The Secretary-General was delivering the One People Oration, an annual lecture at the Abbey, established in 1966 to encourage unity.
She said, “While the Commonwealth accounts for only a third of the world’s population, we can lay claim to a superb record of embracing global challenges and adapting to change.”
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, introduced the Secretary-General. He spoke about the special connection between the Commonwealth and the Abbey, where the Commonwealth Day Service is held on the second Monday in March every year.
He said, “We treasure our contact with the Commonwealth, seeing it as a force for good in a world where there is too much disagreement.”
During the lecture, Secretary-General Scotland spoke about the 53-country organisation’s impressive, substantial and enduring record of cooperation, collaboration and impact.
She added that the Commonwealth saw its rating from the UK’s Department for International Development increase from C to an A+ in the last two years, reflecting a more practical approach to programme delivery.
“This practical grounding to our collaboration means that we are able to respond to specific needs and to share wisdom and experience of what has worked well, as well as what has not worked well. This approach accelerates progress and helps avoid wasting scarce resources on policies, programmes or projects which are less than optimal,” she said.
The Secretary-General also reviewed the strong outcomes of the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. They include a connectivity agenda to boost trade and support global growth plus the Commonwealth Blue Charter, set up to sustainably manage the ocean and protect it from the effects of climate change, pollution and over-fishing.
Secretary-General Scotland underscored the importance of values such as tolerance, respect and understanding, enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. She described the Commonwealth’s “sense of being one people, a global family,” as a stirring affirmation of unity and common purpose.
A member of the audience from New Delhi said, “I am particularly delighted with your words about climate change. Baroness Scotland, I think we are very blessed to have you at the head of the Commonwealth for the reason that there is a fusion of law and Commonwealth values.”