Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Commonwealth leaders discuss success and challenges ahead


Commonwealth leaders discuss success and challenges ahead

Commonwealth leaders discuss success and challenges ahead

Commonwealth heads met in executive session at Lancaster House in London on 19 April 2018.

They discussed how they could collectively tackle global and Commonwealth challenges.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) heard about the work which has been carried out by the Commonwealth Secretariat on behalf of the 53 member states and 2.4 billion citizens.

Leaders heard about the need to collaborate to tackle the existential threat of climate change, encouraged to adopt the Commonwealth Blue Charter on ocean governance and the importance and benefits of trading together.

On Friday, the Commonwealth heads were to meet at the CHOGM retreat to decide the priorities for the next two years.

The theme for this year’s CHOGM is ‘Towards a Common Future’, seeking a fairer, more sustainable, prosperous and secure future.

Download the final Communiqué and Leaders’ Statement here.

Officially opening CHOGM, The Queen spoke of the enduring influence of the Commonwealth.

“Put simply, we are one of the world’s great convening powers, a global association of volunteers who believe in the tangible benefits that flow from exchanging ideas and experiences and respecting each other’s point of view.

“And we seem to be growing stronger year by year. The advantages are plain to see. An increasing emphasis on trade between our countries is helping us all to discover exciting new ways of doing business. And imaginative initiatives have shown how together we can bring about change on a global scale. The Commonwealth Canopy has emphasised our interdependence, while the Commonwealth Blue Charter promises to do the same in protecting our shared ocean resources.”

The Queen emphasised the role that young people play in the Commonwealth, 60 per cent of whom are under the age of 30, observing:

“It remains a great pleasure and honour to serve you as Head of the Commonwealth and to observe, with pride and satisfaction, that this is a flourishing network.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day The Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949.”

In her remarks, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland stated: “Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings are distinctive for being both receptive and responsive to the needs of all, especially the young, the marginalised and the vulnerable.”

“Our dialogue is different, because there is a special dynamic in our Commonwealth ecosystem. We can think back to the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment made at the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malaysia.

“A visionary and pioneering statement, that early blossom now bears fruit in initiatives such as The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy and our current work on the Commonwealth Blue Charter and the blue economy. Such continuing abundance and productivity depend on processes of refreshment and renewal that are essential for the continuing vitality and development of any organism.”

The Commonwealth would embrace fresh opportunities to bring positive change, continued the Secretary-General.

“Numerous examples show Commonwealth synergy accelerating progress. To tackle climate change and plastic pollution, to eliminate child, early and forced marriage and modern slavery, to eradicate polio and malaria, and to reduce prevalence of non-communicable diseases.”

Remarks by Prime Minister Theresa May at the formal opening of the CHOGM

I am extremely proud to be welcoming you all to London – the first full Heads of Government meeting here in almost forty years.

I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to ​Prime Minister Muscat and his team: ​thank you for your incredible hard work. You represent a Commonwealth truth, that the size of a country does not limit its ambition and impact.

I hope that over the coming days and ​months we can ​build on the work you have begun as we forge a future for our common good.

Over many decades this organisation has brought together nations young and old, large and small, to celebrate our common bonds and to work to our mutual benefit.

There have been difficulties, successes, controversies. But I believe wholeheartedly in the good that the Commonwealth can do.

And this week as young people from our many nations gather and contribute their views, our responsibility as leaders is to ensure their voices are heard, and to build a Commonwealth that we can be proud to hand on to the next generation.

For in the Commonwealth we have an incredible opportunity.

An opportunity to show just what can be achieved through co-ordinated action and co-operation, to seize the possibilities open to us as member countries, and together, to take on some of the 21st century’s biggest questions.

How we support our most vulnerable member states as we tackle climate change and improve the health of our oceans, creating a more sustainable Commonwealth?

How we develop through trade, pushing back against protectionism, for a more prosperous Commonwealth?

How we respond to threats to the rules based international order and from cyber-attacks, creating a more secure Commonwealth?

And how, in all this, we advance those common values which our organisation has always stood for – democracy, human rights, tolerance, and the rule of law – so that we establish a fairer Commonwealth?

These are problems nations cannot solve alone. But by working together, we can make a real difference.

Over the past three​ days, we have seen the power of the Commonwealth in action at the Forums for ​business leaders, young people, women​, and civil society.

These discussions have demonstrated the vibrancy and creativity of our organisation – focusing on issues such as improving trade, youth unemployment, education and health – all of which have the potential to transform people’s lives.

And I am looking forward to taking these issues further with the heads of government over the next two days.

Finally, on behalf of all of you assembled here in Buckingham Palace, I want to offer ​my heartfelt thanks to​ Your Majesty,​ Head of the Commonwealth.

T​his week you have opened your homes to us – here in London and in Windsor. Over many years you have been the Commonwealth’s most steadfast and fervent champion.

You have been true to the deepest values of the Commonwealth – that the voice of the smallest member country is worth precisely as much as that of the largest; that the wealthiest and the most vulnerable stand shoulder to shoulder​.

You have seen us through some of our most serious challenges.

And we commit to sustaining this Commonwealth, which you have so carefully nurtured.

For your service, for your dedication, for your constancy – we thank you.


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