Colors: Blue Color

The Commonwealth Secretariat has launched an online database to help member countries be aware of and access more than US$170 million of international funding available for ocean-related projects.

Accompanying this new web tool is a handbook containing valuable guidance on how to navigate the database, as well as match and pitch projects to the most suitable funders. Both the website and handbook were designed specifically to support the work of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, a historic commitment made in 2018 by all 54 Commonwealth member nations to work actively together to solve ocean challenges.

Welcoming the initiative, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Despite the central role of the ocean in our natural ecosystems, climate systems, economies and cultures, funding for ocean conservation is equivalent to less than one percent of global philanthropy, and an even smaller fraction of foreign aid.

“The Commonwealth Blue Charter Ocean Funders Database represents a major step forward for ocean action in the Commonwealth, which aims to support member countries to navigate the funding that is currently available internationally, understand the goals, criteria, and application processes for different prospective funders, and develop successful multilateral partnerships for greater ocean action.”

Under the Commonwealth Blue Charter, countries collaborate through voluntary ‘action groups’ on 10 key ocean issues: marine plastic pollution, coral reef protection, mangrove restoration, climate change, ocean acidification, ocean observation, marine protected areas, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable coastal fisheries and the sustainable blue economy.

Over the past year, the 10 action groups have been setting out priorities and shared action plans, taking into account regional and resource needs. The new funding database will support them in finding resources and partners to implement joint projects across these action areas, such as developing legal frameworks for progressive ocean policies, conducting sought-after capacity building programmes and training courses, and supporting innovation.

Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the action groups have ramped up efforts to network and share solutions, through research, virtual dialogues and training, with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Commonwealth health ministers have issued a joint statement after their annual meeting in which they called for swift and equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone around the world.

In the statement on behalf of the 54 Commonwealth member countries, they expressed deep concern over the stark gaps in access and delivery of doses, especially in poor countries, and called for “fair and transparent” pricing for the vaccine. Only 0.3 per cent of the life-saving vaccine doses have been administered in 29 poor countries. About 84 per cent of shots have been given in high and upper-middle-income countries.

Speaking at the meeting, the Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: “The science is clear: vaccination works and is the clear and only sustainable route out of this pandemic for the whole world.

“The rise of new variants shows that until everyone is safe no one is safe. No plan to tackle this virus will work until everyone agrees to work together. We must talk with each other to move away from some stockpiling vaccines, while many low-middle income countries still do not have access to the much-needed vaccines supplies for the vulnerable populations in their countries.

“So, co-operation to develop a global immunisation plan to deliver equal access to vaccines must be a top priority.” Health ministers appreciated the global vaccine equity initiative ‘COVAX’ and encouraged all partners to support government efforts on boosting vaccine confidence and immunisation drives.

Recognising the acute gaps in research and development of new tests, vaccines and therapies in the Commonwealth, they stressed enhanced collaboration with scientists, academics and business leaders.

In his guest address, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Vaccines are reducing severe disease and death in countries that are fortunate enough to have them in sufficient quantities, and early results suggest that vaccines might also drive down transmission.

“The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic. We seek the support of the Commonwealth in solving the global vaccine crisis by funding the ACT Accelerator, advocating for greater sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property, and sharing doses with COVAX.”

Ministers further backed a potential treaty on the fight against pandemics and a Commonwealth mechanism to share and distribute extra medical supplies such as ventilators and medicines. They called on Heads of Government to allocate resources for strengthening health systems, especially through primary health care, towards attaining universal health coverage.

Chairing the meeting, India’s Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said: “Accelerating coordinated action for ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and building resilient global healthcare systems is the need of the hour.

“In our closely interlinked world, we need greater transparency to quickly identify and contain emerging health threats. Sharing best practices, strategies and solutions shall ensure preparedness against all future challenges.”

Health ministers welcomed the creation of a technical group to share practical solutions and policy advice on helping countries with the pandemic response and recovery. New data shows 60 immunisation campaigns for other health threats are currently suspended in 50 countries due to COVID-19. Such delays could cause significant avoidable mortality.

Disruptions to HIV/AIDS services, for instance, could lead to five thousand excess deaths globally.
Ministers, therefore, committed to keeping essential health services running and sustaining the gains made towards tackling threats such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, avoidable blindness and non-communicable diseases while dealing with an influx of COVID-19 cases. In their statement, they further voiced their support for a common framework for sovereign debt treatments, co-operation with the WHO and improved compliance with the International Health Regulation - international laws for preventing the spread of disease.

This is the second time that Commonwealth health ministers met virtually for their annual gathering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting, hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat, took place on 20 and 21 May.

Wolverhampton has retained its Fairtrade City status for a 17th successive year.

Achieving Fairtrade City status is recognition of Wolverhampton's ongoing commitment to supporting Fairtrade and using licensed products with the Fairtrade Mark. The city received notification of the accolade from the Fairtrade Foundation in recognition of the achievements and hard work of Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership over the last few years.

The Fairtrade Foundation cited the efforts made by the Partnership to engage with people through workplaces, schools, places of worship and local community organisations, the continued promotion of Fairtrade products and the support of local businesses and the city’s Mayor, Councillor Claire Darke. They were particularly impressed with the number of people who have been reached through the work of the Partnership, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mayor Councillor Darke said: “Achieving Fairtrade City status is an amazing success, with Wolverhampton now having held this recognition for 17 years running. The accolade is testament to the dedication of the Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership, local residents and Fairtrade supporters. I congratulate everyone involved.”

