Monday 12th March. That was the day we celebrated the annual Commonwealth Day, which recognises the unity of 2.3 billion people across the world, and their contribution to the Commonwealth of Nations. It remains a key date of the British calendar, with very high-profile people participating. I won’t lie, it wasn’t a nice day, not a nice day at all, but is there anything more quintessentially British than constant, light rainfall?
Despite the weather’s clear resentment towards us, the excitement of the UK young delegates to the upcoming Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) wasn’t going to be dampened. We arrived to an event that has been attributed great attention, given the current political climate and the importance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM). These discussions could really set a precedent for future global relationships and trade talks post-Brexit, not to be dramatic or anything. (I tried to not mention the “B” word but that effort clearly didn’t make much of a difference.)
Disclaimer: as you can see, this blog post is filled with acronyms, so I do apologise in advance.
The day started at 10 Downing Street. I was honoured to be moderating a conversation by-the-fireside with the Prime Minister, Theresa May and Lord Ahmad, the Minister for the Commonwealth, about the role of young people in these discussion.
It was surreal to enter the house. Well, to call it a house wouldn’t do it justice; it was palatial, absolutely stunning. To walk up the steps alongside past prime ministers was an experience to say the least! After chatting to some of the amazing staff team within the Commonwealth Summit Unit (CSU), we began the Q+A, with the delegates asking probing questions on the relevance of the Commonwealth to daily life and the priorities of the UK within the Commonwealth.
It was refreshing to hear both ministers emphasise that young people are a core part of the work going on, especially as 60% of its citizens are under 30, but only time will tell whether real steps are taken to actually reflect this. Will young people be consulted? Will funding be allocated to facilitate this? We’ll find out come April, after the legacy of CHOGM takes shape.
I truly hope this Summit will be the foundation of real action to achieve a better world, not another forgotten gathering littered with unfulfilled promises and disenfranchised citizens.