Commonwealth Secretary-General concludes official visit to Tuvalu

Commonwealth Secretary General has concluded his first visit to Tuvalu, at the invitation of Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga.

It marked the start of his tour of the Pacific region during which he will also visit Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea

The purpose of the visit was to reiterate and renew the Commonwealth’s commitment to work in partnership with Tuvalu, a valued member and one of our 31 small states, particularly in the context of the work of the Commonwealth across the entire spectrum of interests of small states.

“I had the opportunity to brief and consult the leadership on Commonwealth priorities ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place in Malta in November. I also had the opportunity to discuss, among others, regional priorities associated with climate change, ocean governance and the blue economy, and natural disaster management, specifically the challenge of reconstruction in Tuvalu wrought by Cyclone Pam earlier this year. This follows my call on Commonwealth member governments to pledge support following the devastating storm.

“During my visit, I called on the Governor-General, Sir Iakoba Taeia Italeli; the Prime Minister, Enele Sopoaga; the Foreign Minister, Taukelina T Finikaso; and, the Leader of the Opposition, Kausea Natano. I also had the honour to address the full Cabinet, at the invitation of the Prime Minister, at which the Hon Speaker of Parliament, Otinielu Tauteleimalae Tausi, also kindly participated, and have an exchange with them on issues including on climate change, natural disaster management, oceans management, human resource development, health, education, ICT capability, fisheries, trade and international affairs,” said the Secretary General.

Our discussions included Commonwealth partnership with Tuvalu in the areas of:

Climate Change

Tuvalu benefits from the presence of a regional adviser based at the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa.

A Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub is being developed to assist member countries with obtaining financial and other climate finance-related resources.

Oceans, Maritime Boundaries and Natural Resources Management

The Commonwealth has a comprehensive ongoing programme of support to Tuvalu in the area of maritime boundary delimitation, including ocean governance. Through this programme, Tuvalu will be able to secure the sustainable economic use of its ocean territory. Work in this area has included a bilateral maritime boundary treaty between Tuvalu and Fiji in October 2014; support given to Tuvalu to conclude a tri-partite maritime boundary agreement with Fiji and France in December 2014; and, an extended continental shelf submission by Tuvalu, France and New Zealand. The Commonwealth has also assisted Tuvalu in regulatory work on deep seabed mining. The Secretariat would be pleased to continue cooperation in developing a Seabed Mining Policy and a Marine Baseline Survey for Tuvalu.

Small States

Tuvalu participates in the Commonwealth’s Small States Office to the United Nations in New York. Tuvalu also gains through the resources provided by our Small States Office in Geneva, particularly in the areas of human rights and trade, through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) representation in the Office.

Tuvalu also participates in a multitude of Commonwealth small states initiatives, including our work on resilience building and addressing challenges of vulnerability. Last year, we held our first Small States Ministerial Meeting in Saint Lucia. We continue to innovate in areas that practically benefit small states, which are a high priority for the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth is progressing with the development of a Small States Centre of Excellence, based in Malta to address priority challenges affecting small states.


Tuvalu benefits through the trade advisers deployed at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, under the Hub and Spokes Programme, to strengthen trade policy formulation, trade negotiations and the implementation of international and regional trade agreements. 

The Commonwealth is also assisting regional trade negotiations through the deployment of Trade Experts at the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor for PACER (Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations) Trade Negotiations, who are assisting with the process of Tuvalu’s regional integration. In addition, the Commonwealth provides support to Pacific countries to enhance their capacity to effectively formulate and negotiate trade rules, policies and agreements that promote growth and sustainable development.


We are pleased to note the development of a National Youth Policy in Tuvalu, where we will able to provide assistance in its implementation, especially focusing on skills development of young people.

Human Rights

The Commonwealth has agreed to provide capacity to support the implementation of Tuvalu's accepted recommendations under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) in the Attorney-General’s office.


The Government and Parliament in Tuvalu have benefited through the Commonwealth’s regional capacity building initiatives in the areas of rule of law and human rights and continuing participation in strengthening public administration has been agreed.

ICT Development

We will work with Tuvalu, supported by our partners, to enhance ICT access and connectivity, vital to all national outcomes of remote member states.

Training and Capacity Building Assistance

Tuvalu continues to benefit from regular Commonwealth training and capacity building programmes in specialised areas such as climate change, oceans and natural resource management, rule of law, small states and trade. Tuvalu will shortly be able to benefit from an innovative online resource for member countries through shared technical assistance offers

During my visit, I had the opportunity to visit the Tuvalu Maritime Institute, the country’s only vocational training centre that imparts seafarers’ training to young men and women. Tuvalu has a long history of seafaring, which is an important contributor to the overall national economy and employment of young people.

The Pacific Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will be held in Samoa from 1 to 4 September. My visit there will coincide with the Commonwealth Youth Games, where over a thousand young athletes from across our member states will compete. I look forward to Tuvalu’s active participation at both events.

I also look forward to welcoming the  Prime Minister at CHOGM in Malta.