The Final Outcome Document of the Commonwealth People’s Forum (CPF) was unveiled at the closing session of the Forum Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, at the Chaaya Tranz Hotel in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka. Civil society delegates from Commonwealth countries met at the resort on the Indian Ocean Island’s south-west coast for the five-day deliberation to arrive at the key recommendations to be made to the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers’ meeting.
A special feature of the morning’s programme was the recitation of a poem – “Wish” by Fred D’Aguiar, Caribbean poet, novelist and playwright who is a professor of English at Virginia Tech University.
Sir Anand Satyanand, Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation who presided over the final session, declared that this People’s Forum was the largest exercise that the Foundation had been involved in recent times.
The report states that the experiences and aspirations of the peoples of the Commonwealth are articulated in the document “Commonwealth Perspective: Ideas for a New Development Agenda.”
One of the recommendations calls for the Heads of Government of the commonwealth to declare a stand-alone goal of gender equality; of empowering girls and women to achieve their full potential, prevent and eliminate violence against women and integrate women’s empowerment into all relevant goals including specific concerns such as economic, political and social environment including sexual and reproductive health. The full report is expected to be publicly available later today.
Hugo Swire, British Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, delivering the closing address, said that governments can’t work alone but had to account to the private sector and the civil society, and in doing so be accountable to systems. He also emphasized the need for visibility for civil society in the post-2015 agenda and called attention to the values that bind the Commonwealth together.
At the head table were, (L-R) Jehan Perera (National Peace Council), Kemberly Gittens (Caribbean Policy Development Centre), Nana Afadzinu (West Africa Civil Society Institute), Martin Tsounkue (Africa Development Intercharge Network), Sir Anand Satyanand, Chair, (Commonwealth Foundation), Myn Garcia (Commonwealth Foundation), Harsha Kumara Navaratne (Sewalanka Foundation) and Professor P. Abey (Academic for Citizen).
The Director of the Commonwealth Foundation Vijay Krishnarayan explained that CPF 2013 was a collaborative effort between the Commonwealth Foundation, Sri Lanka civil society, civil society organizations from across the commonwealth and the Government of Sri Lanka. He said that it was made possible by the efforts of the subcommittee under the stewardship of Dr. L.D. Chandradasa. Krishnarayan warmly acknowledged Dr. Chandradasa’s efforts and support.
Sir Anand Satyanand together with Vijay Krishnarayan of the Commonwealth Foundation will present the Commonwealth People’s Forum Report to the foreign ministers gathered in Colombo, Thursday.