Secretary-General Patricia Scotland today encouraged young diplomats to take the lead in tackling the globe’s pressing social and economic challenges.
Speaking at a breakfast for young diplomats in London-based high commissions and embassies, the Secretary-General highlighted the importance of last April’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), when 53 member countries agreed on a suite of practical initiatives to tackle climate change, inequality and barriers to trade.
Commenting on the Commonwealth’s unique approach to decision-making, the Secretary-General said, “There are no votes in the Commonwealth. Our leaders and high commissioners do not come to a meeting with a predetermined position. Every decision is achieved through consensus. This means outcomes and agreements are owned by all.”
Focusing on trade, she underlined the growing significance of intra-Commonwealth trade, which is anticipated to surpass $700 billion by 2020. She said, “The potential for growth in trade among our member countries has always been there. There is a 19 per cent cost advantage when they trade with one another. We call this the ‘Commonwealth Advantage’.”
Secretary-General Scotland also informed diplomats about the ‘Peace at the Crease’ initiative, which draws on the popularity of cricket as a tool to promote peace and development in Commonwealth countries.
Describing the Commonwealth as a powerful and positive influence, she referred to the historic Summit in Malta at which Commonwealth leaders committed to limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C, while, aiming for 1.5°C. This, she stressed, laid the foundation for the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015.
Wrapping up, the Secretary-General spoke about gender-balance in leadership positions. She said, “When women and girls are given equal opportunities to succeed, they can be powerful agents of change, driving stronger economic growth, encouraging greater peace and cooperation and improving the quality of life in their countries.”
Following the session, Belinda Wava, a Press Officer at the British Council, said she felt “inspired” by the Secretary-General’s speech. She added, “I feel empowered and I pledge to inspire women of younger generations. I believe their voices matter and they too can bring about change.”
The young diplomats pledged to answer the Secretary-General’s call to be involved in building a fairer, more prosperous, more sustainable and more secure future for all.