Barbara Gwinnett, Chair of Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership, added: “We’re delighted to mark the 17th year of the city’s Fairtrade status with its renewal this year. 

“In 2019 we demonstrated that we were firmly established in the city, promoting Fairtrade across a range of organisations and agencies and holding talks and events each month. In March 2020 we had to cease outward facing activities due to the coronavirus pandemic, but carried on with our meetings online and held an online presentation during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021.

“During this period, Partnership members have worked with and support the work of the Wolverhampton Fairtraid shop as they have found innovative ways to continue to sell Fairtrade items to their customers. We look forward to picking up links and moving forward once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted.”

The Second Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Forum concluded today with strong recommendations for member countries to work together to fast-track an inclusive, just and equitable transition to low-carbon energy systems across the Commonwealth.

The biennial gathering, held virtually, explored practical solutions to help meet global commitments on energy made under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Participants discussed new low-carbon technologies, addressing the high cost of technology and need for better access to finance, as well as policy recommendations that promote sustainability in the electricity, transport, cooling and cooking sectors.

Opening at the event, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We must urgently step up our action to implement the Paris Agreement and achieve our commitments on sustainable energy. While the transition pathways may differ across Commonwealth countries, the move to clean energy systems is a common goal.

“The pace of the energy transition needs urgent acceleration for which strong political will and ambition by Commonwealth member countries is required. Governments need to establish the enabling frameworks to attract finance, scale up technology and lower costs for energy transitions.” She encouraged a “people-centred” approach that is inclusive and leaves no one behind.

Countries were invited to lead ‘action groups’ focused on three key pillars, which make up the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition agenda: Inclusive Energy Transitions; Technology and Innovation; and Enabling Frameworks. Countries also called for more collaboration on sharing knowledge, technologies and innovative solutions, including best practices on research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies in critical sectors, such as clean cooking and cooling.

The event featured presentations by experts in the field as well as in-depth country presentations from Australia, Barbados, Botswana, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom. While discussions showed various countries are at different stages of the transitioning to using sustainable forms of energy, there was a consensus about its critical importance and learning from the experiences of other members.

Delegates further acknowledged the challenges linked to energy transition, especially for economies that depend heavily on fossil fuels as a key source of income. Outcomes of the forum meeting will feed into Commonwealth contributions to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Energy scheduled for September 2021, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 26 in November 2021 and the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, next week (May 19).

Faithful to its tradition, the Excelencias Group will be handing out the 2020 Excelencias Awards at the Madrid International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR 2021, on May 19, at 4:45 p.m. Madrid time, Spain, on the very same day of the opening of Spain's premier tourism event. The awards ceremony will be held in the Auditorio Sur of the IFEMA fairgrounds.
The EXCELENCIAS AWARDS were created 16 years ago by the Excelencias Group to promote excellence in different fields related to tourism, gastronomy and culture in Ibero-America.

These awards have become a benchmark in the fields of tourism and gastronomy in Ibero-America. Once again, the event will take place at FITUR, Madrid, Spain.

EXCELENCIAS TURÍSTICAS AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects from 12 countries (Spain, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico). Ministers, Governors, Secretaries of Tourism, General Directors and international tourism personalities will be present.
EXCELENCIAS GOURMET AWARDS: Awards will be presented to projects/individuals from 5 countries. (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain, Costa Rica and Colombia) We will have the presence of personalities from the international gastronomic field.
SPECIAL EXCELENCIAS AWARDS: SPIRIT OF EXCELENCIA: Global excellence of a project category. CARIBBEAN NEWS DIGITAL: Tourism Personality of 2020. RAMÓN ÁLVAREZ AWARD: MICE category. NICOLÁS MUELA AWARD: Ibero-American Gastronomy Category. SILVIA ZORZANELLO AWARD: Brazil Category.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has today published the second of three reports as part of its inquiry into the constitutional implications of COVID-19, looking at the impact of the pandemic on Parliament.  

The report considers the significant challenges for the operation of Parliament since the start of the pandemic. In particular it focuses on the House of Lords and the difficulties it has faced in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities of holding the Government to account and scrutinising legislation adequately - as well as the opportunities presented by the short-term changes in response to COVID-19.

Hybrid proceedings

The report outlines the impact on the House of Lords, with particular reference to hybrid proceedings, which has resulted in the House's essential scrutiny role, which was already in need of strengthening, become less effective. This is particularly significant given the nature of the emergency powers the Government used - an issue that will be considered further in the committee's next report.   

The committee has called on the Government to prioritise Parliament when making significant policy announcements, regarding the pandemic and more generally, as well as ensuring that departments are adequately resourced to respond fully to questions in a timely manner. 

The report also highlights, however, that the impact of virtual proceedings and remote voting has presented an opportunity to do things differently and better in the longer-term. 

Longer-term resilience of Parliament

The report recommends that the House administration should continue to develop its capacity and capability to support virtual proceedings in case this is required to support Parliament's future business continuity arrangements or the restoration of the Palace of Westminster.  

The report also recommends the House of Lords Commission conduct a lessons learned exercise regarding Parliament's response to the pandemic, as part of revising its business continuity plans. 

The committee goes on to say that the apparent lack of support from the Government for the restoration and renewal programme is regrettable. Parliament has demonstrated resilience in the face of the pandemic yet the continued deterioration of the Palace of Westminster increases the risk of both Houses being forced to resort to virtual methods of working in future. 

Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Chair of the Constitution Committee said: “Despite the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts of staff from across Parliament and the members of the House of Lords Commission and Procedure and Privileges Committee ensured that the House of Lords continued fulfilling its constitutional role so far as circumstances permitted. The speed of Parliament's response to the pandemic was all the more remarkable considering that its plans had to be developed from scratch and we commend everyone involved. 

