Commonwealth Parliamentarians examine global crises at virtual 49th CPA British Islands and Mediterranean Conference
Over fifty Parliamentarians from more than thirteen Commonwealth countries and territories have joined a virtual conference to discuss the response of Parliaments in times of crisis with a special focus on the current COVID-19 pandemic. The 49th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) British Islands and Mediterranean (BIM) Regional Conference, was hosted by the Parliament of Malta and CPA Malta Branch with a virtual meeting from 24 to 25 September 2020.
The regional conference was opened by the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the Parliament of Malta, Hon. Angelo Farrugia, who spoke of the need for Parliaments and Parliamentarians to learn from each other in these challenging times for all jurisdictions. The Speaker highlighted the importance of how Parliaments react to the current crisis and how it presented an opportunity to rethink how Parliaments operate. The current global crisis had enabled technological innovation to flourish and Parliaments had adapted their procedures to continue to operate.
The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Hon. Emilia Monjowa Lifaka, MP, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon, addressed the opening of the regional conference and said:
“I believe this is the first CPA BIM Regional Conference to be held remotely and its success is testament to the ingenuity of the Parliament of Malta and the wider region. It follows a very effective and fruitful virtual CPA International Executive Committee Meeting that I chaired in August and I imagine we will be harnessing these new technologies increasingly in the coming months as face to face meetings still remain difficult in many parts of the world. Regional conferences such as these are an excellent opportunity for Members and staff alike to join together and discuss these values and how best to approach them in what is often a challenging and fast-moving global context.”
The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg attending his first CPA Regional Conference since his appointment said:
“The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across the Commonwealth on health, on the economy and on public finances. COVID-19 has impacted on everyone, but it has hit some harder than others. It reminds us why the work of the CPA networks – the CPA Small Branches network, the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, and the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities - are of such vital importance.” The CPA Secretary-General also spoke of the importance of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals which focus on tackling poverty, addressing climate change and environmental degradation and promoting positive good governance around the world.
Delegates attending the virtual BIM regional conference participated in workshops on a number of topics including: the parliamentary responses to COVID-19; the economic impact of COVID-19 on small jurisdictions; the impacts of COVID-19 on women and men in policy-making; examining if the innovations introduced in response to COVID-19 made Parliaments more resilient.
The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) British Islands and Mediterranean Region held a meeting of the regional Steering Committee during the virtual regional conference and the BIM regional conference also incorporated the CPA BIM Region’s Annual General Meeting.