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Commonwealth Day 2015

The High Commission is pleased to reproduce the Messages from the Head of the Commonwealth, HM Queen Elizabeth II, and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, H.E. Kamalesh Sharma, on this year's Commonwealth theme: "A Young Commonwealth'. which is being celebrated today around the Commonwealth. The theme is intended to highlight the capacity, contribution and potential of young people, who play a vital role at the heart of sustainable development and democracy.

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth

One simple lesson from history is that when people come together to talk, to exchange ideas and to develop common goals, wonderful things can happen.  So many of the world's greatest technological and industrial achievements have begun as partnerships between families, countries, and even continents.  But, as we are often reminded, the opposite can also be true.  When common goals fall apart, so does the exchange of ideas.  And if people no longer trust or understand each other, the talking will soon stop too. 

In the Commonwealth we are a group of 53 nations of dramatically different sizes and climates.  But over the years, drawing on our shared history, we have seen and acted upon the huge advantages of mutual cooperation and understanding, for the benefit of our countries and the people who live in them.

Not only are there tremendous rewards for this cooperation, but through dialogue we protect ourselves against the dangers that can so easily arise from a failure to talk or to see the other person's point of view. 

Indeed, it seems to me that now, in the second decade of the twenty first century, what we share through being members of the Commonwealth is more important and worthy of protection than perhaps at any other time in the Commonwealth's existence.  We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead.

With this in mind, I think it apt that on this day we celebrate 'A Young Commonwealth' and all that it has to offer.  As a concept that is unique in human history, the Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations. 

The youthfulness and vitality that motivate our collective endeavours were seen in abundance last year in Glasgow.  They will be seen again in a few months' time when Young Leaders from islands and continents gather to make new friendships and to work on exciting initiatives that can help to build a safer world for future generations.  And last November in India, talented young scientists from universities and research institutes conferred with eminent professors and pioneers of discovery at the Commonwealth Science Conference where together they shared thoughts on insights and inventions that promise a more sustainable future.

These are stirring examples of what is meant by 'A Young Commonwealth'.  It is a globally diverse and inclusive community that opens up new possibilities for development through trust and encouragement.  Commonwealth Day provides each of us, as members of this worldwide family, with a chance to recommit ourselves to upholding the values of the Commonwealth Charter.   

It has the power to enrich us all, but, just as importantly in an uncertain world, it gives us a good reason to keep talking.




Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma

Inclusiveness and youthfulness are distinctive characteristics of the Commonwealth. It is through freshness of thought, readiness to test new ideas, and openness to new approaches that our worldwide family continues to fulfil its purpose as a great global good.

 We continue to grow and flourish thanks to our pioneering spirit and our strong sense of connection - which is a product of that other distinguishing Commonwealth feature: our convening power.

 Spanning the globe, our Commonwealth family links people from among the least and the most populous of nations; connecting remote small island developing states, emerging, and advanced economies. As a proportion of the population, the number of young people in many of our member states is remarkably high.

Together, the diversity and youth of the Commonwealth open up unrivalled opportunities, enabling our citizens to learn from the experiences of others, and to share new ideas developed in a wide range of contexts.

Our theme for this Commonwealth Day and the year ahead is 'A Young Commonwealth'. This reminds us that youth, and progress through innovation are at the heart of the Commonwealth.

New approaches and fresh thinking help us to realise our potential, and continually to replenish the collective wisdom that is our shared Commonwealth inheritance, and a rich resource adding global value.

Through practical support and technical cooperation the Commonwealth advances social progress and helps drive economic growth.

Commonwealth connection, particularly between the young people of our member states, encourages the respect and understanding that are so much needed in our world today.

This in turn can strengthen community cohesion and contributes to nation-building; it extends financial inclusion and promotes job creation to create economies that are stronger, more sustainable, and resilient.

The benefits we derive, individually and collectively, as Commonwealth citizens are immense assets that have accrued over time and are constantly renewed. Each generation has a responsibility to protect and to add to this common wealth.

We all have a part to play in remaking the world and the communities in which we live so that they are safer, fairer, and more inclusive. The worldwide Commonwealth web enables us to share in that endeavour, multiplying opportunities, and broadening perspectives.

Commonwealth Day is a good time for each of us to reflect on how, as members of 'A Young Commonwealth', we can draw on its vast reservoirs of goodwill and realise its immense potential.

It is by working together that we achieve greatest impact and maximise the beneficial effect of each practical action, turning the dreams and aspirations of our youth into reality.