The Commonwealth offers opportunities for the people, governments and institutions of this richly diverse worldwide family of nations to connect and cooperate at many levels through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill. These are being celebrated in the 2019 theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’, and in a broad range of Commonwealth events and activities through the year.
2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Commonwealth as it is configured today, with old ties and new links enabling cooperation towards social, political and economic development which is both inclusive and sustainable. The values and principles around which the 53 member countries and their 2.4 billion people connect are brought together in the Commonwealth Charter.
The theme ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ encourages collaboration to protect natural resources and the environment – particularly, with the adoption in 2018 of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, of the ocean which connects so many member countries. Under the Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment there is increased cooperation on trade and investment towards inclusive economic empowerment so that all people, particularly women, youth and marginalised communities, are able to share the fruit of progress and prosperity.
A new Commonwealth theme is proposed each year by representatives of the Commonwealth civil society organisations to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, and presented for approval by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth. It guides activities through the year, including events to mark Commonwealth Day, which since 1977 has been celebrated annually on the second Monday in March.
On 11 March this year people in Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe will observe the day with a range of activities, including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag raising ceremonies, street parties and cultural events.
In London, where the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters are based, there will be a multicultural, multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey drawing together testimonies, performances and readings from throughout the Commonwealth. The event will feature a procession of Commonwealth flags, with young flag bearers representing each of the 53 nations of the Commonwealth.