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Commonwealth Secretary-General with Cabinet Secretaries and senior civil servants.

Commonwealth Secretary-General with Cabinet Secretaries and senior civil servants

Public service must rethink development strategies, says Secretary-General

26 March 2019

Commonwealth countries must rethink their approach to delivering public services if sustainable development is to be achieved, according to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. 

At the first ever meeting of Commonwealth Cabinet Secretaries and Heads of Public Service, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland called for a “new relationship” between government and citizens based on mutual trust and partnership. 

Speaking at the opening ceremony, she said: “Mere continuation of current development strategies, for both governments and international partners, must be reconsidered if we are to achieve development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

“It is important to create lean and agile institutions that are efficient, effective, and more importantly accountable. This requires greater public transparency and scrutiny, with democratic oversight and institutional responsiveness in all aspects of their work.” 

The Secretary-General added that many developing Commonwealth countries are facing a myriad of external and internal challenges, putting pressure on limited public resources. This inevitably affects the delivery of critical public services to citizens. 

The three-day meeting will act as a platform for civil service chiefs to share experiences and lessons learnt in coping with current and emerging global challenges, such as climate change, financing for development and rising public debt. 

The meeting outcomes will also inform the policy agenda for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, scheduled for 2020 in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Secretary-General Scotland added: “The Commonwealth places greater emphasis on collaboration and partnerships as the smarter way of delivering and maximising impact. We need to utilise our many Commonwealth assets, including our ability to mobilise cooperation and to leverage resources and sharing of experience and expertise.”

She also highlighted the Commonwealth’s ‘SDG toolkit’, which seeks to address the challenges of implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), by enhancing their execution, monitoring, and evaluation.