Commonwealth Secretary-General pledges full support to Sri Lanka

Commonwealth Secretary-General pledges full support to Sri Lanka

Commonwealth-Secretary General, Patricia Scotland KC, has pledged the Commonwealth Secretariat’s full support to Sri Lanka as the country navigates difficult challenges.

Speaking during a lecture in Colombo, the Secretary-General said Sri Lanka was not alone in facing the fallout from a host of interconnected global pressures like spiralling costs, energy shortages and the effects of climate change.

Nevertheless, the Commonwealth, as a collective of 56 countries, is working together to lend support and help member states work towards a more prosperous, sustainable and secure future for all.

She is in Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Government to attend Independence Day celebration events in Colombo, marking the significant anniversary.

The Secretary-General said: “I know that Sri Lanka continues to feel the weight of political and economic pressure.

“Pressure can be hard to bear. It can be destabilising. Isolating. Frightening.

“I am here because I want every Sri Lankan to know that you are not alone in the nature of the challenges you face…

“The world feels as though it is fracturing and, in an increasingly polarised environment, people are anxious about the capacity of governments and international institutions to provide the leadership and action required.

“It is in exactly a context like this that the Commonwealth can mobilise its greatest qualities. We are carbon.

“When immense pressure is applied to carbon, it can create a multifaceted, complex, resilient and magnificent diamond. That is our Commonwealth.”

The Secretary-General gave a lecture at ocean think-tank the Geopolitical Cartographer on the Commonwealth’s role in facing ‘Polycrisis’ – the term given to the current set of linked factors causing global instability.

It was attended by the President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, who gave a speech and is a patron of the organisation.

The Secretary-General pointed to the Commonwealth’s shared values of peace, justice, tolerance, respect and solidarity and its role as an international champion for small and vulnerable states as qualities that will help it remain strong in the current international climate.

She said: “In the face of the Polycrisis, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do not simply honour these values, but that we ensure they shape the choices we make in the face of profound global challenges.

“Because values matter most when they are being put to the test.”

She added: “Where we can face the challenges of the world as a family, we build proud, connected nations: each with the confidence to stand tall, but each with the perspective to know that we are at our best when we work together.

“Sri Lanka is not simply part of this work, you are central to it.”

Sri Lanka is a founding member of the Commonwealth, who has been heavily involved in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s work on climate. It is a lead member and champion of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihood, and is also a member of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups on Marine Protected Areas, Ocean Acidification, Ocean and Climate Change, Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, Ocean Observation and Sustainable Coastal Fisheries.

Sri Lanka was involved in the first pilot of the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessments – a project which measures a nation’s climate and ocean-based risk level to help inform policy and decisive action.

Officials also joined Blue Charter virtual training courses offered by the Commonwealth Secretariat on the topic of policy considerations when developing a sustainable blue economy.

This year, 2023, is the Commonwealth Year of Peace, the Commonwealth Year of Youth and the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter – the shared values that enshrine the purpose and mission of the Commonwealth. (Colombo Gazette)

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