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Commonwealth Secretary-General to Visit Samoa and Tonga

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, will embark on official visits to Samoa and the Kingdom of Tonga from 25 March 2024.

In both countries, she will hold discussions with Heads of Government, cabinet ministers, and other public figures on issues of importance to the Commonwealth and the Pacific region, including Commonwealth assistance and cooperation.

The Secretary-General will arrive in Samoa on 25 March 2024, where she will meet with Prime Minister Hon Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa to discuss the preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for this October in Apia.

From 30 March to 3 April 2024, the Secretary-General will be in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, for her first official visit.

She will meet with Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Hu’akavameiliku, Deputy Prime Minister Hon Samiu Vaipulu, Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Fekitamoeloa ʻUtoikamanu, and other cabinet ministers.

She will particularly seek their perspectives on the CHOGM agenda as part of consultations with member countries ahead of the biennial meeting.

Whilst in Tonga, the Secretary-General will visit communities affected by the 2022 Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai Volcano eruption and learn about the impact of the disaster on their lives and livelihoods.

Much-valued members

Ahead of her visit, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“Samoa and Tonga are wonderful countries with strong cultural links, and I am so happy to be returning to the Pacific.

“Both countries are central to our Commonwealth family and embody the values and commitments we share, with their governments and people actively contributing to the partnerships which make the modern Commonwealth so strong and dynamic.

“The beauty, heritage, and diversity of the Pacific are a blessing to the world. I look forward to working closely with the Commonwealth’s members in the region to confront shared challenges, seize shared opportunities, and support their goals to deliver a resilient common future for all.”

Samoa will be the first small island state from the Pacific to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Discussions at the meeting will focus on global political, economic, and environmental developments as well as the work undertaken by the Commonwealth since the last summit in Rwanda almost two years ago.

The Secretary-General expressed her gratitude to the Government and people of Samoa for their warm hospitality and thorough preparations for the meeting.

A critical CHOGM

“Our Head of Government Meeting in Samoa comes at a seminal moment, especially as the impacts of the climate crisis become more intense, more frequent, and more devastating,” she said. “In the Pacific, people see and feel these impacts, living with them every day, despite the region bearing the least responsibility for causing the problem.”

“And yet,” the Secretary-General continued passionately, “The Pacific’s united and powerful advocacy for climate action continues to inspire me, the Commonwealth, and the wider world. As far back as the 1980s, the Commonwealth has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Pacific in partnership and solidarity, raising the alarm on this existential threat of environmental breakdown and calling for decisive global action.”

“Samoa’s hosting of CHOGM – the first in a Pacific Small Island State – symbolises our commitment to amplifying the voices of the most affected,” she added. “The decisions leaders will make together at this meeting will have a profound impact on the well-being of our people and the planet.”

During her engagements in both countries, the Secretary-General will also update leaders and ministers about an array of Commonwealth programmes designed to help member countries strengthen democratic institutions, build resilient economies, and protect the environment.

Particularly on the environmental front, she will highlight the Commonwealth’s coordinated response to unlocking funding for climate action through the Climate Finance Access Hub, ocean challenges through the Blue Charter, land degradation issues through the Living Lands Charter and a just energy transition through Sustainable Energy Transition Agenda

The Secretary-General’s schedule also includes engagements with young people, women’s rights groups, and civil society representatives.

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