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Commonwealth wraps up summit, climate change on top agenda

2009-11-30 17:29 BJT

PORT OF SPAIN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Commonwealth of Nations wrapped up a summit meeting dominated by climate change on Sunday in Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, which was notable for the appearance of leaders from outside the organization.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) brought together 51 representatives from member states most of which were former British colonies.

It also attracted leaders active on the climate change arena, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen whose country is to host the UN climate meeting in December.

In a statement released after the three-day summit meeting, theleaders threw weight behind the negotiation process for a global climate change agreement at the Copenhagen meeting next month.

They also welcomed the initiative to start a Copenhagen Launch Fund, which is proposed by Britain and France and will spend 10 billion U.S.dollars in battling climate change each year in the next three years.

However, Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo warned that the fund could only be considered a first step since economists have estimated that over 300 billion dollars will be spent in fighting climate change by 2020.

"The world bank estimates it needs between 75 billion and 80 billion per annum," Jagdeo said.

Besides, several leaders said that rich nations' financial commitments would remove one of the key obstacles to reaching an agreement in Copenhagen.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare said that the meeting would go down in history as the world's most vulnerable were able to make their voices heard on climate change.

"It was made clear that there is something wrong and this conference made it possible for our voice to be heard," Somare told the media, adding that he considered the CHOGM a great success.

The CHOGM also enrolled central African state Rwanda as the Commonwealth's 54th member, ending a negotiation that had lasted more than 16 years during which the country had switched its official language from French to English.

Rwanda's accession also formalized the process of entry to the Commonwealth, most of whose members are English-speaking former British colonies.

The formal process now contains an expression of interest by a nation, followed by an informal assessment by the Commonwealth secretary general, a consultation with member states, a formal invitation by the Commonwealth and finally a formal application showing that the nation has a working democracy and its citizens want to join.

"There was no contention about Rwanda's acceptance. It has passed through a four-step process. By the time Rwanda reaches the final stages of that process all doubts have been dispelled," Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and host of the summit, told the press.

According to him, another key achievement is the commitment to take actions against non-communicable diseases (NCD), including a call for a September 2011 UN summit on the issue and for anti-NCD measures to be included in the UN millennium development goals. The CHOGM also made a restatement of the Commonwealth's shared values and a declaration in support of member nations' youths.

In its final communiqué, the member states also called for actions against small arms trafficking, human trafficking, piracy and terrorism and voiced support for the right to migrate, the implementation of human rights accords, and efforts to achieve gender equality and security in food and energy.

Along with the senior representatives, some 5,000 delegates including government officials, non-governmental organization workers, business people, representatives of youth organizations and journalists also came to the summit.

The 53-nation body represents around 2 billion people, although more than 1 billion are in just one member, India. Two members -- Fiji, which has been suspended due to a coup, and Nauru, which has been suspended due to fee arrears -- did not send delegates.

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: Xinhua