PM HARRIS AND COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY-GENERAL PROMOTE THE INTERESTS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 2, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Mitigating the impacts of climate change on small island states, implementation of the outcomes from the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), as well as continued dialogue on matters concerning the Windrush generation were among the issues discussed when Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris met with Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC at his office earlier today, Wednesday, May 2.

 

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is currently on a tour of the Caribbean where she is holding broad-based discussions with leaders on how the Commonwealth can assist climate vulnerable countries in minimizing the impact of extreme weather events.

 

Mrs. Scotland, whose visit comes less than a month away from the start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, said, “We’ve been made aware that this hurricane season is likely to be as bad as last year and there’s even a potential for it to be a little worse, so one of the purposes of coming so quickly after CHOGM is to be able to speak to leaders in the region about how we prepare better, how we build better [and] how we enhance our resilience,” Secretary-General Scotland said, while noting that the Secretariat is presently working on a tool kit that will “pool the best practices we can find from across the Commonwealth to try and make that available…so that we can share the knowledge and understanding that we have.”

 

During her discussions with the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister, the Secretary-General noted that the interests of small island states, particularly as it relates to the impacts of climate change have remained a focal point of the Commonwealth Secretariat “because of the existential threat that it poses to our Commonwealth as a whole, but particularly the 31 small states that face it on a day to day basis.”

 

Mrs. Scotland also applauded leaders of the much larger Commonwealth nations for recognizing the importance of small island states during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which was held in London from 16th to 20th April this year.

 

“I was truly delighted that that message of shared understanding came out so clearly, particularly at the leaders’ retreat on the Friday (April 20) where we heard a number of the major countries saying firstly that the Commonwealth should concentrate on small states and it was powerful to hear them say that if we don’t do this together some of the brothers and sisters sitting around that room would no longer be there…and so I am delighted that we have been able to move the needle in terms of understanding.”

 

Prime Minister Harris commended Secretary-General Scotland and the Commonwealth Secretariat for their leadership on a number of matters critical to the continued development of small island states.

 

Dr. Harris said, “We certainly do appreciate your leadership of the Secretariat [and] the manner in which the Secretariat sought to use and to leverage its influence to bring favourable attention and response to the islands post-hurricanes. The continuing importance of the dialogue on the agenda of small island states is one which the Commonwealth perhaps must seize with renewed vigor.”

 

While in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC also met with the Minister of Health, Honourable Eugene Hamilton, with whom she explored the potential of Commonwealth initiatives to help countries address communicable and non-communicable diseases, and with Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Mark Brantley, with whom she addressed strategies for climate action, financing and improving education resources.

 

The Commonwealth Secretary-General also held discussions with Minister responsible for International Trade, the Honourable Lindsay Grant. Among the issues addressed during that meeting were strategies to boost the 19 percent Commonwealth trade advantage among member states.

 

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