“As Parliament emerges from COVID-19, the House of Lords should reflect on its experiences during the pandemic and consider how it can fulfil its role more effectively once things return to normal. 

“We recognise the Procedure and Privileges Committee and the House of Lords as a whole will want to consider the merits of retaining aspects of hybrid proceedings and new voting arrangements as options after the pandemic. We welcome the benefits remote proceedings have brought and recommend that those considerations should take into account the impact of any retention on the effectiveness of the House in discharging its constitutional roles of scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account, inclusivity and business continuity”. 


Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism David Collado along with 15 more ministers and vice ministers of tourism of the Americas established partnership agreements and procedures for relaunching tourism in the region in a meeting called by the World Tourism Organization and led in its inauguration by Luis Abinader, President of Dominican Republic.

Tourism leaders in the Americas committed to jointly addressing the reactivation of tourism, making the sector a priority and adopting international protocols. Additionally, they agreed to emphasize innovation and digital transformation, develop sustainable tourism and strengthen support mechanisms for workers and impacted companies.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili commended the way Dominican Republic has handled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted that “reestablishing trust in travel is a key first step towards tourism recovery, bringing hope to millions of people in the Americas and igniting the economic recuperation in general.”

In his welcome to the Tourism ministers and representatives from throughout the Americas, President Luis Abinader highlighted the role of UNWTO as a catalyst for innovation and synergies and called on those present to strengthen themselves as a shared destination and as a region through unity, determination, focus and joint vision.

Reestablishing trust in travel is a key first step towards tourism recovery, bringing hope to millions of people in the Americas and igniting the economic recuperation in general

Minister Collado stressed that the tourism sector generates employment opportunities for more than 500,000 families and contributes 15% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, he endorsed the commitment "with the Dominicans, with sector partners and with the millions of tourists who are eagerly waiting to visit and know the beautiful destinations within Dominican Republic."

Among the main topics of discussion included re-establishing confidence in travel, protecting businesses and jobs, and ensuring that the benefits of the tourism revival are felt beyond the industry itself. The working sessions were attended in person by ministers and vice ministers of Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela, and virtually by government officials from Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua, and Peru.

The meetings were developed with the coordination of the host country through the Ministry of Tourism of Dominican Republic, with the participation of representatives of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Association of Hotels and Tourism of Dominican Republic, among other sector organizations.

The summit ended with attendees signing the Declaration of Punta Cana which sealed the commitment of the regional leaders to make tourism a pillar of sustainable development and ensure an effective recovery plan post-COVID.

Lily Adeleye is once again making history at the age of 6. As the founder of Lily Frilly, a popular girl's fashion brand, she is now the youngest entrepreneur to have a brand being sold in Walmart stores. It comes just barely one year she made history as the youngest person to have her products sold in Target stores nationwide.

Her Florida-based company recently launched exclusive designs of the brand's products into 1,102 Walmart stores and on their website. The new colourful and stylish hair bow designs include Gold & Glitter, Galaxy Girl, Safari Party, and Candy Rush.

Lily and her mother, Courtney Adeleye, who is also an entrepreneur, are both excited about their second historic retailer launch. They hope the brand could inspire other little girls to dream big and be confident to achieve it, while at the same time keeping their cuteness.

"Lily Frilly started out as a brand my daughter Lily and myself created, as I have always believed it's important to let your children follow their passions, whether that be art, sports or in this case, growing a business," Courtney said in a statement.

"Now, Lily Frilly has become so much more than just that – it's become a brand children love, as well as a symbol of inspiration and confidence for young girls as well as for the black community. It's amazing to see what kids can do, and we're so glad Walmart is providing this platform to give Lily Frilly the room and attention it warrants."

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a 10-year old boy who lives in New York, is now officially a U.S. National Chess Master. It is a dream come true for the boy who won the New York State chess championship while living in a homeless shelter when he was just 8-years old.

Most recently, Adewumi won his latest championship when he ultimately earned a chess rating of 2223. The United States National Chess Master title is given to players who reached a rating of over 2200 points accrued from games, which Adewumi achieved.

It came just 2 years after Adewumi gained national attention in winning the National State chess championship. He learned chess just within a year after he and his family arrived in the US in 2017 as they fled from Nigeria due to fears of terrorist attacks.

During their first years in New York City, his family was living in a homeless shelter near a school where there was a chess program. When several people learned about his situation, a GoFundMe fundraiser was launched and eventually raised $254,000, which helped them move to a better home where they currently reside.

Last year, a biography called My Name is Tani based on his life was published and is set to be produced as a film with Paramount Pictures.

As India battles a major coronavirus wave, there's concern about rising infection levels in neighbouring countries.

Travel and other restrictions have been introduced amid fears that poorly resourced local health services will be unable to cope. In India, daily case numbers and deaths began rising in March and then surged dramatically.

India's immediate neighbours have also seen numbers rising - although on different trajectories. There's particular concern about Nepal, which saw sharply rising infections in April.

Nepal shares a 1,880km (1,168 mile) land border with India, and many people regularly cross it for business, tourism and family reasons. It was reported that the country's former king Gyanendra had tested positive after making a visit to India, although it's not clear where he caught the virus.

In March, the Nepalese authorities brought in additional health checks at border crossings, finally closing more than 20 crossing points on May 1. Restrictions were imposed in the Kathmandu valley area on April 29.

