A series of high-level ministerial meetings will bring together representatives from all Commonwealth member countries to exchange views and discuss joint strategies around governance, sustainable development and climate issues, in the margins of the High-Level week of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General arrives in New York this weekend, following on from the successful 10th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM) held in London, which brought together Government ministers, senior government officials, Accredited Organisations, education stakeholders and young leaders from across the Commonwealth to agree on policies and initiatives aimed at supporting and empowering young people across 56 member states.
In the margins of UNGA, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) will meet to discuss critical political developments across the Commonwealth, relating to democracy, the rule of law, good governance and other fundamental principles embedded in the Commonwealth Charter. The CMAG, established by Heads of Government to act as the custodian of the Commonwealth’s political values, will be chaired by the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
On 21 September, Ministers attending the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) will be updated on preparations towards the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), scheduled for October 2024 in Samoa. The meeting, to be chaired by the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, the Hon Dr Vincent Biruta, will be an opportunity for Samoa to launch the theme for the 2024 CHOGM and outline its vision for the biennial summit. CFAMM will also review the progress achieved to date on mandates set out in the last CHOGM in Rwanda in June 2022 and chart the way ahead.
As customary, the CFAMM will also receive updates on territorial issues impacting certain member countries, including a report from the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana, which is scheduled to meet on 17 September.
In the afternoon of 21 September, the United Kingdom will chair the inaugural Commonwealth Environment and Climate Ministerial Meeting (CECMM), which will outline key priorities to take forward to the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP28. Ministers will be encouraged to share country experiences and explore ways to strengthen collaboration to tackle global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification, ocean degradation and energy transition.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, emphasised the critical timing of the gatherings, and the importance for the world to see decisive action taken on key issues:
“The gap between words and deeds looms large over this UN General Assembly. On the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement, the world is a long way off track. The scale of the challenges we face demand our highest ambition, and this General Assembly must be a turning point.
“As leaders gather in New York, Commonwealth ministers will come together with unity and purpose, driving forward our bold work to build a more peaceful and sustainable common future for the 2.6 billion people of the Commonwealth, and the wider world. We will lead by example, guided by our shared values, in pursuit of our shared interests, and resolute in our commitment to shared action.”
During the meetings, the Secretary-General will also update ministers on the various initiatives and work programmes being implemented by the Commonwealth Secretariat to support member countries, delivering on the mandates set by Commonwealth Heads of Government. She will be accompanied by a delegation of senior officials and experts from the Secretariat, who will be in New York from 17 to 24 September.