Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, while I have you trapped here for a few moments I just wanted to say a few words, if I may, about the importance I attach to next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. As you know only too well, the Commonwealth has a been a cornerstone of my life for as long as I can remember and I count myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to visit almost every corner of it and to have met so many remarkable people.
It seems to me that in many ways the diversity to be found within the Commonwealth family is perhaps its greatest strength, for, paradoxically, through our shared values and experience we are united and can draw great strength. This unity and strength will be vital in the years ahead for, as you know only too well, we are facing unparalleled challenges caused by rapid climate change and biodiversity loss. I do believe that the Commonwealth, with the extraordinary richness of resources and ideas upon which it can draw, can offer many solutions to the problems that we share.
The next 18 months will see critical meetings that will collectively determine the global agenda for the coming decade. And these, again, as you know better than I, range from the UNSG’s Climate Action Summit this September, to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties in China next October, to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties to be held, I hope, in London that Autumn. Next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting stands of course at a pivotal point in the middle of these events and will be an absolutely vital moment to consolidate consensus on the way forward, not least of which, will be the deliberations on how to increase the amount of private sector finance flowing towards supporting sustainable development throughout the Commonwealth.
In this regard, I am delighted that, as a result of the recent gathering convened here at Clarence House, with the help of the World Economic Forum, including experts in sustainable finance and impact investment - something in which I have taken an interest for nearly ten years now - substantial new initiatives are being undertaken to support this important work. Ladies and gentlemen, I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival.
Next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, therefore, could not be more important and I can only say how much I look forward, I hope, to seeing you and your leaders in Kigali so that we will succeed in raising our level of ambition, while matching it with the practical action that is required. I truly believe that the Commonwealth is uniquely positioned to join forces and lead the world by example. And your Excellencies, for what it’s worth, I stand ready to support you in these efforts and to seeing the Commonwealth at the forefront of a global solution.