The Foundation is partnering with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS), the Independent Forum of Commonwealth Organisations (IFCO), and The UN SIDS ‘Sharp End’ partnership to deliver a symposium on climate change policy and the Commonwealth. Held three days before the start of COP26 in Glasgow, the symposium will address pressing Commonwealth climate change issues.

COP26 represents challenge and opportunity for the Commonwealth. Oil-rich Commonwealth developing countries face the challenge of balancing their commitments to Net Zero with their own development needs. Meanwhile, Small Island States see opportunities to advocate for policies that could save them from the existential threat caused by global heating. This symposium will identify these challenges and opportunities – and look for a path forward.

Many Commonwealth organisations and countries have made significant contributions towards achieving the 1.5°C target set out in the Paris Agreement. These contributions are highly commendable, especially given the damage done to climate policy research caused by cuts in development spending. Replicating these successes could be transformative for the Commonwealth and the climate – particularly for Small States with limited climate policy capacity. This symposium will look at these achievements and ask what lessons can be transferred across countries and regions.

Finally, the symposium will examine the Commonwealth’s impact. This global network of Member States, Accredited Organisations, universities, cities, and professional bodies offers huge potential for climate action. But where should the Commonwealth focus its efforts to make a difference? Could Commonwealth Organisations work more closely with the many regional organisations which, although not explicitly Commonwealth-focused, share their purpose and values?