The Prince of Wales has urged Commonwealth leaders to take bold actions and lead the world in the “right direction” towards a sustainable future.

Charles described the family of nations as a “common market”, which if it worked together could tackle the issue which “lies at the very heart of what the Commonwealth is looking to achieve”.

In a meeting of his Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) – launched in 2020 to help accelerate the world’s transition to a sustainable future – the prince spoke to world leaders in Rwanda, including the African country’s president Paul Kagame and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prince of Wales visit to Rwanda
The Prince of Wales with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and Rwanda President Paul Kagame (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The prince told the delegates, who included Fifa president Gianni Infantino: “If we can commit to being bold in our ambition – but more importantly in our action – the Commonwealth, as one of the world largest ‘common markets’ has a real opportunity to lead the world in the right direction.”

The heir to the throne went on to say: “This meeting has been, in fact, three years on the making.

“Following Chogm 2018 in London, I felt strongly that sustainability, and indeed a sustainable future, lies at the very heart of what the Commonwealth is looking to achieve – for Nature, People and Planet.”

Charles told the meeting he had been working for the past three years with his SMI and now had more than 300 chief executive officers from across the globe – representing he said assets worth 70 trillion dollars – “wanting to contribute to accelerating the world’s green economy”.

He added: “But, ladies and gentlemen, they cannot do this without your help.

“To move forward at pace and scale we need to be clear on the enabling environment and the demand signals so that industry and investors know where to go, be it for renewable energy, sustainable infrastructure, sustainable aviation fuel or regenerative agriculture.”

In a separate meeting with other Commonwealth leaders, Charles warned attempts to wipe out malaria have been derailed by Covid-19.

Speaking during a summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases at the nearby Intare conference centre, Kigali, the prince said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, 2022 must be a turning point.

“Post Covid-19, the world is paying greater attention to infectious diseases, and we must capitalise on this to provide proper support to prepare for, and respond to, infectious disease outbreaks.”

During the event, the heir to the throne also met Melinda French Gates and director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedross Adhanom-Ghebreyesus and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi.

Charles, president of Malaria No More UK, added: “Largely due to Covid-19 pandemic there remains a great amount to do if our ambitions are to be met.”

In a lighter moment during the day, Charles adopted an injured crane yesterday which had lost the ability to fly and joked: “No flies on me.”

Charles was visiting Kigali’s first wildlife sanctuary, Umusambi Village, which is home to more than 50 of the endangered crane species, the peaceful sanctuary has lush green wetlands and trees on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital.

As he walked around the village, Charles was told that endangered cranes rely on the wetlands for survival but that most of the wetlands in the world are disappearing.

He then met a crane called Mutesi, which means Spoilt, as the bird has been so well treated that she prefers the company of humans to her feathered friends.

Olivier Nsengimana, founder and executive of Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, presented Charles with an adoption certificate for the bird, telling the Prince: “From now on, she is yours.”

A clearly delighted Charles replied: “Oh. You must keep me informed.”