members particularly in areas of governance and regulation,” he noted.
The following session saw the Prime Ministers of Bahamas and Antigua and Barbuda – Philip Davis and Gaston Browne respectively – delivering a plenary to advocate for a more sustainable planet through more cohesive partnerships between governments across the Commonwealth.
The ministers highlighted how small states, Least Developed Countries and other vulnerable countries face acute impacts of climate change in a disproportionate way compared to more industrialised countries.
“The negative impact of climate change remains the most fundamental existential threat, but that threat is not evenly spread. Those of us least responsible for the carbon emissions which drive climate change are suffering from the gravest negative impacts,” Davis explained.
Alongside CBF, climate negotiators and experts from India, Saint Lucia, and Rwanda convened at the Commonwealth People’s Forum – the largest gathering of civil society in the Commonwealth – to discuss how action plans to deliver climate justice new agreements in the lead up to COP27.
This was the first time civil society in the Commonwealth has convened in four years owing to the pandemic.