Blogging from Marlborough House! I'm at the Board of Governors of The Commonwealth Foundation. Sitting between Tonga and Swaziland! One of the key items of discussion is the setting up of an "Eminent Persons Group" which is looking at how the Commonwealth develops.
One of the unique aspects of the way the Commonwealth works is that it places strong emphasis on civil society. Every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting has an input from a "People's Forum" and from the civil society committee (which I sit on from the UK).
It is probably fair to say though that Commonwealth countries have differing views on the role of civil society organisations from those like Canada or UK and Australia, which strongly support it, and those that see civil society as a challenge to Government in exposing undemocratic practices or corruption. It is always worth remembering there are countries in the world where civil society and third sector activity is dangerous. The UK's leadership role in using and promoting the third sector is underused.
One of the items raised today was the need to develop social investment banks in Commonwealth countries. At the last CHOGM, the statement adopted there by the Commonwealth People's Forum called for the establishment of a Commonwealth Social Investment Bank. This is a very real demonstration of the power of UK thought leadership and example.
It would be entirely naughty to suggest I'm available to Chair it. I'm somewhat busy with arguing for the UK one and Chairing the Social Investment Business. SIB had its strategy group meeting last night to look at how we play our part in developing and implementing "Big Society" ideas. It will need a strong capital base. Social finance is core to empowering communities and strengthening the third sector.
After my meeting today I go on to Chair the Board of the Social Investment Business. I shall start off by welcoming the election of my Vice Chair, Harriett Baldwin, to the House of Commons representing the good people of West Worcestershire and those lovely Cotswold towns of Malvern and Pershore!
I am agree with this point as the author said that Commonwealth countries have differing views on the role of civil society organizations from those like Canada or UK and Australia.
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