Malta and Paris: key milestones
CLGF Secretary-General Dr Carl Wright
The 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta was a milestone summit for the Commonwealth. Malta achieved many of its aims, adopting a Leaders' Statement and Communique focussed on climate change, migration, combatting extremism, human rights, supporting small states and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also took some practical steps such as confirming the establishment of a Small States Centre of Excellence. A new Secretary-General was selected - Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, the first woman to occupy this post - and there is now a dynamic and energetic Chairperson in Office, 2015-17, in Prime Minister Muscat of Malta.
From a CLGF perspective, too, our CHOGM delegation, led by CLGF Chairperson Lawrence Yule, achieved our main goals - appreciation of the role of local government, acknowledgement of the CLGF Botswana conference and recognition of the need for greater collaboration between Commonwealth Associated Organisations (AOs) such as CLGF and the Commonwealth intergovernmental organisations. This was coupled with a positive exchange between AOs and foreign ministers, where CLGF presented the AO position to ministers, including a plea for AOs to be directly involved in a proposed governance review of the Commonwealth.
Likewise COP21 in Paris, where I represented CLGF at the Local Leaders' summit on 4 December, produced a milestone agreement. This was helped at least in past by the prior CHOGM statement on climate change, concluded in Malta in the presence of President Hollande of France and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The many mayors present in Paris all committed to the Compact of Mayors, pledging to measure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 360 cities worldwide. It was therefore appropriate that both the COP21 outcomes – the Paris Agreement - and the earlier CHOGM statement directly acknowledged the key role which local and regional governments have in tackling climate change.
While both were successes, Malta and Paris will be judged on their practical follow-up. For the Commonwealth, this entails ensuring that the Commonwealth moves forward as an organisation truly relevant to all its members, promoting fundamental political principles as well as helping to implement the 2030 Agenda. It will also require especially, but not only, Commonwealth developed countries agreeing resources to support Commonwealth organisations such as CLGF to implement the Malta mandates. Likewise, Paris requires much detailed follow-up action and allocation of new resources - $100 billion by 2020 - necessary to achieve the 1.5oc target. This target is critical for so many low-lying and island Commonwealth states in the Pacific and elsewhere. Here the new Cities Climate Finance leadership Alliance, of which CLGF is a member, could be an important vehicle to help secure funds for our members. Local government, including CLGF and its new Commonwealth sustainable cities network, is determined to play its part to ensure that Malta and Paris live up to the high expectations generated and that they deliver the results which our citizens now rightly expect.