On Monday 10 March, the annual Commonwealth Day celebrations will take place in our 53 member states worldwide. In London, CLGF will as usual be participating in the multi-faith service held at Westminster Abbey in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth, Head of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Commonwealth High Commissioners and other dignitaries. This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the multi-cultural nature of the Commonwealth family and will be paralleled by many celebrations elsewhere, not least by local communities, civil society and the coming generation - our young people and schoolchildren.
The theme of this year’s Commonwealth Day is Team Commonwealth. This is in part in anticipation of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, but it also reflects the wider spirit of friendship and drive towards shared goals and values that exist in the Commonwealth. This apart from the three intergovernmental Commonwealth organisations including the Commonwealth Secretariat, there are some 10 quasi-governmental Commonwealth associated organisations including CLGF itself and over 50 Commonwealth professional and civil society organisations: a demonstration of the vibrancy and wide knowledge base of Team Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Games are being hosted by Glasgow City Council, a long standing and valued member of CLGF. Being the host of not just the games but other significant events such as having the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or indeed the CLGF’s biennial Commonwealth Local Government Conference - carries both opportunities and responsibilities for the host. Through supporting key Commonwealth gatherings, local councils like Glasgow and indeed national and provincial governments have a chance to contribute directly to Team Commonwealth and create lasting legacy which -certainly in the case of the Games- can even involve new infrastructure and indeed urban regeneration. Hosts of past CLGF conferences such as London, Tshwane, Aberdeen, Auckland, Freeport, Cardiff and Kampala, Uganda have also found the international exposure gained as hosts significant, contributing directly to their own ‘brand recognition’ and ability to market themselves worldwide.
The special CLGF calendar published to mark 2014 as the Year of Developmental Local Government, which has been sent to all our members and partners, has local government as ‘a focal point for community involvement and participation’ as the motto for the month of March, a suitable contribution to the concept of Team Commonwealth.
I wish our many local governments and other members and partners a very happy Commonwealth Day 2014 and look forward to our continued and close cooperation in the ongoing success of Team Commonwealth.