The articles about the King and the Commonwealth (Apathy in New Zealand – but little desire for change – as King Charles’s reign begins, 13 September), (Queen’s death met with anger as well as grief in Kenya, 12 September), and your editorial (13 September) fail to grasp the dynamism of the Commonwealth and its potential. Togo and Gabon joined this year and, like Rwanda and Mozambique before them, are not former British colonies. One in three young people between the ages of 15 and 29 live in Commonwealth countries. Crucially, Commonwealth countries are projected to account for nearly 50% of the growth in the world’s urban population to 2050, and cities and the way they develop are where carbon emissions can and must be tackled at scale.
Quite simply, unless the Commonwealth can mobilise to address the climate emergency through action at city level, the global prospects are dim. The grouping, as an intergovernmental body, was slow to grasp this weighty responsibility, but the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in June adopted a declaration on sustainable urbanisation.
There is an opportunity to repurpose the Commonwealth to drive that agenda, including in its carbon-intensive economies, through engaging its young people, local governments, the private sector and civil society.
Emeritus professor Cliff Hague
Past president, Commonwealth Association of Planners
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