President Richards, Head Of State Manning, President Museveni, Secretary-General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This ruby anniversary year is a vital time for the Commonwealth to recall– and, more notably, look onward. In doing so, I think we could be pleased with how far the Commonwealth has come in its 60years, and yet how true it has actually stayed to its origins. However this does not mean we ought to come to be complacent or hinge on previous successes. Like any kind of great company we have to continuously pay attention to things that give it unique personality.

In my sight one of the core strengths of the Commonwealth hinges on the dedication to usual objectives and also worths. Our shared pledge to “the quest of freedom, tranquility and also progress” that my daddy helped to enshrine in the London Declaration in 1949 means as much today as it did then. We cherish flexibility, freedom as well as development as very much as ever before.

Yet the Commonwealth’s strength lies as much in individuals as it does in values.

Couple of various other international organizations could boast the very same rich diversity of mankind and yet additionally such a commonality of spirit.

The Commonwealth could be proud of that in each of its six years, it has formed the worldwide action to emerging global obstacles.

And on this, the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has a possibility to lead when more. Several of those affected are amongst the most susceptible, as well as many of the individuals least well able to stand up to the unfavorable effects of Climate Change live in the Commonwealth.

A 2nd area of possibility for the Commonwealth is supporting its young people. Similar to environmental obstacles, this location is not brand-new; yet while the Commonwealth might rightly celebrate reaching its 60th wedding anniversary, the future of this association lies with the one billion that are under 25 years of age. The Commonwealth must reveal that it is relevant to as well as supportive of our young people who have to be encouraged that the Commonwealth could aid them to understand their ambitions.

Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, it is a satisfaction for me to be back in Trinidad as well as Tobago, and in the Caribbean. This region is dear to the Commonwealth.
For little island states, the buffeting of the economic tornados of the last twelve months has given a demanding examination; and also wonderful ingenuity has been received order to meet the difficulty. As an organization the Commonwealth must stay specialized to building strength amongst its smaller sized participants.

But it is inadequate to look within the limits of the Commonwealth. In a globe where political, environmental and also economic possibilities as well as troubles go across continents, the Commonwealth will certainly also need to show its relevance past its own boundaries as well as establish a genuinely global perspective.

The motto of Trinidad and Tobago claims: ‘Together we strive, with each other we achieve’. There can be no much better summary of the Commonwealth’s principles as well as no far better guideline for achieving this CHOGM’s stated goal of a more lasting and equitable future.

I hope the leaders right here present– educated by the Commonwealth Youth Forum, individuals’s Forum as well as business Forum held previously today– could map out the route for an additional sixty years of success.

And with these obstacles in mind I am pleased to declare open this twentieth conference of the Commonwealth Heads of Government.

The CPF is the Commonwealth People’s Forum, the largest gathering of Commonwealth civil society to come together every two years to debate and discuss the issues that affect them. These issues are then distilled into a communiqué and presented to Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at the Commonwealth heads of Government Meeting which takes place directly after the
CPF.

When is the 2009 CPF?
Sunday 22 – Thursday 26 November

Where will the CPF take place?
The Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre is the host venue for the CPF. The CPF Opening Ceremony will be hosted at Queen’s Hall. A help desk for CPF delegates will be operational at the Cascadia Hotel.

How often is the CPF organised?
Every two years, to coincide with the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Why have a CPF?

  • To raise the visibility of civil society in the Commonwealth;
  • To create partnerships in the quest for development and democracy and
    strengthen links between Commonwealth civil society organisations;
  • To create opportunities for dialogue between civil society and government
    ministers on priority issues in the Commonwealth; and
  • To provide opportunities for that dialogue to be raised and addressed at
    the CHOGM.

What is the theme?
The CPF theme is the same as that of the CHOGM: Partnering for a More Equitable and Sustainable Future.

Who attends the CPF?

  • Civil society
  • Civil Society Organisations / Non Governmental Organisations
  • Heads of government
  • Ministers
  • CHOGM delegates
  • Private sector representatives
  • Youth
  • Members of the public

What is the role of the CHOGM National Secretariat?
The CHOGM National Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation work together closely to coordinate and resource the CPF. The Secretariat provides the infrastructure required to stage a successful CPF, such as venues, audio visual equipment, transport and security. Overall, the Secretariat has responsibility for coordinating the CHOGM and all its parallel events.

What is the Civil Society Steering Committee?
The Civil Society Steering Committee is a group made up of civil society, CHOGM National Secretariat and Commonwealth Foundation representatives. The Committee regularly meets to provide input into the development of the CPF. The Committee is hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister and Chaired by Ms Beverly Beckles; CEO of the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities.

