2023 Commonwealth Day commemoration to include tree planting

This year’s Commonwealth Day celebrations is under the theme; ‘Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future’ to be observed on Monday, March 13 in Lilongwe, whose activities include tree planting, sporting performances, panel discussion

A statement from the Commonwealth Games Malawi says there will also be a special Commonwealth Flag Raising ceremony to be held at Commonwealth Games Malawi premises, near Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe.

The Commonwealth Day is the annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and America’s, the Pacific and Europe.

Charles III, Head of the Commonwealth

Secretary general, Captain John Kaputa (Rtd) says in the statement that Minister of Youth & Sports, Uchizi Mkandawire is expected to grace the occasion together with High Commissioners from Commonwealth member states with diplomatic representation in Malawi and representatives from Commonwealth-linked organisations.

Commonwealth Games Malawi president, Jappie Mhango is quoted as saying: “This year’s theme signifies the active commitment of Commonwealth member States to collaborate on climate action.

“The 2023 Commonwealth Day is also a special celebration as it falls during the Commonwealth Year of Youth, which galvanises efforts to build a better future for the 1.5 billion Commonwealth citizens under the age of 30.

“Commonwealth Day 2023 also marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Commonwealth Charter,” Mhango is quoted as saying.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries, whose roots go back to the British Empire but today, any country can join the modern Commonwealth — with the last two countries to join being Gabon and Togo in 2022.

The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation — which focuses on non-governmental relations among member states.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations (UN) least developed countries (LDCs) conference in Doha, Qatar this week — which President Lazarus Chakwera attended — the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, advocated for increased international support for LDCs.

A report on the commonwealth.org says out of the Commonwealth’s 56 countries, 33 are small states, 25 of which are small island developing states, and 12 are among the world’s LDCs.

It says the economic gap between LDCs and the rest of the world has been increasing with its GDP per capita representing 15% of the world average in 1971, but by 2019 this had declined to less than 10%.

The report said Secretary-General Scotland called for accelerated sustainable development to tap into the full potential of LDCs to help them build strong, prosperous and equitable futures.

It further says LDCs are in a race against time to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the remaining years need to usher in a new global partnership to ensure the 46 LDCs in the world benefit from social, economic and environmental development, and that the impacts of global issues like climate change, which stand to adversely impact these countries, are mitigated.

The Secretary-General gave insight into how the international community can increase its engagement with LDCs and help correct the severe economic imbalance.

She is quoted as saying: “The implementation of the Doha Programme of Action is vital as we work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in this crucial final decade of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The Commonwealth’s least developed countries face a range of long-term structural challenges, and they are disproportionately exposed to the world’s current the economic, environmental and security pressures.

“There has been clear agreement at this conference that we need to accelerate structural transformation in LDCs if we are to make decisive and irreversible progress towards ending poverty and inequality, building resilience, and achieving sustainable and inclusive development.

“And to help LDC weather our present storms, we need to transform the international support system, to ensure LDCs have the tools they need to respond to unexpected shocks and crises.”

Thecommonwealth.org further reports that Scotland highlighted the work of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment, which provides a platform for Commonwealth countries to exchange best practices and experiences to boost trade and investment, undertake domestic reform and reduce trade frictions between member countries.

“The Commonwealth will continue to advocate for fair, credible and complete definitions and measures of vulnerability that will support better criteria for access to development finance and a fairer, more effective and more inclusive global financial architecture.

“To aid these efforts, in 2021 the Commonwealth developed a Universal Vulnerability Index (UVI), which assesses a country’s vulnerabilities and net resilience. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with Intel will offer training in artificial intelligence and machine learning to thousands of our Commonwealth citizens.

“Partnerships like this can help upskill, retrain and develop the necessary workforce skills to support productive transformation in LDCs.”

She thus called for a newly invigorated and additionally funded Aid for Digital Trade initiative to provide much-needed support for LDCs to tackle the digital divide, develop ecosystems supporting their participation in digital trade and the digital economy, and grow and diversify their exports.

The Commonwealth dates back to the first half of the 20th century with the decolonization of the British Empire through increased self-governance of its territories.

The head of the Commonwealth is Charles III, who is king of 15 member states, known as the Commonwealth realms, while 36 other members are republics and five others have different monarchs.

The Commonwealth Charter defines their shared values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law as promoted by the quadrennial Commonwealth Games.

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