The People's Forum 2021

22-23 June

About the People's Forum 2021

The Commonwealth People’s Forum convenes every two years, immediately before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This unique gathering of civil society actors gives the people of the Commonwealth the chance to have a say in issues and decisions that directly affect their lives. By bringing important—often unheard—voices into CHOGM, the People’s Forum affirms the Commonwealth’s values of democracy, justice, and people-centred governance.

The People’s Forum 2021 will take place in Kigali, Rwanda from 22-23 June. Delegates, speakers, and performers are promoting a radical shift in thinking to address the important questions of our age. How do we harness the best of humanity—the forces of love, compassion, equality, and justice—to advance our common future and protect our planet? How do we work together to build or re-fashion our institutions so that they support a world that leaves no one behind?

Participants will be drawn from all regions and reflect the diversity and richness of the Commonwealth itself. They will be encouraged to engage bravely, to challenge themselves and each other; to generate the energy and ideas needed to lead the transformation of systems and attitudes that are holding us back.

For an updated programme and list of speakers and performers, join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using #CWpeople

Update on coronavirus (Covid-19)

The People’s Forum was postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19. A new date in June 2021 has been agreed. Updated programme details are below.

The Commonwealth Foundation is working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Government of Rwanda to ensure the health and safety all those involved in organising the People’s Forum. We will apply guidance provided by the World Health Organization and communicate any changes or updates through this webpage and our mailing list. Those who have already registered to participate in the Forum will be contacted directly with respect to any changes to the current arrangements. Sign up to our mailing list on this page for updates. 

Programme 22-23 June 2021

Opening Ceremony

Featuring guest speakers:

  • Commonwealth Foundation
  • GoR Guest of Honour

Justice in a World fit for all. Session 1:
The right to health in the Commonwealth

What does a right to health actually mean? What have recent events taught us about the nature of the obligation to protect, promote and uphold the right to health? What role can the Commonwealth play? How can members of the Commonwealth family show solidarity and responsibility towards more members needing greater support to respond to the crises? How can the health systems be strengthened to protect the health rights of their respective communities?

Justice in a World fit for all. Session 2:
Crisis and inequality – what have we learned?

Covid-19 has been described as a ‘pandemic of inequality’ that has ‘exposed, fed off and increased existing inequalities of wealth, gender and race’ within and between countries. Its impacts have been felt disproportionately by those left behind. Successful interventions to support those most impacted by the pandemic were community-focussed and also state-facilitated. What role can the Commonwealth play in encouraging and supporting the policies and actions of people-centred governance that we know will make a difference?

Advancing just and accountable governance in the Commonwealth. Session 1: Building forward together for economic justice

The pandemic has shown that countries can act swiftly and dramatically to make policy and economic changes when needed. What have we learned about the systemic change and people-centred governance required for a sustainable future? What role can and should the Commonwealth play in advocating for an economy that prioritises a just transition to a zero-carbon future and human and planetary wellbeing over financial profit? What is the roadmap for realising such visions?

Advancing just and accountable governance in the Commonwealth. Session 2: The crisis of justice and freedom

Across the world, citizens are expressing their desire to be more involved in decisions affecting their lives – to be heard on matters they care about the most. At the same time, in many Commonwealth countries, the space for civic engagement and media freedom is shrinking and coming under increasing control. In the face of this, how do we advance civic involvement in governance in ways that secure greater accountability? Who is continuing to be excluded from participation and how can more meaningful inclusion be promoted and secured? Can we raise the voices of Commonwealth civil society to protect this space?

Transforming lives: making it happen. Session 1:
The climate crisis: Time for a global offensive

In the critical decade for climate change, how can the Commonwealth family demonstrate greater responsibility towards – and solidarity with – those countries most disproportionately affected by its impacts? What can we learn from the leadership of small island developing states in campaigning for effective ‘loss and damage’ policies – compensation for costs associated with major climatic and slow onset events?

Transforming lives: making it happen. Session 2:
A Commonwealth for all

As the UN Secretary-General said: ‘In a global crisis, we must meet the expectations of those we serve with unity, solidarity and coordinated multilateral global action.’ This applies to the Commonwealth as much as to the UN. What can the Commonwealth, its Member States and institutions do to advance health and climate justice? What areas of the Commonwealth need strengthening if it is to fulfil its potential as a leader, innovator and inspiration? How can we better listen to, and share power with, young leaders, diverse voices advocating for change and bringing solutions?

CPF Communique and closing

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Date & Time
This event will occur during the week of 22 June 2021.
Kigali, Rwanda