The dawn of a new year brings with it heightened awareness of rising expectations for the future, and of opportunities that lie ahead. This is particularly true for young people, and in the Commonwealth we are particularly alive to the ambitions and potential of our youth, who account for more than half of the Commonwealth family across the world.
Together, we seek to build a world in which nations and communities are able to advance equally to meet democratic, social and economic aspirations. Progress towards these goals calls for collective effort to secure inclusive participation in the planning and decision-making processes that shape the societies and the neighbourhoods in which our citizens live, learn and work.
Our Commonwealth approach is to understand democracy, and economic and social development, as mutually sustaining; they bring reciprocal benefits one to another. There is reciprocity, too, in the support that flows between members of the Commonwealth family through our worldwide networks. Governments, officials, professionals, institutions of learning and administration, and communities of practice, all draw energy and encouragement from the intersections and exchanges that occur as a result of being able to convene and confer through Commonwealth links.
The potency and promise of those linkages is what our current Commonwealth theme, ‘Connecting Cultures’, seeks to capture. A striking example of this is the role currently being played by the Commonwealth in developing new internationally agreed development goals, and more generally on moving forward with international co-operation on development. In this we have worked collaboratively with a variety of partners including the UN High-level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the G20 Development Working Group.
Reflecting on such positive engagement for the future, and on the achievements of the past year, particularly the joyful celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth, gives us cause to recommit ourselves to upholding and advancing collective Commonwealth values in practical ways. We do this for the benefit of our fellow Commonwealth citizens, and for the greater global good.
Let us draw inspiration from one another in 2013 as we strive to realise the ideals of the Commonwealth.