Bangladesh saw case numbers rising from early March, and brought in a national lockdown on April 5 (which has now been extended to May 16). The land border with India was also closed to passenger traffic for two weeks from April 26, although some people are still being allowed to cross.

Daily reported cases in Bangladesh have come down significantly since then. In Pakistan, cases and deaths have also risen sharply, leading to fears about the strain on the health service. Border restrictions have been imposed for travellers from India, and from Afghanistan and Iran


Sri Lanka has also seen a sudden surge in case numbers since mid-April, leading it to close schools in some areas, restrict religious gatherings and ban travel from India. There are fears that India variants may be partly to blame for growing case numbers in neighbouring countries.

Health experts are looking at whether one of these types of variant might be more transmissible. But it's also possible that new infections could be linked to variants from elsewhere, such as the UK one.

Nepal sent 15 samples collected two months ago to a WHO-certified lab in Hong Kong, which discovered the UK variant in nine of them and the India variant in one. And in Pakistan, genome sequencing in April found the UK variant was present in a majority of samples.

The health authorities in the southern province of Sindh have also identified the presence of the South Africa and Brazil variants. The South Africa variant has also been found in Bangladesh.

The limited testing and relatively high positive numbers coming back means the true extent of infection is not being mapped. Doctors, health experts and others have also pointed out that public adherence to Covid safety measures has slipped over time, with mixed messages coming from political leaders.

In Pakistan, doctors struggling with growing case numbers and limited hospital facilities have even spoken of their relief that the army was being used to help enforce social distancing and other measures. The slow rate of vaccinations is a major concern.

Countries in the region began rolling out vaccines in January, but they are not yet widespread enough to make a real difference.

Nepal has administered about 7.2 doses per 100 people, Bangladesh 5.4, Sri Lanka 4.8, Pakistan one, and Afghanistan 0.6, according to the latest data. In the UK, it's about 76 doses per 100, in the US about 75, in the European Union nearly 37 and in China more than 20.

Nepal and Sri Lanka had to stop their vaccination drives at one point until they received donations of the Sinopharm vaccine from China. Pakistan has also turned to both Chinese and Russian vaccines to try to boost its vaccination programme.

A new £1billion UK-India trade and investment deal presents a “fantastic opportunity” for businesses to get UK intellectual property out into more markets. That’s the view of Jason Wouhra, president of Asian Business Chamber of Commerce and chief executive of Lioncroft Wholesale Ltd, reacting to news that the UK and India have agreed on a trade and investment package as well as an Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP).

The deal will include more than £533 million of new Indian investment in the UK, in vital sectors such as health and technology. Government has said that the package is expected to create 6,500 new UK jobs.

The ETA sets the ambition to double the value of UK-India bilateral trade by 2030. Mr Wouhra said that the deal will help bolster the UK and India’s economies. He said: “I really welcome the news that the UK is massively bolstering its trade ties with India, via this new £1billion trade and investment deal.

“This announcement shows just how important it is to trade with Commonwealth partners, especially with India as it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Trade and investment opportunities,, such as this one with India, presents a fantastic opportunity to get our intellectual property, our inventions, our technology into more markets.

“Investments in the health and low carbon sectors, confirmed in the government’s announcement, will be of particular value to businesses in the West Midlands, where these industries thrive. India and the UK already have incredibly strong trade ties, and this £1billion trade and investment package will help bolster both economies and expose UK-made products and intellectual property around the world.

“Despite this trade announcement, India is indeed facing an enormous challenge fighting Covid. The current Covid challenges in India are distressing for the world at large and especially for those with connections and families in the country.

It is essential for us all to be globally united in the fight against Covid, we all know individuals who have been affected by this ghastly virus and our support of communities in India will be invaluable to help them improve the current situation the country is in. 

“The UK is doing its part to help India overcome these challenges, supplying critical medical supplies and aid.  In recent days we have seen momentous efforts being made by UK communities, charities and government to assist India in its fight against Covid.

“The way that the UK has stepped up and mobilised quickly to help India demonstrates our generosity and willingness to assist our friends in the Commonwealth. We, as a country, must continue to display this generosity wherever possible in future.

“Despite these challenges, the UK-India bilateral trade news announced today presents fresh hope for future prosperity between our two nations.” Mr Wouhra also backed Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s call for urgent clarity on social distancing and Covid travel restrictions, following comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that there may be some “opening up” of foreign travel on 17 May, but urged for caution.

He said: “I support the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and its call for clarity on social distancing measures and foreign travel announcements. While it is essential for our economy to get moving again, this must be done safely.

“Many businesses, such as hospitality and non-essential retail, have suffered a great deal from this crisis. We need to do everything we can to help businesses get back on their feet, 

 “Our vaccination rollout, in my view, has been one of the best in the world and many are looking forward to brighter days ahead.

“But we cannot let our businesses down now, we need clarity from government quickly on social distancing and travel plans so that we don’t continue to stifle our economy that has been so badly damaged.”

His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, are today announcing the postponement of CHOGM 2021 as a result of the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments including with the World Health Organization (WHO) and their risk assessment tool, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the decision has been made to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time.
Speaking on the postponement, President Kagame said: “The decision to postpone CHOGM for a second time has not been taken lightly. The health and welfare of all Commonwealth citizens at this critical time must take precedence. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM at the appropriate time.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said: “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods.
“And while it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time to discuss many of these critical issues, we must be mindful of the huge risks large meetings pose to all.
“I want to thank the Government and people of Rwanda for their professionalism, support, patience and their impeccable readiness to hold CHOGM. And I want to thank all our member countries and, in particular, the United Kingdom as our Chair-in-Office and India, who have suffered so grievously in these trying times. I look forward warmly to a time when we can be reunited with the Commonwealth family, face-to-face, in Rwanda when the conditions allow for us to do so safely and securely.”


International wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation, believes Report on lions, rhinos, elephants and leopards signals the end of globally condemned practice of canned lion hunting.

This weekend, South Africa’s Environment Minister Barbara Creecy, spelled out a new direction for the country and its efforts to conserve some of the world’s most iconic species. Based on the conclusions of the 600 page High Level Panel Report which took on board wide stakeholder evidence and the views of national and international experts, including Born Free, who participated in the 2018 Parliamentary Colloquium on lion farming, the Ministerial Statement sets out a road map for change in the years ahead.

“South Africa may be standing on the verge of a new, more wildlife-friendly future” comments Will Travers OBE, co-founder and Executive President at Born Free. Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones added “We applaud the Panel and the Minister for seeking to draw a line under an issue that has for so long blighted South Africa’s reputation.”

There are an estimated 300 lion-breeding facilities in South Africa holding perhaps 10,000 captive-bred lions. Minister Creecy stated: “The High-Level Panel identified that the captive lion breeding industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation resulting from the negative impact on ecotourism, which funds lion conservation and conservation more broadly, the negative impact on the authentic wild hunting industry, and the risk that trade in lion parts poses to stimulating poaching and illegal trade”.

The use of leopard skins for religious and cultural purposes makes leopard hunting a complex matter to resolve. Restricting the killing of leopards to problem animals, as has been previously proposed, leaves the process open to interpretation and ongoing abuse. Born Free believes that the hunting of leopards, even if it is more narrowly defined, should be halted. Only animals that represent a direct and verifiable threat to human life should be subject to human intervention, with lethal intervention being the last resort.

Rhino horn trade will undoubtedly dominate the work of the proposed Rhino Committee of Inquiry. However, the issues are clear. Rhino ranchers who wish to sell rhino horn are currently only able to do so legally at national level and this has proved far less lucrative than they had hoped. International rhino horn trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endanger Species of Fauna and Flora - and every time proposals have been brought forward to seek approval for limited trade they have, quite rightly, been soundly defeated.

International law-makers and most conservation experts agree that any easing of the current restrictions is likely to stimulate demand and result in increased poaching pressure on wild rhino populations across Africa and Asia. Born Free hopes that the Rhino Committee of Inquiry will conclude that international trade should not be contemplated, that national sales should once more be prohibited through the introduction of a carefully constructed moratorium which will withstand legal challenge, and that a comprehensive package of financial support should be offered to conservancies with wild rhino to help offset their significant security costs.

South Africa has consistently aligned itself with the minority of African elephant range countries who seek to relax current rules which prohibit the international sale of ivory. However, that may be about to change with the High Level Panel signalling that South Africa may, at least, wish to significantly pause in its pursuit of ivory sales. The majority of African Elephant Range States, as represented by the African Elephant Coalition, together with wildlife organisations such as Born Free, have long argued that sporadic ‘one off’ ivory sales, or even talk of such sales, fuels speculative poaching which, according to some, accounts for one elephant being poached every 15 minutes.

At the same time, many destination/consumer countries, including the USA, China, the UK and others, have tightened or all but eliminated domestic sales of ivory, while increasing their law enforcement efforts. It really is time to take speculation about a future, legal, international ivory trade off the table.

However, it is on lions that the Minister has been most progressive, perhaps in response to not only national but international pressure, informed by films such as the multi-award-winning Blood Lions. The evidence provided by Born Free, amongst others, has made the despicable practice of breeding lions in captivity by the thousand for exploitation and inevitable execution, as part of the canned hunting industry, a truly toxic activity.

Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy, stated: “For many years we have called for an end to South Africa’s cruel and cynical predator breeding industry, which breeds thousands of lions and other predators for the sole purpose of generating profits through bogus tourist activities, canned hunting, and the export of lion bones and other products.

“Our award-winning animation The Bitter Bond, seen by over 11 million people worldwide, helped bring lion breeding and canned hunting to international attention, and resulted in nearly a quarter of a million people signing our petition calling on the South African authorities to bring a humane end to the industry. It seems the authorities have listened to us and the many others who have campaigned on this issue. We applaud the Panel and the Minister for seeking to draw a line under an issue that has for so long blighted South Africa’s reputation.”

Will Travers, Born Free’s co-founder and Executive President, concluded: “While the issue of trophy hunting remains highly contentious, Minister Creecy has made some brave decisions, but it is important that she is not alone.

“Born Free and others, with decades of experience in captive animal care and international wildlife trade, stand ready to engage with her directly to offer advice and insights as to how to take matters forward and, in particular, bring the dreadful canned lion hunting industry to a compassionate and humane end. South Africa may be standing on the verge of a new, more wildlife-friendly future.”

A 25-year-old Malian woman has given birth to nine babies - two more than doctors had detected during scans.

Halima Cisse gave birth to the nonuplets in Morocco. Mali's government flew her there for specialist care. A woman who had eight babies in the US in 2009 holds the Guinness World Record for the most children delivered at a single birth to survive.

Two sets of nonuplets have previously been recorded - one born to a woman in Australia in 1971 and another to a woman in Malaysia in 1999 - but none of the babies survived more than a few days. World record holder Nadya Suleman's octuplets have grown up and are now 12 years old.

She conceived them through in vitro fertilisation. Mali's health minister, Fanta Siby, congratulated the medical teams in both countries for the happy outcome.

