Key events and meetings

Health gets political

World leaders gathered for a high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York from 19 to 20 September. According to the UN, the meeting presented a unique opportunity for the international community to take action against the epidemic and save millions of lives. The Commonwealth has played a leading role in lobbying for political action on NCDs, the largest contributor to mortality in the majority of developing countries and economies in transition, according to the World Health Organization. NCDs, which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory conditions, currently claim 35 million lives every year. This figure is projected to increase to 53 million by 2030. 

Funding gap a priority for the G20

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and the Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on 5 October to outline options for plugging the gap in development funding ahead of the G20 summit. Sarkozy, who was chair of the G20 in 2011, was briefed on work undertaken by the two organisations to foster innovative options for financing development in vulnerable countries. The current global economic challenges mean financing is falling critically short and cannot be met by traditional sources such as donor governments. “This is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ package. We are not asking all countries to adopt the same measures to generate new sources of development finance for those in need, but [for] all countries to find ways to contribute to the development funding gap in ways that work in their national circumstances,” said Sharma. 

Joint Commonwealth and World Bank meeting on small states

The Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank organised a meeting of experts to discuss the challenges facing small states and identify potential remedies. The meeting, which ran from 17 to 18 November, focused on ‘growth with resilience’, which would enable countries to deal with external shocks to their economies, as well as improve competitiveness through innovation, diversification and investment. Discussions centred on macro-economic stability, debt and development financing, fostering green and sustainable development, as well as issues within the international political economy that affect trade, regional integration and supply value chains. 

Preparations begin for CHOGM 2013

The Commonwealth Secretary General met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Maldives on 9 November, on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit.

The two engaged in wide-ranging discussions on a number of issues, including preparations for the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which will be held in Sri Lanka. Sharma said, “Now is the time to start looking forward to the big ticket outcomes that will be achieved in Colombo, as well as logistical and other matters.” 

Commonwealth calls for aid transparency and accountability

At the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, the Commonwealth called on world leaders to ensure that the outcomes of the talks help drive more effective development. “This summit represents a milestone for international development and is a defining moment in the provision and use of global aid,” said Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith. He noted that while, in recent years, progress has been achieved in aid effectiveness in recipient countries, the donor community has yet to follow. 

Forty years of life-changing ripples

The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) is celebrating four decades of assistance to member states, capacity-building in democracy and human rights, economic development, governance, health and education. In 2011, more than £31 million was committed to the fund, to help transform the lives of people across the Commonwealth through training, expertise and support. “For 40 years, the fund has supported the Secretariat’s core mandates and has helped shape the development landscape, through a ripple effect, bringing lasting change,” said Ransford Smith, Deputy Secretary-General.


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