Day One of CHOGM: Investing in the Commonwealth's youth population

Youth Forum participants celebrating

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) kicked off in London yesterday, with representatives of all 53 member countries attending the five-day summit to address the shared global challenges we face.

The ACU is also in attendance, championing the role of higher education in building inclusive societies, and shaping the agenda on behalf of its member universities. Throughout the week, ACU Secretary General, Dr Joanna Newman, will be speaking and chairing sessions, and providing an official voice for higher education in the Commonwealth.

We have been reporting live on Twitter and bring you a round-up of the key events from the first day:

  • HRH Prince Harry announced new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, which will support 150 new scholars across universities in low and middle income countries. The ACU is proud to manage this new scheme starting in 2019.
  • The Prince, in his newly appointed position as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, also vowed to listen to the concerns and ideas of the Commonwealth’s youth population. 60% of the Commonwealth’s population is under the age of 30.  
  • Head of the Commonwealth Gender Section, Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua read a message from UN Deputy Secretary-General: ‘The Commonwealth has a key role to play in ensuring the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’. The ACU’s Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships contribute towards SDG 4.B by expanding the number of scholarships available to developing countries, and offer an innovative mechanism for supporting south-south as well as north-south mobility.
  • ACU Secretary General, Dr Joanna Newman, was a panellist for the 'Inclusive Education for Inclusive Societies' panel at the People's Forum, where she highlighted the ACU’s work on supporting gender equity in higher education, and on promoting mutual respect and understanding between people of different faiths, beliefs and cultures. Read this Twitter thread for more.

    Dr Newman said: ‘While access to higher education has increased enormously and there has been an explosion in demand of much of the developing Commonwealth, it has placed a huge strain on many systems unable to cope with the increase in numbers. If we aspire to have inclusive societies and economies, we need to pay attention to inclusion within our higher education systems.’

  • Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland QC, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event, told the Youth forum: ‘We need your energy powering our common future – your ideas and idealism, your solutions and resolution for tackling the complex challenges we face in our globalised world’.
  • The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General, Nabeel Goheer launched the Commonwealth Innovation Hub. The Hub has been established to tap and unleash the innovation potential of our Commonwealth.
  • Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, and Assistant Secretary General, Nabeel Goheer, both highlighted the importance of tackling climate change together. The ACU has been at the forefront of this for the past four years with its DFID-funded CIRCLE programme, a project aimed at developing the skills and research output of early career African researchers in the field of climate change and its local impacts on development.
  • The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, told the Commonwealth Business Forum: ‘The Commonwealth has never just been about heads of state and government. It has always been an organisation in which people and businesses from around the world can come together and work together to improve all our lives.

More information

The five-day summit opened on Monday 16 April with three days of parallel forums on Business, Women, People and Youth. This is followed by the formal Heads of Government Meeting on the Thursday and an official communique will be issued on Friday 20 April.