In April last year, the UK hosted one of the most successful Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) ever. All 53 members of the Commonwealth adopted the Commonwealth Blue Charter, agreed to establish action groups on ocean issues led by Commonwealth member countries and mandated the Secretariat to take forward a Commonwealth Blue Charter plan of action. Since CHOGM, nine action groups have now been proposed of which the UK Government has joined three so far: the coral reef protection, ocean acidification, and ocean and climate change action groups. The UK Government is in the process of joining the action groups on Mangroves and Marine Protected Areas.
The UK and Vanuatu also spearhead the groundbreaking Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance (CCOA), the action group to tackle the scourge of plastic pollution in the ocean. The CCOA has gained unparalleled support since its launch in April, increasing its membership from seven to 24 countries across the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific regions. In recognition of our global leadership on tackling the problem of plastic in the ocean, the Prime Minister has announced up to £66.4 million of UK aid to assist Commonwealth countries. This includes a technical assistance facility that will support developing countries in achieving their commitments under the CCOA, which was increased from £5 million to £10 million by the Prime Minister in August last year.
The first phase of the £6 million Commonwealth Litter Programme (CLiP) work in the Pacific region has been completed. Minister Coffey and Pacific country leaders attended a regional conference last month to showcase the marine litter action plans produced by the CLiP with Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Furthermore, over 35 Government funded Commonwealth Blue Charter Fellowships are underway which continue to support emerging Commonwealth scholars to explore solutions to the marine plastics challenge. We have made tremendous progress in safeguarding our ocean since CHOGM 2018 and we expect even more successful action ahead of the next CHOGM meeting in Rwanda in 2020.
The UK is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, and tackling climate change and managing the natural environment is a core part of the Government’s international work. For example:
- The UK has increased its contribution to the Global Environment Facility to £250 million in the latest replenishment round (2018-2022).
- The Prime Minister will lead on galvanising international efforts on climate resilience at the UN Secretary General’s Summit in September this year.
- As part of a £61.4 million package of UK support announced by the Prime Minister at CHOGM, together with further announcements made during the Prime Minister’s visit to Africa, the Government has committed support to priority countries to increase recycling and tackle poor waste management. This includes: £3 million to trial approaches to the management of plastic waste in cities in three developing Commonwealth countries (Bangladesh, Ghana and Uganda) and up to £10 million of technical assistance to developing countries that have signed up to the CCOA.
At the International Wildlife Trade Conference hosted in London in October last year, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the international wildlife trade and we are now investing over £36 million between 2014 and 2021 to counter the trade, including £900,000 of new funding to develop a British military counter-poaching taskforce in Africa.
At last year’s Katowice Climate Change Conference, the UK demonstrated its climate leadership through our instrumental role in the creation of a rulebook to bring the Paris Agreement to life. This common set of rules and metrics is essential for driving genuine climate action globally and for future agreements.
Since April last year the Green Climate Fund has approved the funding of $1.05 billion in funding proposals, and successfully launched its first replenishment for the second resource mobilisation phase. A further $122.5 million has been approved for readiness funding to be deployed this year. Polices related to results management, prohibited practices, the restructuring and cancellation of funding proposals and the appointment of the World Bank as Trustee were also approved. The Fund also selected its next Executive Director, who will serve a four year term from April.
As announced by the Foreign Secretary at CHOGM, the UK and New Zealand co-hosted a meeting at Wilton Park on 16-18 December to discuss climate change and resilience in the Pacific. The Forum was an opportunity to listen to Pacific concerns, needs and priorities in relation to climate change, and provided a space for representatives from across governments and the academic and private sectors to discuss innovative solutions to these challenges.