Ministers responsible for the environment across the Commonwealth met in Nairobi, Kenya, on 18 February to discuss options for ensuring that a post-2015 development agenda places sustainability and protection of the environment at its centre.
This was the first meeting since the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro. At the Rio meeting, it was agreed that the international community would work together to establish a new set of sustainable development goals that ensure that the use of the world’s resources today does not compromise use by future generations.
Chaired by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy Susil Premajayantha, the annual ‘Commonwealth Consultative Group on the Environment' gave the ministers an opportunity to share lessons on how each of their countries had progressed with the seventh Millennium Development Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability.
The ministers noted that while many Commonwealth countries have been successful in promoting wider access to clean water and increasing the availability of safe drinking water, major challenges remained in achieving access to basic sanitation, halting biodiversity loss and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Mr Susil Premajayantha said: “The adverse impact of climate change, access to energy and drinking water, food security and poverty are major emerging issues and challenges that developing countries are facing today. Financial, technical and capacity building support for the means to address them is needed.”
The minister noted that the Commonwealth Environment Ministerial Forum would be the most suitable platform to discuss options for such interventions.
The Director of Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Cyrus Rustomjee said: “Now is the time to take forward these lessons and add Commonwealth perspectives to the discourse on both the Sustainable Development Goals and post-2015 frameworks and to advocate for greater synergies between environment, energy and other development goals.”
Ministers recognised that environmental sustainability is crucial to development, and can support progress in other development aspirations related to poverty reduction and access to sustainable energy.
They observed that there was an opportunity for the international community to further embed climate change and energy within the emerging sustainable development plans and deepen the linkages between these areas and broader development goals.
Dr Rustomjee said that to support countries in better sharing information, a Commonwealth Environment and Climate Change Network will soon be launched.
Chair's Summary Statement