Ms Cisse's pregnancy became a subject of fascination in Mali - even when it was thought she was only carrying septuplets. Doctors in the West African nation had been concerned for her welfare and the chances of the babies' survival - so the government intervened.

After a two-week stay in a hospital in Mali's capital, Bamako, the decision had been made to move Ms Cisse to Morocco on 30 March, Dr Siby said. After five weeks at the Moroccan clinic, she gave birth by Caesarean section on Tuesday, the minister said.

Her husband Adjudant Kader Arby is still in Mali with the couple's older daughter, but he says he has been in constant touch with his wife in Morocco and says he is not worried about the family's future. He said: "I'm very happy.

“My wife and the babies - five girls and four boys - are doing well. God gave us these children.” He said the family has been overwhelmed by the support they have received.

“Even the Malian authorities called to express their joy. I thank them… Even the president called me."

The mother and her new nine babies are expected to return home soon.

It is 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland. And it is an anniversary that is seen in different ways by differing people following the historic decision to divide up the island of Ireland.

Marking the occasion in history, UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson is planning a series of events including a special postmark, the planting of tree and a centenary concert. But the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill has said that there is nothing to celebrate.

As a divided nation, the Catholic community do not want Northern Ireland to be governed as part of the UK – rather seeing the island of Ireland return to being all one country which governs itself. Contrary to that, the unionist Protestant community want Northern Ireland to maintain a British identity and remain as part of the UK.

Following centuries of division on the island of Ireland, it was from 1969 that 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland known as 'The Troubles' saw more than three thousand people die in ongoing conflicts until a peace agreement, known as the Good Friday Agreement, was signed in 1998 which largely brought an end to the violence. Many Unionists are unhappy that the Brexit deal, however, has created different trade rules for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, saying it undermines their British identify.

The UK government is to spend £3m on events marking the centenary of Northern Ireland with images of 1972 Olympic gold medal winner Lady Mary Peters and 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Seamus Heaney to feature in branding for Our Story in the Making: NI Beyond 100. The government has also announced the creation of a Shared History Fund, making £1m available to support events connected to the centenary run by community, heritage, voluntary and other non-profit organisations.

After fulfilling his promise to bring America back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden convened 40 world leaders in a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate this week to rally the world in tackling the climate crisis and meeting the demands of science. The United States and other countries announced ambitious new climate targets ensuring that nations accounting for half of the world’s economy have now committed to the emission reductions needed globally to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees C within reach. Many leaders underscored the urgency of other major economies strengthening their ambition as well on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November 2021 in Glasgow.

The Summit, which was the largest virtual gathering of world leaders, convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (the world’s 17 largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters) and included the leaders of other countries especially vulnerable to climate impacts or charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy. President Biden was joined at the Summit by Vice President Harris, members of the President’s Cabinet, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, as well as senior representatives of other countries and leaders from business and civil society. The full agenda and list of participants is available at:

With the science telling us that the world needs to significantly increase the scale and speed of climate action, President Biden considered it vital to host this Summit within his first 100 days in office to make clear that it is a top U.S. priority to combat the climate crisis at home and abroad.

Vice President Harris opened the Summit by emphasizing the intertwined imperatives of addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and protecting the most vulnerable communities. Her remarks set the stage for the launch of the Summit’s five sessions, which were live-streamed: [].

President Biden began Session 1 (“Raising Our Climate Ambition”) by framing enhanced climate action as necessary both to address the crisis and to promote economic opportunity, including the creation of good-paying, union jobs. He told Summit participants that the United States will halve its greenhouse gas emissions within this decade, noting that countries that take decisive action now will reap the economic benefits of a clean energy future. To enshrine this commitment, the United States submitted a new “nationally determined contribution” (NDC) under the Paris Agreement setting an economy-wide emissions target of a 50-52% reduction below 2005 levels in 2030. Secretary of State Blinken conveyed a strong sense of urgency in tackling the climate crisis, noting that this is a critical year and a decisive decade to take action. He noted the U.S. resolve to work with other countries to engage in all avenues of cooperation to “save our planet.” 

Participants noted the need to work rapidly over the course of this decade to accelerate decarbonization efforts and are taking a range of actions to that end. Announcements during this Session included, among others:                                                                                       

·         Japan will cut emissions 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030, with strong efforts toward achieving a 50% reduction, a significant acceleration from its existing 26% reduction goal.

·         Canada will strengthen its NDC to a 40-45% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, a significant increase over its previous target to reduce emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

·         India reiterated its target of 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and announced the launch of the “U.S.-India 2030 Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership” to mobilize finance and speed clean energy innovation and deployment this decade.

·         Argentina will strengthen its NDC, deploy more renewables, reduce methane emissions, and end illegal deforestation.

·         The United Kingdom will embed in law a 78% GHG reduction below 1990 levels by 2035.

·         The European Union is putting into law a target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and a net zero target by 2050.

·         The Republic of Korea, which will host the 2021 P4G Seoul Summit in May, will terminate public overseas coal finance and strengthen its NDC this year to be consistent with its 2050 net zero goal.

·         China indicated that it will join the Kigali Amendment, strengthen the control of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, strictly control coal-fired power generation projects, and phase down coal consumption.

·         Brazil committed to achieve net zero by 2050, end illegal deforestation by 2030, and double funding for deforestation enforcement.

·         South Africa announced that it intends to strengthen its NDC and shift its intended emissions peak year ten years earlier to 2025.

·         Russia noted the importance of carbon capture and storage from all sources, as well as atmospheric carbon removals. It also highlighted the importance of methane and called for international collaboration to address this powerful greenhouse gas.

