We share centuries of intertwined and evolved culture and values with the countries of the Commonwealth and the English speaking world- from music, the words we use in everyday language, what we eat and even how we think. Together, they hold over one third of all humanity and represent every strand of the human experience. London is home to a collective diaspora of these countries which combine to make it the most dynamic, culturally diverse and exciting city on the planet.
Throughout the 20th century the Commonwealth led on human rights, free speech and democracy. Now we face new challenges – none greater than our own devastation of our planet. Earth’s “sixth mass extinction” event is happening now. Global wildlife numbers are heading towards a 67 per cent decline in just 50 years. If this trend continues, our planet’s forest, river and ocean systems will collapse along with the clean air, water, food and stable climate that they provide.
The Commonwealth has played an important role in the environment before, adding momentum to the critical Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. It is clear that the Commonwealth could and should face today’s biggest challenges head-on.
The Commonwealth is in a unique position to put nature higher on their agenda and to recognise that we can’t continue to damage our planet - it includes nations with a huge diversity of wildlife and environments – from tropical rainforests in Borneo and polar ecosystems in Canada to coral reefs in Belize and grasslands in Kenya. We need to achieve development and poverty reduction that does not cost the Earth.
Commonwealth countries have already shown leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting forests, sustainably managing fish stocks and the phasing out of substances depleting the ozone layer. Commonwealth countries have taken action to protect their rare wildlife, to conserve coral reefs and to manage waste better, so that less of it escapes into the environment.
The future success of the Commonwealth and Global Sustainability rests with the continued commitment and contributions of young people in promoting and sustaining the Commonwealth and its values and principles, and we commit to investing in and promoting their development, particularly through the creation of opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship.
LEFF19 is a celebration of the incredible people in the Commonwealth who are making a difference.