From the Commonwealth Secretary-General

Kamalesh Sharma

The potency of united action has been demonstrated time and again in the history of the modern Commonwealth. The collective insights and initiatives we are able to bring to life continue to be important factors in finding innovative ways of responding to the many contemporary challenges faced by members of our family of nations. This is currently being seen most strikingly in the way the wider global community is turning to the Commonwealth as a key partner in charting a way forward on development issues, particularly in defining goals and shaping a plan of action for a post-2015 development agenda.

Last year saw a number of particularly notable partnerships on this front. Early in 2012, a meeting of the G20 Development Working Group was held at Marlborough House, chaired by Mexico. The occasion reminded us of the extent to which the Commonwealth and G20 are now working together. The presence at the meeting of all G20 members reinforced further the role of the Commonwealth as an important contributor to the work of the group. This means we are increasingly able to bring to the G20 table the most pressing economic and social concerns of Commonwealth members, in particular those of our poorest, smallest and most vulnerable states.

Later in the year, the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda gathered at Marlborough House. Under its co-chairs, Prime Minister Cameron of the UK, President Sirleaf of Liberia and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the panel held its first set of meetings towards agreeing a new plan of global action on fighting poverty with the aspiration of ending extreme poverty within a lifetime. Discussions ranged over food security, energy, education, jobs, health care, and how best to reach those excluded from traditional pathways out of poverty.

December saw the OECD Development Assistance Committee convene at Marlborough House. Among those present were EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser for Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina J. Mohammed, as well as the chief executives of major Commonwealth member government development agencies: Australia’s AusAid, Canada’s CIDA, New Zealand’s NZAid and the United Kingdom’s UK Aid. Meetings with Commissioner Piebalgs and with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría gave me the opportunity of discussing with them such issues as trade facilitation, unlocking funds for countries to mitigate the effects of climate change, green growth, development assistance and financial stability.

Collaboration with global partners at an early stage offers scope for weaving Commonwealth priorities into the fabric of global cooperation on matters of such import and significance as agreeing development goals and planning international action to achieve them. The dynamism of these engagements builds on the direction given by Commonwealth heads and the collective work of ministers and officials, the work of our committed and diligent staff at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the partnership of Commonwealth civil society organisations in advancing our values.

There can be no more valuable supportive action we can bring to our own work than being instrumental in convening our own member states and the wider international community in pursuit of Commonwealth goals for the greater global good.

As we approach Commonwealth Day 2013, and look back over the momentous events of the past 12 months, I recall the words of the special song composed for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. Performed for the fi rst time by Laura Wright at the Observance in Westminster Abbey last year, ‘Stronger as One’ is more than simply an aspiration – it describes the Commonwealth in action.

About the author:

HE Mr Kamalesh Sharma is the Commonwealth Secretary-General


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