The Commonwealth Day Theme for 2010

 

 In 2010 Commonwealth Day falls as usual on the second Monday, which will be 8th March. Increasingly, there is a move to extend the theme into a series of events taking place throughout the year across London and the UK, and mirrored in all capitals and countries of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth.

 

The Commonwealth Day theme for 2010 is:

 

It will be celebrated not only at the traditional Westminster Abbey Observance Ceremony on Commonwealth Day itself, attended by the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty The Queen, but also through public lectures, debates, museum displays, theatrical and musical events, and educational activities taking place during the rest of the week and throughout the year.

 

The theme points to the importance of science to the quality of life of all Commonwealth citizens and to the future of our societies. The concept can be used to design a wide range of activities, such as debates, lectures and displays, carried forward through events in cultural, academic, political and other venues and institutions. Ideas for debate might include ethical and faith concerns; improving policy responsiveness to innovation; encouraging research and creativity; new technologies for sustainability; development perspectives in science and technology; the challenge of forensic science; and many others! It is hoped that many countries and organisations will mobilize in support.

 

 

The private sector will undoubtedly find resonance in the theme, especially those working in communications, mineral extraction, energy, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, forestry and engineering.

 

The Commonwealth is rich in professional networks, many of whom it is hoped will respond to the theme and celebrate it or address it in their own way. Of the 80 or 90 such networks in existence, the significance of the theme might be especially noteworthy for those supporting doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, foresters, engineers, surveyors, planners, ecologists, museums, archivists, veterinarians and agriculturalists, amongst many others.

 

Why Science, Technology and Society is Important

 

The theme will remind Commonwealth institutions that science underpins economic and social progress, and that access to technology is fundamental to equitability and the implementation of democracy. Science can help to address poor governance through improved accountability and monitoring. It is fundamental to appropriate policy-making in use of natural resources such as forests, fisheries, or in planning waste management, water supply, sanitation and environmental health. 

 

Scientific and technological advances can help address challenges of sustainability, development, poverty and marginalization in all their aspects: social, economic, environmental and cultural. They can help reduce emissions and create low-carbon pathways for sustainable energy, transportation and shelter. At the same time they can strengthen information accessibility, communications and education for those most in need. New ways to address maternal healthcare, child mortality, resistance to drugs, and pandemics such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza and poliomyelitis are essential. Equally important are technologies in agriculture and veterinary sciences to reduce losses and increase food production.  Stem cell and DNA research and genetic finger-printing offer the prospect of transformation of health treatments and criminology techniques. These are just a few examples from many that could be cited and discussed.

 

Why the Commonwealth?

 

 

[1].

 

They went on to call for a renewed commitment to science and technology in Commonwealth institutions, and for assistance in building the science base of the least developed Member States. These proposals resonated with related calls on water and sanitation (paras 66-68), health (paras 51-60, marine, coastal and freshwater resource management (paras 44-46), energy for sustainable development (paras 39-43), climate change (paras 21-30) and human settlements (paras 17-20).

 

Two years later, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, the theme for the November 2009 Commonwealth Summit was:

 

 

The host government strongly supported reaffirmation of science, technology and innovation as key to addressing the five linked crises that beset the planet: the economy, food, energy, the environment and human demography.  The 54 Commonwealth Heads of Government took up the idea with enthusiasm and in the Declaration of Port of Spain they included a section that reads as follows:

 

We recognise that many Commonwealth countries already collaborate in innovation, particularly in key areas such as information and communication technologies.  We believe that there must now be a far stronger emphasis on science, technology and innovation (STI) as key drivers of the type of economic transformation, employment generation and growth that will be required to emerge from the present economic crisis, attain our development objectives and realise our collective vision of sustainable development.

 

We therefore commit to promote increased investment in STI, as well as the rapid dissemination of technologies and ideas.  In this regard, we request the Commonwealth Secretariat to identify, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Business Council, mechanisms for financing research to advance the development and adoption of new technologies and to assist member states to access the environmental development funds managed by the World Bank and the United Nations.

 

[2]

 

This is the first time for some years that science and technology have received such prominence in the Commonwealth narrative. Without doubt the Commonwealth Secretariat and Commonwealth Business Council, with the support of many other Commonwealth organizations, will pursue this decision enthusiastically.

 

 

Moving Forward

 

Endeavour in science, technology and innovation is an area of comparative advantage in the Commonwealth, with many world class educational, academic, research and private sector institutions. Science-based networks within the Commonwealth are numerous and varied, and will benefit from support through this theme.

 

 

and food security that otherwise threaten to destabilize international relations. The transfer of technology is critical to international cooperation, and the resolution of major challenges such as climate change.

 

It is to be hoped that Commonwealth Day 2010 will stimulate new partnerships and networks, new research collaboratives, new ways of thinking, planning and delivering science and technology for people everywhere.

 

 

Messages of Support

 

 

  • The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU)
  • The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • The Royal Society (which is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year)
  • The Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • The UK Commonwealth Scholarships Commission
  • The UK Collaborative on Development Science
  • The London International Development Society
  • The Royal Society of New Zealand
  • The Council of Commonwealth Societies
  • The Royal Commonwealth Society
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry
  • The Commonwealth Engineers Council
  • The Institution of Civil Engineers

 

Commonwealth Lecture

 

The Commonwealth Lecture will take place by invitation only at the Royal Institution on 28thst

 



[1] Commonwealth Foundation (2008). . The Kampala Civil Society Statement to the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Paras 69-70. 39 pp.

 

[2] Commonwealth (2009). The Declaration of Port of Spain: Partnering for a More Equitable and Sustainable Future. Commonwealth Secretariat, London. 4 pp.