How many people can attend the CPF?
There is capacity for 500 delegates at the CPF.

How many CPF delegates will come from outside of Trinidad and Tobago?
Approximately 1 in 5 delegates are expected to attend from outside the host country; however this number is difficult to predict.

How do I get involved?
You can register to attend the CPF online at www.commonwealthfoundation.com from August 5 2009 – October 15 2009. Registration will close earlier if all the assemblies reach capacity before then so don’t delay! The number of participants is determined by the room size and is on a first come, first served basis. While you may only select one assembly for registration purposes, delegates are able to attend others should space permit.
If you do not have access to the online form, you can register at the office of the Local Host – Professional Centre, Unit 105/106 Fitz Blackman Drive, South Woodbrook, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago phone 627 4807. You can also register at the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), 7-21 New Street, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago phone 652 4880/657 3525.

What happens after I register?
Whether you register directly through the on-line system or using a paper form, you will receive an email from CF Events confirming your registration. This email includes details on how to pay the registration fee. You do not need to follow this up. Instructions regarding collection of registration passes will be communicated closer to the CPF.

What is the registration fee?
A registration fee of $100TT for host country delegates applies when paid prior to the CPF. If paid at the CPF, the fee increases to $120TT. The fee for delegates from outside of the host country is $100US or $120US if paid at the CPF.

Who collects my fee and what does it cover?
The fee is collected by the Commonwealth Foundation and is payable in three ways – directly to the Commonwealth Foundation, through the Local Host or at the CPF. The fee goes towards covering the considerable cost of catering for CPF delegates.

How do I collect my registration pass?
Passes will be issued by the CHOGM National Secretariat. Delegates who register prior to October 15 will receive their registration passes in time for the CPF. Delegates registering in special circumstances after October 15 will be redirected to onsite registration centres in Port of Spain upon their opening to obtain their pass.

Where are the Learning Journeys going to?
Five Learning Journeys will be travelling to projects across Trinidad and Tobago. Learning Journeys provide opportunities for CPF delegates to share experiences with colleagues from civil society in the host country. Learning Journeys will take place on Thursday 26 November 2009. Those listed below are confirmed and more details about them will be available closer to the CPF. CPF delegates can register for a Learning Journey upon arrival at the CPF on a first come first served basis. There is capacity for 150 delegates to attend the Learning Journeys.

  • Tobago: civil society networking opportunity hosted by Soroptimists International followed by visit to Buccoo     Reef with Buccoo Reef Trust
  • Civil society networking opportunity with Toco-based groups hosted by Toco Foundation
  • National Centre for Persons with Disabilities, Indian Caribbean Museum and TT Agri Business Association
  • Just Because Foundation and Export Centre
  • Santa Rosa Amerindian Community

If you miss out on a Learning Journey, you could attend a skills building workshop at the People’s Space, continue networking with your new civil society contacts, go shopping or book a private tour.

What transport is provided?
Complimentary transportation will be provided as follows:

  • To / from Piarco airport to CHOGM hotels from November 19-28
  • To / from CPF venue and other CPF venues where required
  • To / from Learning Journeys

What is the People’s Space?
An exciting aspect of the 2009 CHOGM is the People’s Space, taking place in the Queen’s Park Savannah. The People’s Space will be an open, interactive area and a hive of activity. Cultural performances, film, workshops and hands on activities will be central to the People’s Space. The People’s Space – is a free space, quite literally, for The People. Visitors to the People’s Space do not need to be registered delegates.

When will the People’s Space take place?
You can participate in the People’s Space from Monday 23 to Sunday 29 November, 2009.

The Challenge of Our Time

1.   Climate change is the predominant global challenge.  We convened a Special Session on Climate Change in Port of Spain to discuss our profound concern about the undisputed threat that climate change poses to the security, prosperity, economic and social development of our people.  For many it is deepening poverty and affecting the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. For some of us, it is an existential threat.

2.    We reaffirm our commitment to the Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan and its further implementation, in particular by contributing to the efforts of member states in transforming their economies and strengthening the capacity and voice of vulnerable groups.

3.    We recognise the unprecedented opportunity of our meeting just ahead of the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. We approach Copenhagen with ambition, optimism and determination. We welcome the attendance of leaders at the Copenhagen conference. The needs of the most vulnerable must be addressed.  Their voice must be heard and capacity to engage strengthened.  Many of us from small island states, low-lying coastal states and least developed countries face the greatest challenges, yet have contributed least to the problem of climate change.

