The Commonwealth’s network of 87 accredited organizations (AOs) have been lauded for their immense support and contributions to the member nations during the most terrible tragedies in recent history, including the COVID-19 pandemic and disastrous natural calamities. Recently, representatives of a variety of non-profit organizations, networks, and associations were authorized to assist the implementation of the Commonwealth Charter convened at Marlborough House in London for their fourteenth organized conference with the Secretary-General.
It was their first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic, and during her speech, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC expressed her gratitude to the AOs, which currently serve all nations of the Commonwealth. She said, “The years since we were last together in person have been incredibly challenging. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 106 million of our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth. Each is a tragedy, but without the work of many Accredited Organisations, we would undoubtedly have lost millions more”. She added, “You have done so much to support Commonwealth countries, and care for the worst affected… Indeed, in the face of the grave challenges facing our world – from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, to the impacts of climate change and the tremors of global conflict, the work of the Commonwealth’s Accredited Organisations stands tall.”
The Secretary-General highlighted the vital role of the recognized organizations in offering relief aid, connectivity, and advocacy for individuals impacted by this year’s catastrophic eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai subsea volcano in Tonga. AOs also delivered all necessary aid to the Pakistan population impacted by the devastating floods that claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions, and inundated one-third of the nation. The Secretary-General also appreciated the work of AOs such as Sightsavers International and the Royal Life Saving Society servicing in the most impacted regions, including Sindh and Balochistan. She also mentioned the Pakistan Flood Appeals created by Commonwealth AOs like Muslim Aid and Rotary International, saying, “I want to convey the deep appreciation of the governments of Commonwealth countries for all your efforts to alleviate the pain and misery which these disasters unleash.”
The success of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) organized in Kigali, Rwanda, was one of the evidence of the numerous contributions and accomplishments of AOs throughout the last year. Further, the Commonwealth Forestry Association, the Commonwealth Foundation, and the Association of Commonwealth Universities were instrumental in securing important results such as the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter. On the other hand, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Commonwealth Association of Architects, and Commonwealth Association of Planners collaborated closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat to support the CHOGM leaders’ ratification of the Commonwealth Declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation.
The Partnerships team at the Commonwealth Secretariat provided a report indicating that AOs funded nearly GBP£120 million over the previous fiscal year. The majority of organizations were involved in COVID-19, sustainable growth, and access to standard health, education, food, and shelter. Additionally, research is being conducted to map the cumulative contribution of the AOs. Throughout the discussion, attendees demanded additional support to disabled individuals and the elderly. Speaking about the event, Victoria Scholfield of the Commonwealth Roundtable stated that talks were based on the belief that good intentions can translate into positive acts.
According to Abhik Sen, the head of Innovation and Partnerships at the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Accredited Organisations have a tremendous opportunity to create an even bigger impact. Partnership between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors will be important for the Commonwealth to meet and overcome the numerous difficulties it will confront in the future years. The Commonwealth Charter and the globally-agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals will serve as guidance as the organization seeks to collaborate more closely and cohesively. Additionally, Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth and the Zalmi Foundation were the two newly-approved organizations that joined the Commonwealth Accredited Organisations.