Session 2 (“Investing in Climate Solutions”) addressed the urgent need to scale up climate finance, including both efforts to increase public finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries and efforts to catalyse trillions of dollars of private investment to support the transition to net zero emissions no later than 2050. President Biden stressed the importance of developed countries meeting the collective goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year in public and private finance to support developing countries. He also announced that the Administration intends to seek funding to double, by 2024, annual U.S. public climate finance to developing countries, compared to the average level of the second half of the Obama-Biden Administration (FY 2013-2016). This would include tripling public finance for adaptation by 2024. President Biden also called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and announced that his Administration will undertake a series of steps to promote the measurement, disclosure, and mitigation of material climate risks to the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Yellen highlighted the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the transition. She also said that the Treasury Department will use all its tools and expertise to help support climate action. Special Envoy Kerry moderated a discussion among leaders from government, international organizations, and multilateral and private financial institutions. These leaders noted the importance of concessional finance to leverage much larger sums of private capital, as well as to provide finance to technologies, activities, and geographies where private capital is not flowing. They noted the urgent need to increase finance for adaptation and resilience in developing countries. The participants also recognized the need for governments to embrace key policies, including meaningful carbon pricing, enhanced disclosure of climate-related risks, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Several of the private financial institutions expressed their support for coalitions such as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero and the Net Zero Banking Alliance. They also referred to recent commitments by U.S. banks to invest $4.16 trillion in climate solutions over the next ten years.

Session 3 elevated four specific topics for more focused consideration by government officials and, in some cases, a broader range of stakeholders. 

·         The discussion on climate action at all levels, hosted by U.S. EPA Administrator Regan and including participation from a wide range of governors, mayors, and indigenous leaders from around the world, illustrated the importance of marshalling a multi-level “all-of-society” approach to climate action. The Session showcased States, cities, and indigenous groups that are committed to an equitable vision for advancing bold climate ambition and building resilience on the ground. Participants discussed the critical importance of building just and inclusive societies and economies as they accelerate efforts to transform their communities in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Participants discussed not only the importance of leadership at all levels of society and government, but also the importance of collaboration between national and subnational governments to catalyse additional ambition.

·         The discussion on adaptation and resilience, hosted by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, focused on innovative ways in which countries from a wide variety of regions are responding to climate change in the areas of water and coastal management, food security, and human impacts. On the theme of coastal and water management, panellists offered up innovative solutions to prepare for water-related climate challenges, such as locally-owned disaster insurance instruments, relocation, and the use of green and blue bonds to finance nature-based solutions. Focusing on food security and climate, participants highlighted the need for better technology to address a changing agricultural landscape as well as the importance of supporting small-scale farmers. On human health and security, the discussion centred on scaling up locally-led solutions to climate vulnerability, emphasizing that economic opportunities are key to keeping communities healthy and stable. The session emphasized that adaptation and mitigation go hand in hand. 

·         The discussion on nature-based solutions, hosted by Interior Secretary Haaland, addressed how achieving net zero by 2050 is not possible without natural climate solutions, such as stopping deforestation and the loss of wetlands and restoring marine and terrestrial ecosystems. She announced U.S. support of a proposal to protect the Southern Ocean through the three marine protected area proposals under the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). All participants highlighted their support for protecting and conserving land and marine areas to sequester carbon and build climate resilience, and several made announcements. Seychelles is dedicating a chapter of its enhanced NDC to ocean-based solutions and is committing to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with support. Canada, for its part, is committing $4 billion in its new federal budget for land and ocean protection. In addition, Costa Rica underlined its co-leadership of the High-Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and the intention to have 30% of its ocean under protection by 2022; Peru highlighted that more than a fifth of its NDC measures are associated with nature-based solutions; Indonesia discussed its Presidential decree to permanently freeze new license for logging and peatland utilization, as well as its mangrove rehabilitation program; and Gabon noted that its intact and logged forests absorb four times more CO2 annually than its total emissions across all sectors. Representatives of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and of the Kharia Tribe of India highlighted the need to recognize the contributions and traditional knowledge of local and indigenous communities in ecosystem protection.

