Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, was among leaders representing the 53 states who took on climate change as their primary issue, as the 21st Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) opened in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Friday (November 28).
Mr. Golding is leading Jamaica’s team, which also includes: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh; Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Burchell Whiteman; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Onika Miller; and Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Vilma McNish.
Ceremonial Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II, set the tone for the discussions in her opening address, stating that while the threat to the environment is not a new phenomenon, it has become a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions in the future.
Although France is not a member of the Commonwealth, its President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is in Port-of-Spain as a special guest of Prime Minister Patrick Manning, seeking to mobilise support for a united front at the Climate Change Conference, scheduled for Copenhagn, Denmark, December 7-18.
Members of the Jamaican delegation to the 21st Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago pictured after the colourful opening ceremony Friday (November 27), which included performances and cultural displays by over 900-performers at Trinidad’s National Academy for the Performing Arts. Left to right: Executive Assistant to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding, Pat Reid;:, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Miss Onika Miller,,, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation Mike Fennell, High Commissioner to London His Excellency Burchell Whiteman; and Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Ambassador Vilma McNish.
Sarkozy met with a number of Heads on Friday, including Mr. Golding, on the climate change issue and a proposed agreement at the Copenhagen meeting next month.
President Sarkozy has insisted that the agreement coming out of Copenhagen must help the poorer nations. He has also had talks with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, host of next month’s meeting who is also in Trinidad, as well as the Governments of China and India, on the issue.
He and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have suggested an innovative financial mechanism for a grant of US$10 billion, to be set up to ensure the sustainable development of poorer countries, while they implement measures to reduce carbon emissions.
Host Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, called on his colleagues to ensure that they reach consensus on the issue, before the meeting ends on Sunday. He urged them not to become “victims of pessimism” prior to the Copenhagen meeting.
The CHOGM is the last meeting before the Copenhagen talks. The theme of the CHOG is, “Partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future.”
The wives of the Prime Ministers are also being kept busy. Mrs. Golding was among those attending a working luncheon on Friday afternoon. On Saturday, they will participate in a number of other activities, including an entrepreneurial symposium hosted by the wife of Prime Minister Manning, Senator Hazel Manning.
Mr. Golding returns home on Monday (November 30). During his absence, the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, is in charge of the Government.