We are looking for Commonwealth citizens to share their views ahead of the 2024 Heads of Government Meeting. Sign up to take part

Resource Type: Speech

8th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 19 April 2013

The global conversation on the future of the development landscape has been steadily growing in its pitch and volume over the past few months. What started as a murmur two years ago has been building to a crescendo as stakeholders aim to influence the outcomes of the discussions that will take place at the UN later this year on a post-2015 development framework…

Commonwealth Lecture 2013

‘The opportunity of our time’

Ricken Patel, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Avaaz, spoke about the importance of shared responsibility amongst nations, organisations, communities and individuals in advancing democracy.

In the magnificent setting of the Guildhall in the heart of the City of London, Mr Patel addressed the 2013 Commonwealth Theme: ‘Opportunity through Enterprise’, explaining that: “We, all of us, together, will bring a more profound and sustainable and unstoppable transformation than we’ve ever seen before. And all of us, together, will meet the challenge, and seize the opportunity, of our time.”

The Gladwyn Lecture – Participatory governance: what’s that got to do with education?

On Tuesday, 4 December Commonwealth Foundation Director Vijay Krishnarayan delivered this year’s Gladwyn Lecture, an event hosted by the Council for Education in the Commonwealth at the Houses of Parliament in London.

Speaking at this event, Mr Krishnarayan demonstrated how the concept of participatory governance is relevant to making the education sector responsive to development needs.  

Referring to the Commonwealth Foundation’s relaunch and its focus on participatory governance, Mr Krishnarayan explained that this is not a dramatic change, but rather “a bend in the river” for the organisation. “If one is looking for a specific reference to education, health, urbanisation or food security in our new narrative you will be disappointed. Rather we have identified the need for governments and stakeholders to come together with the right blend of institutions, policies and capacities to shape responses to challenges in each of these sectors and indeed others.” 

Mr Krishnarayan stated that the concept of participatory governance is not new, and has sound roots in the education sector. Citing examples of communiques issued by the Commonwealth Education Ministers advocating for stakeholder participation in the delivery of education, Mr Krishnarayan suggested that this demonstrates a connection between participation and the quality of education outcomes which is particularly relevant to the post-2015 development agenda. 

However, despite giving examples of how participation of stakeholders can improve education outcomes, he said that leadership from governments and relevant ministries is essential in order to realise this potential. “This is a type of leadership that can unite diverse stakeholders around the achievement of better education outcomes. It is the type of leadership that creates spaces and makes information available because it can see that this will contribute to improvement.”

Mr Krishnarayan concluded by stating that participatory governance is a concept closely related to the development challenges face by Commonwealth citizens.  “[Participatory governance] is an idea that acknowledges the right of every citizen to engage with the institutions that shape their lives. This is what education is about and it is at the heart of what the Commonwealth stands for.”

Commonwealth Foundation re-launch

Vijay Krishnarayan speaking at the Commonwealth Foundation re-launch“Governance is too important and complex to be left to governments alone”

Vijay Krishnarayan is the Director of the Commonwealth Foundation. He has supported civil society organisations in the United Kingdom, Caribbean and the wider Commonwealth over the last 25 years.

A land-use planner by training, he has a special interest in the relationship between development and the environment. Before joining the Commonwealth Foundation in 2006, he spent over a decade in the Caribbean, most notably as Managing Partner for the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), one of the region’s sustainable development think tanks.

From 2006-2012 he served as the Foundation’s Deputy Director. In this capacity he had oversight of the Foundation’s grants and programmes and helped build the organisation’s communications capacity. He led the Foundation’s coordination of civil society inputs to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings in 2007 (Kampala), 2009 (Port of Spain) and 2011 (Perth). He was also at the forefront of Commonwealth organisations’ work to re-engage with their counterparts in Zimbabwean civil society.

Commonwealth Foundation re-launch

Irina Cattalini speaking at the Commonwealth Foundation relaunch“Participatory governance has proved to result in powerful change, it is not a new concept, and it will be a challenge to embed it in the culture and practice across the Commonwealth, but there is enough evidence to show that it works.”

Irina Cattalini has a strong commitment to working within civil society to bring about sustainable social change for the Western Australian community. She has worked professionally within a social justice framework in the community sector for fourteen years.

Irina joined WACOSS in 2005, where she is currently Chief Executive Officer, and has also held the position of Director, Social Policy leading the policy, research and advocacy work of WA’s leading community service peak body. She is also committed to a socially just and sustainable approach to environmental protection and has held senior management positions with the Conservation Council WA, and is Vice President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. She is also a Fellow of Leadership WA. Irina joined the Foundation’s Civil Society Advisory Committee in 2012.