All are vulnerable to climate change

BRUNEI Darussalam recognises the adverse effect that development may have on climate change. And as such, the Sultanate is undertaking efforts to address the issue of climate change, including the implementation of its policies on energy efficiency and conservation, as well as forest resources management.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam made this observation in a titah, which was delivered during the first executive session of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

His Majesty said that the world has seen how devastating the effects of climate change can be.

“What has happened to Brunei Darussalam’s close friend and neighbour, the Philippines, is very saddening, especially for its people who are suffering so much. The message is clear. All are vulnerable,” said His Majesty.

In view of this, His Majesty said that it is important that the Commonwealth addresses the issue together. Perhaps the Secretariat could explore ways to enhance co-operation among Commonwealth countries, not only climate change but also on disaster management, suggested His Majesty.

His Majesty, meanwhile, pointed out that Brunei is also cooperating with its neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, to conserve the three countries’ forests through the “Heart of Borneo” initiative. This is part of Brunei’s contribution towards mitigating the global effects of climate change.

His Majesty said Brunei appreciates Sri Lanka’s call for co-operation in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

His Majesty also noted that the theme for this year’s meeting, “Growth With Equity: Inclusive Development”, was most relevant, and that His Majesty appreciated the call to ensure that the people would benefit from all efforts in pursuing the development agenda.

Over the years, the Commonwealth has done well in addressing development-related issues, and member states have been pursuing similar goals through their national and regional plans, according to His Majesty. For instance, in addition to her own efforts, Brunei, along with other Asean member states, have placed emphasis upon carrying out people-oriented initiatives, in its goal for an Asean Community by 2015.

His Majesty believes that Asean can share its experiences and best practices, on how it implements its work programme on development-related issues, including attaining its Millennium Development Goals.

According to His Majesty, Brunei is encouraged by the Commonwealth’s ongoing programmes to facilitate and increase trade and investment.

“This is important, especially during this period of economic uncertainties, as countries need to sustain growth and integrate developing countries into the global economy.

“Towards this end, an equitable rules-based multilateral trading regime should also be maintained, in addition to bilateral and regional economic initiatives.

“In this regard, Brunei Darussalam wishes to reaffirm its commitment to work together to achieve a successful outcome at the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali.”

His Majesty pointed out that the Commonwealth serves as a network for cooperation among member states in promoting development. There is already a long established key mechanism in place to assist member countries, by sharing experiences and expertise, as well as enhancing capacity building, in the form of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), and member states should maintain their support for the CFTC.

His Majesty was of the view that the Commonwealth’s new Strategic Plan should also continue to effectively utilise other existing mechanisms within the structure, to contribute to the work on development, such as various ministerial meetings and accredited organisations, as well as the Secretariat.

His Majesty also congratulated Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka, on his chairmanship of 2013 CHOGM and expressed his appreciation for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements for the meeting. His Majesty also thanked Australia, the outgoing Chair, for the excellent work over the past two years.

Upon His Majesty’s arrival at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo, His Majesty was greeted by the Sri Lankan President and Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary General.

Soon after the opening ceremony of the 2014 CHOGM, His Majesty consented to join other leaders for a group photograph with His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who is the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth.

Accompanying His Majesty to the opening session and first executive session of the 2013 CHOGM were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office; and, Dato Paduka Haji Sidek bin Ali, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Sri Lanka, who resides in India. - Borneo Bulletin (16 November 2013)