4.    In keeping with the spirit of the theme of CHOGM 2009, `Partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future’, we warmly welcomed the United Nations Secretary General, the Prime Minister of Denmark and the President of France.

5.    We represent a third of the world’s population in all continents and oceans, and more than one quarter of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We have the global reach and diversity to help forge the inclusive global solutions needed to combat climate change.

6.    Science, and our own experience, tells us that we only have a few short years to address this threat. The average global temperature has risen because of the increase in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.  The latest scientific evidence indicates that in order to avoid dangerous climate change that is likely to have catastrophic impacts we must find solutions using all available avenues. We must act now.

7.    We believe an internationally legally binding agreement is essential.  We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process guided by the Danish Prime Minister and his efforts to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010.  In Copenhagen we commit to focus our efforts on achieving the strongest possible outcome.

Copenhagen and Beyond

8.    A global climate change solution is central to the survival of peoples, the promotion of development and facilitation of a global transition to a low emission development path. The agreement in Copenhagen must address the urgent needs of developing countries by providing financing, support for adaptation, technology transfer, capacity building, approaches and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

9.    In addition, we will strive to significantly increase technological and technology support to developing countries to facilitate the deployment and diffusion of clean technologies through a range of mechanisms.  We will work to facilitate and enable the transition to low-emission economies, climate resilience, and in particular, support, including through capacity building, for increasing the climate resilience of vulnerable economies.  We will also aim to develop cleaner, more affordable and renewable energy sources. We must explore global mechanisms through which those identified technologies can be disseminated as rapidly as possible.

10.    Ensuring the viability of states should underpin a shared vision for long-term cooperative action and a long-term global goal for emission reductions. In building towards an international agreement, all countries will need to play their part, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

11.    We need an ambitious mitigation outcome at Copenhagen to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change without compromising the legitimate development aspirations of developing countries.  We stress our common conviction that urgent and substantial action to reduce global emissions is needed and  have a range of views as to whether average global temperature increase should be constrained to below 1.5 degrees or to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. We also recognise the need for an early peaking year for global emissions. Developed countries should continue to lead on cutting their emissions, and developing countries, in line with their national circumstances, should also take action to achieve a substantial deviation from business-as-usual emissions including with financial and technical support , and also supported by technology and capacity building.

12.    Progress towards predictable and adequate finance for adaptation and mitigation measures must be achieved in any new multilateral approach. Public and private financial resources for developing countries will need to be scaled up urgently and substantially by 2020. We recognise that adaptation finance in particular should be targeted towards the poorest and most vulnerable countries. The provision of finance should be additional to existing official development assistance commitments. In this respect, we acknowledge the potential role of the private sector and carbon markets.

13.    In addition, we recognise the need for an early start to the provision for financial resources.  Fast start funding, constituting grant funding, should provide substantial support for adaptation, REDD plus  and clean technology.  We welcomed the initiative to establish, as part of a comprehensive agreement, a Copenhagen Launch Fund starting in 2010 and building to a level of resources of $10 billion annually by 2012.

Fast start funding for adaptation should be focused on the most vulnerable countries. We also welcomed a proposal to provide immediate, fast disbursing assistance with a dedicated stream for small island states, and associated low-lying coastal states of AOSIS  of at least 10% of the fund.

We also recognise the need for further, specified and comparable funding streams, to assist the poorest and most vulnerable countries, to cope with, and adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. We recognise that funding will be scaled up beyond 2012.

14.    We agree that an equitable governance structure to manage the financial and technological support must be put in place.  We agree that a future governance structure should provide for states to monitor and comply with arrangements entered under a new Copenhagen agreement.

What is the Commonwealth Youth Forum?

The Commonwealth Youth Forum, more popularly known as the “CYF”, is an event which brings together young people from the Commonwealth nations to discuss issues of contemporary importance, and enables them to identify their own agendas and prioritize issues of importance to youth. The CYF provides an independent platform for representatives of the Commonwealth member countries to consider the Youth agenda at the same time as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

What is the role of the National Secretariat for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting?

The National Secretariat for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Youth Program (CYP) and the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council (CYEC) coordinates and resources the CYF. The National Secretariat has overall responsibility for coordinating the CHOGM and all of its associated events.

What is the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council (CYEC)?

