Small states make big plans in Colombo

The Commonwealth has affirmed its commitment to supporting the progress of small states, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said in the week leading up to CHOGM. 

“All Commonwealth societies should be better equipped to benefit from progress and increasingly able to share the dividends of prosperity. None should be left behind. This has ever been the driving spirit of the Commonwealth.” 

He continued: “Now is the time to make our distinctive Commonwealth voice heard loud and clear for small states, and for our member states collectively to contribute to international and regional processes for the shaping of the post-2015 global development framework – particularly from a small states perspective.” 

On 12 November, 2013, foreign ministers from around the Commonwealth met at the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting on Small States in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

The meeting addressed many of the key concerns of the 31 Commonwealth nations with populations under 1.5 million and those challenged by limited resources. 

The importance of including these countries in all Commonwealth matters was highlighted, to ensure they have an equal voice as part of their membership. 

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister and chair of the meeting, Prof. G. L. Peiris, insisted that in order to achieve this notion of inclusive development, the citizens of these countries need to experience a real and measurable change in living standards. He suggested that many of the financial problems small states face, such as increasing debt burdens and a lack of investment opportunity, act as barriers to this opportunity for change. 

“Our central challenge today is to make development a reality for our people and improve their quality of life. It must not appear remote to them,” he said. 

CHOGM’s 2013 theme, ‘Growth with equity: inclusive development’, will be under spotlight in 2014, which has been deemed the International Year of Small Island Developing States, with a summit set to be hosted by Samoa. 



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