I was lucky enough to join the installation of Baroness Patricia Scotland as the sixth Secretary General (SG) of the Commonwealth (and the first woman to hold the post) at Marlborough House this morning (Monday 4 April). It was a full-on multisensory cocktail of music, colour and dance from across the Commonwealth.
The priorities for the new SG’s term in office?
- Tackling violence against women and girls – “peace at home will mean peace in the world”
- Tacking the existential threat of climate change – this is “not about the future. We are living with the reality now and have been for decades”
- Promoting trade and good governance – establishing best practice toolkits for tackling corruption, promoting human rights, rule of law…
- Providing opportunities for young people – the Commonwealth includes over a third of the global population – half of which under the age of 30
The Commonwealth’s real asset, she said, is who we are and what we want to be. Our real value is what we have in Common.
Alongside her speech and inspiring story (from the village of St Joseph in Dominica, to London’s east end, House of Lords and now Marlborough House), we were treated a steel band (well done the West Indies!), gospel, readings and yet more music.
My favourites were this essay from 16-year-old Paraschos Cant – Senior Winner of The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015 – a structured letter to leaders of the world: ‘Youth versus experience’, and Heather Small’s awesome live rendition of Search for the Hero – taking me back to the 90s…
The Royal Society, whose Fellowship is drawn from across the Commonwealth (and Foreign Membership from around the world) celebrates science across the Commonwealth. Climate change is one of several themes that will be covered in the next Commonwealth Science Conference which will take place in Singapore in June 2017. More details of the conference, and a call for delegates, will shortly be available on our website.