CYEC is a youth development Civil Society Organization (CSO) which believes young adults are an essential resource for the development of Commonwealth nations. The organization supports youth-led development activities and high quality community-based youth exchange. It promotes young people’s skills exchange, youth organization capacity-building and inter-change, and provides a platform for young people’s voices to be heard throughout the Commonwealth. CYEC is the founder, facilitator and supporter of the Commonwealth Youth Forum which has developed as a pan Commonwealth platform for young people to share concerns and recommendations with the wider Commonwealth at the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and beyond.

What is the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP)?

CYP works to engage and empower young people between the ages of 15 and 29 to enhance their contribution to development. The organization’s mission is grounded within a rights based approach, guided by the realities facing young people in the Commonwealth, and anchored in the belief that young people are:

  • A force for peace, democracy, equality and good governance;
  • A catalyst for global consensus building; and
  • An essential resource for poverty eradication and sustainable development.

How many CYF’s have been held in the past?

Commonwealth Youth Fora have been held alongside CHOGM gatherings in:

  • Edinburgh, Scotland in 1997;
  • Durban, South Africa in 1999;
  • Gold Coast, Australia in October, 2001;
  • Abuja, Nigeria in 2003;
  • Malta in November, 2005 and
  • Entebbe, Uganda in 2007

This year’s CYF will be the seventh and is therefore called “CYF7”

When will the CYF7 be held?

Saturday 21– Friday 27 November, 2009.

Where will the CYF7 be held?

CYF7 will be held in both Tobago and Trinidad respectively. From November 21-23, the Forum will be held in Tobago at Vanguard Holdings Limited, formerly Tobago Hilton and will continue in Trinidad from November 23-27 on the Caribbean Princess Cruise Ship.

How often is the CYF organized?

CYF is organized every two (2) years to coincide with the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Why have a CYF?

  • To develop young people’s understanding of the Commonwealth and its values;
  • To create a platform for young people to contribute to Commonwealth and CHOGM agendas; and
  • To promote networking and interchange between young people and their organisations.

What is the theme?

CYF7’s theme is: Invest in Youth, Sustain the World.

What will be the sub-themes discussed at CYF7?

  • Youth Involvement in Decision Making
  • Economic Crisis
  • Climate Change
  • Peace Building

Who attends the CYF?

  • Youth between the ages of 18 -29

How many people can attend the CYF7?

A total of 600 youth comprising both local and international delegates will attend the Forum

How many CYF7 delegates will come from outside of Trinidad and Tobago?

Approximately 150 international delegates are expected to attend.

What is the event schedule?

Friday 20th November

  • Arrivals
  • Registration
  • Welcome event

Saturday 21st November

  • Opening Ceremony
  • Orientation
  • Keynote Plenary – Invest in Youth, Sustain the World
  • Assembly 1

Sunday 22nd November

  • Thematic Plenary – Youth Involvement in Decision Making
  • Assembly 2
  • Cultural Night

Monday 23rd November

  • Learning Journeys
  • Sail to Trinidad
  • Registration and Check-in on Caribbean Princess

Tuesday 24th November

  • Plenary – Orientation
  • Thematic Plenary 2 – Promoting Economic Growth: Building Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Assembly 3
  • Thematic Plenary 3 – Peace Building
  • Assembly 4
  • Skills Building

Wednesday 25th November

  • Thematic Plenary 4 – Climate Change
  • Assembly 5
  • Presentation of Foreign Ministers Statement to Plenary
  • Skills Building 3
  • Foreign Ministers Dialogue
  • Action Plan Synchronization
  • Communiqué discussion

Thursday 26th November

  • Presentation of Action Plan – Networks and Individual
  • Skills Building 3
  • Closing Ceremony
  • Reception
  • Visit to Commonwealth People’s Forum: People’s Space

Friday 27th November

  • Evaluation Plenary
  • Creative Presentations
  • Sports
  • Shopping
  • Cultural Fiesta

CHOGM is an acronym for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It is held every two (2) years and brings together Commonwealth leaders to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and to agree upon collective policies and initiatives.

The CPF takes place in the week preceding CHOGM and is organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, together with civil society and the host government.

The CPF aims to raise the profile of civil society organisations and to strengthen links between them. It also seeks to create opportunities for dialogue between civil society and government ministers on priority issues in the Commonwealth.

Inputs from the People’s Forum are eventually presented to CHOGM at the round table with Foreign Ministers.

The CPF’s programme includes an opening plenary session, workshops on key issues and the CHOGM theme, field trips and the People’s Space, an interactive area with performances and mini-workshops, open to participants and visitors alike.