The Commonwealth Foundation completed the first year of its Strategy 2017-21. The results of this first year were presented to the Foundation’s Board in June 2018. It was received well with an affirmation of the demand for the Foundation’s work in amplifying civic voice in governance across the Commonwealth.
The delivery of the Commonwealth People’s Forum 2018 in London in advance of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was widely praised. And the increased prominence of the integration of gender and its intersectionality with disadvantage was particularly welcomed.
Continuous improvement is a consistent feature of the work of the Foundation. Every year, planning is undertaken and this time in May, we covered the programmatic priorities, their design and implementation for the next three years from 2018 to 2021.
So what will the next three years look like for us?
The Foundation will remain focused on the pathways for advocating and supporting SDG 16: peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. This is the specific interest of the Foundation. Success in achieving SDG 16 could not be more relevant than now and arguably would ‘unlock’ the rest of the goals, particularly in the midst of an increasingly contested space for people’s participation in governance.
As part of continuous improvement, we will keep an eye on results; cultivating deeper what has been established and building on outcomes to date into the next three years. Processes and partnerships that are bearing fruit will be nurtured; and new ones that make sense will be established.
We are committed to enhance the integration of gender and its intersectionality in all the programmes and organisational aspects of the Foundation’s work.
We have also benefited in cultivating flexibility to adapt by taking learning more vigorously, which means connecting the dots and promoting an integrated approach to our work.
With results on people’s participation in governance at hand, the Foundation is increasingly intentional in raising the visibility, not only of the brand, but more importantly of the range of outcomes being advanced. This is seeing progress in areas such as:
- Women’s inclusion in political and democratic processes including peacebuilding
- Environmental governance as it relates to climate change
- Legislative reform
- Coalition building for policy advocacy
- Inclusion of persons with disabilities
- Citizen-led social accountability
- Enhanced and inclusive service delivery
- Localisation of global multilateral conventions such as CEDAW
- SDG 2030
- Universal Periodic Review and creative expression as entry points to raising awareness of policy issues among many others.
Commonwealth Writers, the cultural initiative of the Foundation, will continue to support the transformative power of creative expression and will provide platforms for less heard voices and narratives across the Commonwealth, in countries with little or no publishing infrastructure, from places that are marked by geographical, geopolitical or economic isolation and where freedom of expression is challenged. The 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner will be announced in Cyprus in July 2018. The Prize brings unpublished writers and stories to the attention of an international audience.
As we look to the next three years, we will persist to ask the question: where can we add value given the relatively modest contributions the Foundation can make in the wide spectrum of participatory governance?
Myn Garcia is Deputy Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation.