Climate Change and Small States: Parliamentarian’s Toolkit launched by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

The contemporary challenge from climate change is a global concern, its impacts touching 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 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (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. The launch of a CPA Climate Change Toolkit for CPA Small Branch Parliamentarians is built on this understanding.

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.

The CPA Small Branches Climate Change toolkit was launched by the Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches Network, Hon. Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands, in the margins of the CPA Small Branches’ second formal programmatic activity, a workshop that took place in Malta focusing on sustainable economic development in small jurisdictions. Being the first research publication launched for the network during her tenure, Hon. Niki Rattle was particularly proud to present the toolkit in Malta, being the home country of the former CPA Small Branches Chairperson, Hon. Angelo Farrugia, who was also present at the launch along with the CPA Acting Secretary-General, Mr Jarvis Matiya.

Hon. Niki Rattle said: “Putting the sustainability of our knowledge sharing and learning at the top of my agenda during my tenure as Chairperson of the CPA Small Branches Network, I am proud to see the results of the Climate Change Workshop in Nairobi reflected in this toolkit. The toolkit however does much more than this: it encapsulates the range of approaches to climate change, the results from the latest scientific research, and details innovative and actionable steps for Parliamentarians from small jurisdictions to make their mark on the climate change agenda. I therefore encourage the membership of the Small Branches to adopt the calls for action outlined in the toolkit and share their experiences and lessons with the Network. This will enable us to progress even further as a parliamentary community on such significant issues as climate change. I very much look forward to see the results of parliamentary activity across small branches resulting from this publication.”

Former CPA Small Branches Chairperson and Speaker of the Parliament of Malta, Hon. Angelo Farrugia, commented on the publication of the toolkit as follows: “I am proud to have initiated the creation of this important piece of research under my term in office as Chairperson of the Small Branches network and I am thrilled to see it launched in my jurisdiction under the leadership of my distinguished colleague, the Speaker of the Cook Islands, Hon. Niki Rattle. Having seen how engaged the Parliamentarians of this Network are on the issue of climate change; I am convinced that this publication will achieve what it aims to - and even more. I strongly encourage Parliamentarians to share case studies resulting from the activities inspired by this toolkit with the CPA and CPA Small Branches network - together we can achieve more, if we dare to think big.”


Notes to Editors: The CPA Small Branches Network (SB) represents Small Branches in all regions of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to identify their particular needs and requirements in parliamentary strengthening, development and cooperation. It is led by its Steering Committee, consisting of 7 Members representing each region of the CPA which contains a Small Branch. The Committee is chaired by Hon. Niki Rattle, Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands. She was preceded by the Hon. Angelo Farrugia, Speaker of the Parliament of Malta, who was the first Chair of the network elected in 2016. The CPA Small Branches Chairperson represents the CPA Small Branches on the CPA Executive Committee.

The CPA has a long history of catering to the needs of Small Branches. Since 1981, the CPA has held Small Branches Conferences for Members from more than 30 jurisdictions with populations of up to a current ceiling of 500,000 people. Members discuss political problems and the operation of democratic systems in some of the world’s smallest jurisdictions. The annual meeting of Small Branches is held in conjunction with the main CPA Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference each year.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), now in its 109th year, exists to develop, promote and support Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance.

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