Seasonal message from the Director-General

Posted on 19/12/2018
By Vijay Krishnarayan

As we start to look forward to a seasonal break, we pause to reflect on the year that’s passed.

For the Commonwealth Foundation, one of the highlights of the year was the Commonwealth Summit held in London. This biennial gathering of Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers, civil society, and business naturally focusses the system’s energies. We played our part, convening diverse civic voices at the Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF 2018), which placed inclusive governance at the centre of Commonwealth renewal.

Creative expression helped to animate the discussions and dialogues at CPF 2018 and made a real impact on the delegates. Seeing Karlo Mila deliver the poem that she wrote for the occasion to more than a thousand people was electric. She used the form to bring issues from Oceania to London, including colonial legacy, inequality, and climate change.

We were able to take some of those messages from civil society to the climate change talks taking place in Poland. Indeed, I write from Katowice, where 33,000 people are gathered at COP24. Here the Foundation is driven by the need for international processes to listen to and hear less heard voices. We gathered 40 of these in Barbados earlier this year in partnership with UNDP Global Environment Programme to explore the intersectionality between gender and climate change.

Our grant making continues to illustrate the ways in which participatory governance shapes people’s lives. Since 2012-13 we have invested nearly £6 million in projects that span a wide range of sectors but have one theme in common. They show how people’s participation in a wide range of governance processes can enhance development outcomes. We were able to add a further five projects to the portfolio this year.

One of the Foundation’s defining characteristics is a commitment to South to South and South to North knowledge sharing and learning. We saw a good example of this in action at the learning workshop that we convened for new grant projects in October. This annual activity aims to help project leaders to refine their approach to monitoring and assessment. This year we included sessions on gender sensitivity and its intersectionality, which helped underline the importance of holistic and integrated approaches.

These highlights give a sense of the busy and productive year that we have enjoyed at the Commonwealth Foundation. On behalf of staff I would like to thank our member states for their sustained support as well as our civil society stakeholders for continuing to walk with us.

Vijay is Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation.