The UK is about to host one of the biggest events in the global calendar.
Come April, world leaders from 53 different countries are going to be descending on London.
It’s a huge deal for the global fight against extreme poverty. But did you know why?
It’s for this big event in the world calendar, called the Commonwealth Summit — aka. the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, a.k.a., CHOGM.
You might not have heard of it — but the idea of the summit is to bring together world leaders from across six continents to discuss critical issues like global health, gender equality, trade and defence, and nutrition. So basically, all the good stuff.
The Commonwealth formed in 1943, following the decolonisation of the old British Empire, by countries once ruled by Britain. But membership is now based on free and equal cooperation, and the Commonwealth has incredible potential for leading the world into a new and positive future.
The theme of the summit this year is “towards a common future” and it’s all going to be focused on building on the strengths of the Commonwealth to make sure this unique organisation is responding to global challenges.
It hopes to deliver a more prosperous, secure, sustainable, and fair future for all of its citizens — particularly its young people.
The Chairship of the Commonwealth is passed from member to member — and this year the UK will be taking over the Chairship from Malta.
The Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, has used his last two years as Chair to, among other things, champion the eradication of polio.
The disease that once ravaged the whole world has been 99.9% eliminated . If it were not for the leadership of the Commonwealth, eradication would still be just a pipedream.
The Commonwealth contains a diverse group of countries, including many of the largest and smallest economies in the world. It is home to half of the globe’s top emerging cities and — with a combined population of 2.4 billion people — nearly a third of the global population.
What’s more, some 60% of the Commonwealth population is under 30 — and a billion of these are under 25.
In the lead up to the summit itself, which is held at the end of the week, leaders will attend a variety of forums, for “people”, “business”, “women”, and “youth”.
The summit will aim to build links between countries to offer young people access to knowledge and skills, and give them a voice on key issues like democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The global challenges we currently face don’t respect national borders — threats like security, disease, and gender inequality.
The UK is already a leader in economic and sustainable development — it is the only G7 country to give at least 0.7% of its gross national income to international aid and development, and we’re transforming lives around the world every day.
But the Chairship of the Commonwealth is a critical moment for the UK to take that leadership to a global stage, to drive global unity on supporting the world’s poorest people.
It also offers a unique opportunity to help implement and deliver the Global Goals , the 17 goals established by the UN that the world needs to achieve in order to end extreme poverty.
Despite incredible progress, diseases like polio and malaria still wreak havoc across the Commonwealth and, indeed, the world.
The collective power of the Commonwealth means that we can make real plans to get rid of these debilitating, and in some cases life-threatening, diseases.
Another opportunity for the Commonwealth to excel is in championing gender equality, and the rights of girls and women around the world.
“The UK has a longstanding and firm commitment to the Commonwealth and to the values it upholds, of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law,” said British prime minister Theresa May on Commonwealth Day last year.
“The UK is committed to working with all members not only to reaffirm these shared values,” she added, “but also to re-energise and revitalise the Commonwealth to cement its relevance to this and future generations.”