Valletta: Prince Charles warned today that if international leaders fail to clinch a deal on climate change at talks in Paris next week, it would leave mankind facing a "perfect storm".
"This meeting falls at a very important, indeed critical moment for the future of mankind and our planet," he said in a speech at the Commonwealth summit in Malta.
"Countless concerned people around the world" are banking on global leaders to come up with an ambitious long-term goal for the rapid reduction of carbon emissions, he said, as
Commonwealth leaders began to arrive on the rain-lashed Mediterranean island.
"We face an unprecedented set of interlocking challenges, all of which are creeping up on us in the shape of perfect storm," he added, from unsustainable population growth to migration, rapid globalisation, and social economic and energy insecurity.
The Commonwealth family of 53 nations is gathering in Malta for three days of talks from Friday with a focus on reaching agreements that will open doors for wider deals at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, which begin on Monday.
Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth, is making a state visit to Malta to coincide with the summit, supported by her husband Prince Philip, their eldest son Charles and his wife Camilla.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting sees countries including Britain, Canada, India and South Africa sit down on equal terms with tiny Caribbean island nations and developing microstates.
"The beauty of the Commonwealth is that its diversity makes it into a prototype or microcosm of the whole world," its Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said.
Born out of the British empire, the Commonwealth of Nations brings together around a quarter of the world's countries and a third of its population.
"The Commonwealth reflects the tensions that exist because around the same table you have some of the most developed and vulnerable economies in the world," said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who is hosting the summit.
"Most other groupings either have a region or an economic standing in common."
Muscat said he was targeting strong outcomes rooted in "realism" as the organisation tackles issues of "direct concern" -- namely climate change, extremism, trade and migration issues.
On climate change, Sharma said the summit's final statement should have a "strong political component" and would also "indicate measures which the Commonwealth is going to undertake, particularly for small and vulnerable states".
"It's a larger question of moral hazard and of an ethical imperative," he explained.