A common future

Damian writes a regular column in the Petersfield Post, and today's piece is about the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being hosted in the UK in a couple of weeks:


Later this month, the UK will host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) when leaders from all the member countries are expected to gather in London and Windsor.

The theme - ‘Towards a common future’ - is focused on building on the strengths of the group, ensuring this unique organisation is able to respond to global challenges and help deliver a more prosperous, secure, sustainable and fair future for all its citizens, particularly its young people.

The Commonwealth contains a diverse group of 53 member nations, including many of the largest and smallest economies in the world, but every member has an equal voice, no matter its size.  It is home to half of the globe’s top emerging cities and, with a combined population of 2.4 billion people, nearly a third of the global population.

The people and businesses of the Commonwealth also enjoy the advantage of having a common language, legal systems, and values, making it easier for them to communicate, trade and cooperate with one another. Trade between Commonwealth nations is projected to be worth $1 trillion by 2020.

The summit's priorities will have a strong youth focus, recognising how the future of the Commonwealth depends on its one billion young people. With 60% of its population under the age of 30, it’s important that the group fosters more links between countries to offer greater access to knowledge and skills, and to give young people the opportunities they need to succeed in the future.

But members also face common challenges: weak global trade and investment flows; new cross-border security threats; the effects of climate change, and threats to shared values of democracy.

The meeting will address the challenges of terrorism, serious organised crime, cyber-crime, violent extremism and human trafficking – significant security concerns that pay no heed to borders and can only be addressed by increased action and cooperation between nations.

The impacts of climate change are also particularly relevant for the group as a large number of members are small or vulnerable states.  Each year across the Commonwealth, natural disasters affect 28 million people and cause economic losses of almost $8bn.

As the outcomes of this summit will directly affect the UK’s future, we want young people to think about the issues involved and the fundamental values that connect us all – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – across the Commonwealth and beyond.

The Department for Education has worked with the British Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat to create an education pack designed to further pupils’ understanding of the organisation, including its structure and principles, and some of the great people from its history.

I hope schools across East Hampshire will take advantage to share this information, and pupils will see the opportunities that lie ahead for them and the millions of other young people across the Commonwealth.

The UK has a unique and proud relationship with its Commonwealth partners, sharing a firm commitment to its values and vision. And as we look to build a truly global Britain, there is much we can do to strengthen ties between members, and to help secure its relevance for generations to come.

For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/department-for-education-launches-co…


Written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post, Wednesday 4th April 2018