·         The discussion on climate security was hosted by Defence Secretary Austin. His remarks were followed by remarks from both Director of National Intelligence Haines and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas-Greenfield, who then moderated a panel discussion. Speakers included NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, defence officials from Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and the UK, as well as the Philippines’ finance minister. A common theme throughout the discussion was how climate impacts exacerbate security concerns and, as a result, affect military capabilities, heighten geopolitical competition, undermine stability, and provoke regional conflicts. Participants further emphasized that their nations and regions are vulnerable to extreme weather events, including sea level rise, cyclones, typhoons, drought, and increasing temperatures. All of these intensify underlying political, social, and economic conditions, which in turn can lead to food insecurity and water scarcity, violent extremism, and mass population movement, with disproportionate effects on vulnerable populations, especially women. Defence officials noted that their ministries are increasingly called upon to respond to disasters, which taxes their resources, thus elevating the need for enhanced disaster preparedness and response. In looking at their own operations and readiness, they showcased current efforts to decrease their militaries’ emissions, emphasizing how incorporating climate considerations into their operational planning can increase the agility of their forces. Additionally, they described the benefits of collaboration between defence ministries on shared climate risks. Participants highlighted the NATO climate security action plan and called on countries to incorporate climate considerations more broadly into multilateral fora, including UN peacekeeping missions. Perhaps most noteworthy, this was the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Defence convening of Secretaries of Defence focused on climate change.                                                                                                                                                                          Session 4 (“Unleashing Climate Innovation”) explored the critical innovations needed to speed net-zero transitions around the world and highlighted the efforts of governments, the private sector, and civil society in bringing new and improved technologies to market. Energy Secretary Granholm and Commerce Secretary Raimondo emphasized the economic rewards from investing in innovation as multi-trillion dollar markets for clean technologies emerge in the coming decades and announced reinvigorated U.S. international leadership on innovation. The discussion underscored the urgent need for innovation: 45% of the emissions reductions needed for a swift net-zero transition must come from technologies that are not commercially available, according to the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, and Bill Gates urged investment to drive down “green premium” prices of most zero-carbon technologies compared with fossil fuel alternatives. Several leading countries — Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kenya, Norway, and Singapore — described their approaches to investing in mitigation and adaptation technologies. These included clean fuels such as hydrogen, renewables such as offshore wind and geothermal energy, energy storage, clean desalination, carbon capture, advanced mobility, sustainable urban design, and monitoring technologies to verify emissions and stop deforestation. Leaders from the private sector, including from GE Renewables, Vattenfall, and X, as well as from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, focused on training the diverse innovators of the future and investing in technologies for digitalized, electrified, decarbonized, and resilient energy systems. Special Envoy Kerry closed by emphasizing that raising our innovation ambition enables us to raise the world’s climate ambition.                                                                                                                                                                                      Several speakers made announcements during this Session: Denmark announced a technology mission under Mission Innovation to decarbonize the global shipping sector, in collaboration with the United States, and that it will build the world’s first energy islands to produce clean fuels and supply power to Europe. The United Arab Emirates launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in partnership with the United States, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay. Bill Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst to drive public, private, and philanthropic capital to scale up critical emerging technologies. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems to decarbonize urban systems. GE Renewable Energy announced that the GE Foundation is committing up to $100 million to increase the diversity of the next generation of engineers. And X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory, announced a Moonshot for the electric grid.                                                                                                                                                                                        President Biden began Session 5 (“The Economic Opportunities of Climate Action”) by recognizing the opportunity that ambitious climate action presents to countries around the world to create good, high quality jobs. He noted that countries that prioritize policies that promote renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle manufacturing, methane abatement, and building retrofits, among other actions, would likely reap the rewards of job growth and economic prosperity in the years ahead. The U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Tai, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, and National Climate Advisor McCarthy underscored that the climate agenda could be a race to the top for countries that are pursuing the most ambitious methods to tackle the crisis, noting the American Jobs Plan that President Biden has proposed.                                                                                                                                                                         Participants echoed this vision and elaborated their own projects and programs to maximize the economic benefits of their climate actions. Leaders of countries recognized that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for countries to build back better and invest in the industries of the future. Community, tribal, private sector, and labour leaders also weighed in on the opportunities that decarbonization provided. Panellists noted that climate action presents economic opportunities to all parts of society, from energy workers to vehicle manufacturers, from large businesses to small. In particular, there was general alignment among both country representatives and other participants that governments should promote equitable opportunities for workers and that labour unions can play a key role in promoting high quality employment opportunities for people around the world. To that end, Poland announced that they had just concluded negotiations with coal mine labour unions to ensure a just transition of workers as part of their coal-fired power phasedown. In response to the discussion, President Biden closed by emphasizing that climate action might represent the largest economic opportunity of this century and urging leaders to stay focused.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In between the five Sessions, several other speakers provided important perspectives. Youth speaker Xiye Bastida, declaring that climate justice is social justice, underlined that youth need to be a part of decision-making processes and called for a stop to fossil fuel subsidies and extraction. Current and future Conference of Parties Presidents Minister Carolina Schmidt (Chile) and MP Alok Sharma (UK) discussed the urgency of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Minister Schmidt noted that COP25 included, for the first time, a mandate to address the ocean-climate nexus, while MP Sharma noted that we must put the world on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 through long-term targets and aligned NDCs, as well as immediate action, such as phasing out coal. Pope Francis, who has been a climate leader for many years, underlined the need to “care for nature so that nature may care for us.” Chair Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality highlighted the Biden Administration’s commitment to environmental justice and introduced Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; she underlined the need to build back better to lift up the communities struggling with climate impacts and environmental injustice. Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, noted the key role of cities and businesses in tackling the climate crisis.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Alongside the Summit, Special Envoy Kerry hosted two Ministerial Roundtables to provide a broader group of countries an opportunity to contribute to the discussions. He heard from representatives of more than 60 countries from all over the world, reflecting a wide range of regions, geographic features, and national circumstances, and summarized their input for leaders on the second day of the Summit. Many Roundtable participants expressed concern about the inadequacy of global climate action to date and/or shared the unprecedented climate impacts they are experiencing. At the same time, participants enthusiastically reported on the significant, exciting efforts they are undertaking to confront the climate crisis, even while facing the global pandemic. Beyond many commitments to net zero emissions, enhanced NDCs, and innovative adaptation efforts, participants included a carbon-negative country, countries that have successfully decoupled economic growth from carbon emissions, leaders in carbon storage, countries with extensive forest cover, issuers of green bonds, and countries focusing on gender-responsive approaches and the participation of indigenous communities. It was notable that many of those passionately embracing climate solutions contribute far less than 1% of global emissions. The Roundtables contributed to the Summit’s sense of urgency as countries rally around increased ambition on the road to Glasgow.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Roundtable participants represented: Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, The Bahamas, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia. A list of new climate-related initiatives announced by the United States at or around the Summit can be found in this Fact Sheet.