By Greg Quinn
British High Commissioner
Today the 53 members of the Common-wealth will celebrate Commonwealth Day. The theme of this year’s day is ‘Towards a Common Future’.
The Commonwealth is an organisation with deep roots and profound strengths. As a group of like-minded countries we face new and unprecedented challenges. These include: weak global trade and investment flows; new cross-border security threats; the effects of climate change on small and other vulnerable states; and threats to our shared values of democracy, good governance and inclusivity as set out in the Commonwealth Charter.
As member states we must all work together to ensure the Commonwealth has the institutional strength to face these challenges effectively.
This year is of particular note for the United Kingdom as we are delighted to be hosting, in close cooperation with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Com-monwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London and Windsor from 16 to 20 April. This will be the largest Heads meeting that has ever taken place in the UK. The recent return of The Gambia to the Common-wealth has also been extremely good news for the Commonwealth.
With the theme of ‘Towards a Common Future’ Heads of State will work to address common challenges at CHOGM. Particular focus is expected to be paid to delivering:
– A more prosperous future: boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment and maximizing the opportunities offered by the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ – 53 member states and 2.4bn people, across six continents and making up a quarter of the world’s land mass.
– A more secure future: increasing cooperation across security challenges including global terrorism, organised crime and cyber attacks.
– A more sustainable future: building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crises.
– A fairer future: promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and good governance across the Commonwealth.
Together we have the chance to build a reformed and revitalised Common-wealth and the UK is determined to help carry forward that agenda for the long-term.
Before and after CHOGM the British High Commission in Guyana will be running a number of themed events. An art competition for school children has just been launched. We will also be holding a ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’ at Pakuri Village. This will be an opportunity to celebrate the Commonwealth and our links to local NGOs. In addition on 23 February Denise Dias was selected by Her Majesty The Queen as a ‘Commonwealth Points of Light’ award winner for her work on road safety (https://www.pointsoflight.gov.uk/guyana/).
The attendance of His Excellency President David Granger at CHOGM will take place nearly one year after he visited the UK and met Her Majesty The Queen. That was a landmark visit and followed the visit of Prince Harry to Guyana in December 2016. The UK-Guyana relationship has not always been easy but it is enduring and deep.