I am very pleased to contribute to this message on the importance of safeguarding the environment, and the role that the Commonwealth plays in this regard.
I very much welcome the focus placed on our youth, and on their inspiring awareness and direct involvement in the preservation of our natural environment.
Global temperature increases, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, overfishing, over-reliance on fossil fuels, and plastic pollution are some of the most significant environmental issues facing humanity.
Each one of these challenges calls for ambitious and coordinated global action.
These challenges are a reality for many Commonwealth member countries, especially those that are small and vulnerable.
It is encouraging to see how over the years, successive Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings resulted in tangible proposals that support member countries in meeting commitments under national, regional and international frameworks.
The Paris Agreement, the Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendments, as well as the Commonwealth Blue Charter stand out in this context.
It also bears recalling that at the 2015 CHOGM, on the very eve of COP21 in Paris, a most significant contribution was made to global convergence on the issue of Climate Change.
As the host of that Meeting, Malta was tasked with leading negotiations between 53 countries on a Statement on Climate Change that was intended to feed into the COP21 Summit in Paris only a few days later.
A strong political message in support of the Paris Conference was delivered by agreeing on an ambitious stand-alone Statement on Climate Action.
The relevance of Small States in the Climate Change narrative also featured in the Statement, considering that over half of the Commonwealth countries are less developed, small island states.
Very significantly, the statement also emphasised that these countries are bearing a ‘disproportionate burden from the impacts of climate change.’
I have very strong views on this matter, especially in light of the attempts intended to discredit the urgent and devastating effects of Climate Change.
This issue poses undisputed threats to the security, the prosperity, and the economic and social development of the Commonwealth peoples and requires our collective, immediate, hands-on action.
Malta will live up to its commitments and will keep working with Commonwealth partners and other stakeholders, to promote climate change action within the Commonwealth itself, as well as across the international family of nations.