Humanitarian Terry Waite urges more Commonwealth action on Climate ChangePosted by AlexT - 15/09/09 at 01:09 pm
This year’s speaker at the Commonwealth Foundation’s Commonwealth Lecture, Terry Waite, a humanitarian and former hostage, talks to the RCS about climate change, education and the Commonwealth’s relevance.
How do you think the Commonwealth adds value to the world?
The Commonwealth is a remarkable association because a collection of 53 nations gather together around common values, not around primarily economic values. They are working for peace, working for democracy, working to improve the lives of people around the world. Therefore by keeping that vision right and by consistently working for those values to be expressed, not just in word but in deed, they are making an enormous contribution to the world.
In your lecture you talked about the big challenges facing the world: climate change, democracy…Are there ways in which the Commonwealth can contribute to addressing those challenges?
Very much so. Commonwealth leaders ought really to take those values to heart. Let?s take one – climate change. Climate change is actually threatening the existence of certain countries in the world, Bangladesh, the Maldives and other places and their very existence is at stake and so therefore I think it is absolutely vital that Commonwealth leaders take responsibility. Stop deforestation for example; act in a responsible way one to another because what they do has an effect on their neighbour; what their neighbour does has an effect on us, on everybody. It isn’t just a question of rich and poor nations, it’s a question of us all together being determined to deal with this problem that faces us.
You talked about how the Commonwealth is relevant to someone like you. How does the Commonwealth make itself relevant to a 12 year old in Guyana?
Only if there can be a personal contact, if they can be involved in one way, if they can be involved in programs. For example, I think we ought to have a syllabus that goes across all schools in the Commonwealth dealing with some of the big issues that are Commonwealth issues and every school in the Commonwealth should?have at least an element of that. That’s one way in which young people can be actually involved in the Commonwealth and feel the sense of pride of belonging to an organisation that has such high ideals.