“Volatility is the new normal,” Commonwealth conference told

Samoa’s hosting of the 5th Commonwealth global biennial conference on small states is “particularly fitting location” for the week long session dedicated to improving small state’s access to climate financing, and resilience to disasters.

Previously, the Commonwealth hosted the conference in Seychelles, London, and St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

This week, those small states are gathered to not only learn how to access that financing, but to talk about what they need funds for and how to manage the incoming disaster that is climate change.

For small states, disaster risk management is a development and sustainability issue, not just a climate change response.

“Ensuring adequate financing to effectively address the negative impacts of climate change and disasters is fundamental,” the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said.

“In the Pacific region, Forum Leaders have consistently called for increased access to, and better management of, climate change and disaster risk finance.”

In response, the Commonwealth has developed guidelines and templates for small states to use when applying for climate finance.

Travis Mitchell, head of the small states unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said the next few days will not be more talk about climate change risks, which are now well known, but rather what policies and strategies are needed to overcome them.

“After almost 40 years of advocacy, the Commonwealth Secretariat, partners and affected countries have succeeded in convincing the world that small states are vulnerable,” he said.

“This discussion is very much solutions-focused, so what we want is for countries to leave this room knowing what they have to do to tackle disaster risk."

This week, Mozambique was hit by Cyclone Idai, leaving 700 dead with the death toll still rising. 

Mr. Mitchell said the conversations of the conference are “crucial to our survival.”

“Volatility is now the new normal,” he said, referring to the increasingly severity of storms in the last decade.

“I implore you to treat these discussions with the importance they deserve.”

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