Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland made the observation in an interview with CMC Friday on the margins of a three-day London conference on new climate change strategies for countries of the 52-member organisation.
According to Scotland, global business leaders are coming to the conclusion that a sustainable ecological approach to development is among the best guarantees of stable, profitable investments.
She reported that such a position had been advanced by Unilever CEO Paul Polman at the Commonwealth conference which has brought together leading environmental experts and other stakeholders to discuss “an innovative strategy to reverse the human impact of climate change.”
“Progressive, future business is going to have to look at delivering the sustainable development goals business,” Scotland said. “The sustainability agenda is the only agenda in the longer term which is going to deliver the real wealth.”
The Commonwealth SG said the Caribbean has an advantage when it came to this, since the region “has been right at the forefront of this climate change fight, since the beginning.”
“Climate change issues became most apparent in our region and indeed in the Pacific islands,” she said. “It was almost like if we were the canaries that are sent down the mines to see what is happening and if the canary comes back it is okay and if the canary does not come back the rest of the world is in trouble.”
Scotland also advised that the Caribbean has a distinct advantage in the “green and blue” technological markets “because we are the ones with the ocean … and we have smart people in our region.”
She said governments need to understand that these are resources international businesses are look at and that, in this respect, the region is “ahead of the game.”
The conference follows a meeting last October which brought together over 60 scientists, academics and other climate change stakeholders.
The experts considered, according to one Commonwealth press release, “cutting-edge approaches to reducing carbon emissions and addressing global warming, while boosting development and economic growth.”
The Commonwealth SG has been an advocate of new technologies that can reduce the impact of carbon emissions and move from adaptation and mitigation to a “reversal” of their impact.
A “regenerative development” strategy was announced at the conference with a claim to being able to achieve this objective.”
This approach, according to Scotland, promotes more research into innovations such as carbon absorbing bricks and other technologies to both reduce and absorb harmful industrial emissions.
This week’s conference tabled the report of the expert group and discussed strategies to recognise climate changes as “not only our biggest challenge (but) also our biggest opportunity.”
Scotland told CMC after hearing the submissions of the scientists and investors she was confident that the small island member states of the Commonwealth, in particular, have the potential to take advantage of economic opportunities while grappling with the serious challenges of climate change.
“We know that our countries need the money (and) we can together work on how we maximise opportunities to each of our small island states to get what they need so that people understand that actually they are not small island development states alone in a big blue ocean,” she said.
Last October, a Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub was launched in Mauritius to help governments deal with the effects of climate change through funding from a global fund targeting up to $100 billion a year by 2020.
The new Commonwealth strategy is expected to be discussed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties in Bonn, Germany in November.
- Countries: United_Kingdom