Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Copenhagen, and the future

The conclusion of the Climate Change Talks in Copenhagen has left us with a lot of lessons to be learned. The management of the talks left a lot to be desired both in terms of the Agenda and in the range of involvement. Developing countries do not like to be left out in the cold; they want to be fully involved in the talks that will have so much impact on their future development. I’m am glad to see the UN Secretary General has recognised this and will work to improve the negotiation process before the next round of talks

I must admit to a feeling of déjà vu watching the talks progress. Before Doha, it would have often been the G8 countries coming together, making decisions and then letting everyone else know what had been decided. While on this occasion the range of countries involved was much wider (almost the G20) it still excluded some of the countries that will be the worst affected by climate change.

One good thing is immediately apparent coming out of the talks, the high emission countries, the US, EU, China, India, Japan, etc are now fully involved in finding a solution to climate change and its causes. While the agreement is not legally binding, by publically committing to the accord the countries are recognising the problem and have agreed to work to keep global temperature rises below 2oc – this is progress.

One of the foreseeable outcomes of the agreement as it moves to implementation is the cost of development in developing countries increasing; this will change the future path of development. While the agreement makes previsions to increased Aid to the developing world, $30 Billion over the next 3 years, and $100 billion by 2020, this is not likely to be new money - the state of the finances in the developed countries makes that improbable.

The cost of development and the way it takes place will have to be reviewed, with less government money going to traditional development projects there may well be greater competition between developing nations to attract private sector support. Also the private sectors involvement, from the very beginning, in the roll out of carbon trading and the use clean technologies to the developing world is absolutely essential.

lets hope 2010 will be bring a new commitment from governments and the private sector to work for cleaner technology and lower emissions.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Commonwealth Business Forum

It was a new and interesting experience holding an event the size of the Commonwealth Business Forum on a cruise ship. The Forum was instrumental in building new partnerships that represent the new global alliances coming out of the changes to the global economy caused by the financial crisis of the past year.

The Forum has become a key mechanism for developing south-south relationships and increasing investment to small states and developing countries. Examples of the real business done at the Forum include:

1) Agreements on Oil and Gas partnerships between Trinidad & Tobago and West African States

2) Agreement between British Companies to invest in Grenada on Agriculture

3) Agreement between Canadian Companies and the Government of Grenada to work together on Healthcare

4) Agreement between Malaysian Companies to work with the Caribbean on Tourism and Telecommunications

5) Agreement between Indian Companies and Trinidad and Tobago to work together on ICT projects

6) Agreement Between an American company and Trinidad and Tobago to work together on Clean Technology

7) Agreement Between a Dutch company and African States to work together on Clean Technology solutions

8) And many more…..

I am delighted to see such solid outcomes from the Business Forum and am certain there will be a lasting impact on the economies in the region over the coming years.

Aside from the business done, the Forum has become a key private sector event, where business can forge a strong dialogue with Governments on trade and investment issues. 10 Heads of Government, sharing a stage with over 100 business leaders, spoke passionately and informatively on topics such as climate change, the impacts of the financial crisis and ways of improving the business climate. The Forums findings were submitted to CHOGM for the Heads consideration and can be read here.

The 2009 Business Forum was the largest event the CBC has ever held it brought together over 1100 investors and interested parties for debated and discussion in 10 Plenary and 40 Breakout sessions. I look forward to carrying this success forward to all CBC will undertake in the New Year.