The contemporary challenge from climate change is a global concern, its impact touches every nation on earth. Despite contributing least to global greenhouse gas emissions, it is however, the small states and territories of the Commonwealth and beyond who will suffer disproportionately from its effects. In continuation of its long history engaging with small Legislatures, the CPA, through its CPA Small Branches network, has supported and empowered small states and territories, and their parliamentarians, to tackle the significant issues which face them, including climate change.
Although combatting climate change requires the support of the international community, the CPA believes that small states and their Parliamentarians can play, and have played, a crucial role in tackling this challenge. In February 2020, the CPA Small Branches developed a Climate Change Toolkit for Parliamentarians. Download a copy here.
The development of the toolkit began in 2018, when Commonwealth Parliamentarians from eight CPA Branches representing five CPA Regions met for the CPA Small Branches Climate Change Workshop at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya. Parliamentarians engaged with top-tier experts from the United Nations and formulated policy recommendations for legislators across the Commonwealth. Given the recent momentum that the climate change agenda has gained globally, the former Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches Network, Hon. Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Parliament of Malta, suggested the creation of an up-to-date, practical guide for legislators featuring the latest climate science, and with practical guidance for small state Parliamentarians embarking upon effective climate change action. The toolkit was also helped by contributions from CPA Small Branch Parliamentarians at the climate change workshop session during the 37th CPA Small Branches Conference, held in September 2019, in Kampala, Uganda.
As part of its new Strategic Plan, climate change and biodiversity will remain at the forefront of its work in coming years. We will pursue this in partnership with others working in this important sphere including UNDP, UNEP, UNFCCC, UNESCO, IRENA, Climate Parliament, Parliamentarians for Global Action and many more.
In utilising such partnerships, in August 2020, the CPA in collaboration with UNESCO’s Small Islands and Indigenous Knowledge Section convened to online webinars to highlight the role of legislators and decision-makers in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Agenda. The webinars aimed to build the knowledge of Commonwealth Parliamentarians and policy makers in small jurisdictions and to highlight the multilateral agreements and global instruments within UNESCO’s mandate of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, communication and information.
Videos of the two webinars are available below.
In mainstreaming these issues, the CPA will also step up our efforts to ensure our operations are more environmentally sustainable. This will include an increased use of virtual meetings where possible to reduce air travel, a reduction in the number of physical publications and printed materials and a reinforcement of our paperless policy for governance meetings.
In September 2021, the CPA joined with international partners led by GLOBE International to facilitate the engagement of parliamentary networks and Parliamentarians at the forthcoming COP26 and UNFCCC meetings. The UNFCCC Parliamentary Group will provide administrative, information and coordination support to engage cross-party legislators at UNFCCC meetings and COPs. The latest issue of the bi-weekly Parliamentary Group Focal Point newsletter can be accessed here.