The Commonwealth, which makes up a quarter of the world's land mass, and is home to almost one third of the world's population, is perhaps something which is frequently overlooked and its impact not, fully recognised by Britons. In a post-Brexit Britain the importance of the Commonwealth has been reiterated, and there has been much support behind the idea that it serves as a 'ready made springboard' for the United Kingdom to play a central role on the world stage.
Throughout her 60 year reign, the Queen has remained head of the Commonwealth. She is the figure that unites the 53 countries that are a part of this great organisation. Since 6th February 1952, the Queen has undertaken 200 visits to Commonwealth countries, and with the exception of Rwanda and Cameroon, has visited every country within this organisation. This includes all of her many repeat visits as well.
"The Commonwealth symbolises the transformation of the Crown from an emblem of dominion into a symbol of free and voluntary association."- The Queen Speaking in 1977.
Queen Elizabeth embarking on her first Commonwealth tour which lasted 174 days. She is pictured here in HMAS Australia in March 1954.
(Image source: Google images)
Each year, the Queen attends the Commonwealth day celebrations in London and this year, she sought to reinforce the role that the Commonwealth has in the creation of a future that is 'fairer, more secure, more prosperous and [perhaps most significantly], more sustainable.' This was a sentiment that was shared by President, Jioji Konrote in Fiji, who also highlighted the importance of addressing climate change in his Commonwealth day speech.
“There are 11 Commonwealth member states in the Pacific and all of us are grappling with the extreme weather events, rising seas and changes to agriculture associated with climate change.” - President Jioji Konrote.
This need to address environmental issues proves to be particularly topical, especially with the current concerns over plastic pollution. On 15th April, the Government published a press release which stated countries from across the Commonwealth, had pledged to eradicate the use of avoidable single use plastic in an effort to prevent its presence in our oceans.
In order for this to take fruition, the Prime Minister has also announced a £61.4 million package of funding to drive global research and assist countries across the Commonwealth, to prevent plastic entering the oceans in the first place.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has commented:
"When it comes to our seas and oceans, the challenge is global so the answer must be too.
Through this ambitious alliance, we will build on the Uk's leading microbeads ban and 5p plastic bag charge to harness the full power of the Commonwealth in pushing for global change and safeguarding our marine environment for future generations."
You may want to start thinking about your very own plastic waste habits. Those plastic bottles filling up those work bins, and those endless empty coffee cups because of those morning work runs. A Beyond Bespoke stainless steel bottle, perfect for either hot or cold drinks, is a great way of knowing you've helped to do your bit!
The Commonwealth then, is crucial. It is a way of unifying 53 countries to achieve the same goal; a goal which proves critical to each of their futures.
Written by Abbie Coombes.
(Feature image source: Gov.uk)