Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has launched the international Commonwealth Big Lunch in Nadi, Fiji.
The initiative builds on the Eden Project’s annual Big Lunch, which was launched in the UK in 2009 as a way to connect people with their communities over a shared meal. This year the UK government is adapting the idea to the Commonwealth ahead of April’s Heads of Government Meeting in London. Commonwealth Big Lunches will encourage people to celebrate their Commonwealth connections through food. The UK Summit team hopes that every Commonwealth country will host at least one lunch before the heads meet.
Among the Secretary-General's 480 guests were delegates to the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, local school children and civil society.
Welcoming them, Secretary-General Scotland said, "Can I say how thrilled I am that we have people under the age of 30 around this table because the baton is going to be passed onto them? I was asked to tell you something by our two youngest participants, when I asked what they wanted the leaders to do.
“They said: ‘We want them to walk the talk and to act’. I promised them that at this education ministers’ meeting we were going to act together for their benefit. Both of them are ‘climate change warriors’ and they’re looking for more warriors to join them.
“So, this international opportunity to have this Commonwealth Big Lunch is just the start. We are hoping each and every one of you will think about how you will inculcate this idea of a Commonwealth Big Lunch in your country.”
With more than 2.4 billion citizens, spanning 53 countries and six continents, the Commonwealth Big Lunches will provide a unique opportunity for people to unite over their shared Commonwealth links.
Aliha Nisha, who is 17 and from one of the local schools said, “It is a very good idea and it encourages older people to share their ideas and to get together and brainstorm ideas they come up with.
“We learnt a lot about the different Commonwealth countries and the different technologies which exist. The school systems, for example, are different from country to country and we also talked about climate change.”
Rishab Prashad, also 17 said, “It felt so great to hear about how different schools operate around the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Big Lunches act in reminding us that we’re all one family and we’re all connected in some way. I found it amazing how people could talk so openly, not only about similarities, but differences too.”
The Secretary-General said the UK launch of the Commonwealth Big Lunch will take place on Commonwealth Day, 12 March.