The CPF is the most significant gathering of civil society on the Commonwealth calendar. It offers the opportunity for learning and exchange between civil society colleagues and for engagement with policymakers. This year the CPF 2015 theme is: ‘What Makes Societies Resilient?’ and will add global value to the discourse on resilience.

Day One will explore alternative and unheard narratives around the concept of resilience. Delegates will be offered thought provoking analyses and be encouraged to debate mainstream discourses around resilience.

The afternoon will demonstrate the intersections of theory and practice ensuring that theoretical frameworks underpinning and ‘ground truthing’ of actual experiences are amply covered. Sessions will offer a critique of transformation in the context of resilience, in particular challenging the dominant economic paradigms.


Registration, networking, morning tea, take seats for Forum Opening

10:00 - 10:45

Forum Opening

Speeches from the Government of Malta, CPF Sub-Committee and Foundation Director.

10:45 - 11:45

Keynote Address: What Makes Societies Resilient?

Environmental Activist, Author and Founder of Navdanya, Dr Vandana Shiva.

The keynote address will set the tone of the forum, begin to explore why resilience needs to be examined and demonstrate why the lens of participatory governance is useful in the exploration? Why do other responses to build resilience continue to remain in the margins?

11:45 - 13:15

PLENARY: Deconstructing Resilience

This discussion will build on the keynote address and begin to deepen the exploration of alternative paradigms on resilience. How do societies become resilient? Resilience for whom? What elements or dimensions characterise resilient societies? What governance issues or failures contribute to vulnerability? What power structures, policies or processes promote or hinder resilience? Is building resilience as currently constructed limited to short-term solutions? What role does culture play in enabling resilience? What are the intersections of sustainability and resilience?


Challenging Dominant Economic Paradigms

14:15 - 16:00

PERSPECTIVES: Does the mainstream concept of resilience avoid substantive transformation?

This panel will explore the social, political and cultural dimensions of substantive transformation. In that respect, can resilience lead to real transformation? Is the mainstream concept of ‘resilience’ a veneer for keeping things the same?

CASES: What to measure? Alternatives to GDP

These cases will showcase new measures for human fulfilment and alternatives to the growth-GDP centric model of development

  • Vanuatu’s National Development Plan
  • Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness
  • Happy Planet Index
  • UN World Happiness Report

CASES: Indigenous knowledge as a driver of resilience

The worldviews of indigenous communities have been deeply challenged by colonisation.

How do these worldviews inform responses to building resilience?

Cases will show that indigenous knowledge is foundational to resilience.


16:15 - 17:45

CASES: Renewable resilience: Sustainable energy in practice

This session will look at how to ensure communities have a voice in deciding on local and global energy production and use, and explore the logic that informs these responses.

CASES: Planning for resilient urbanisation

The session will cite people’s participation as an essential element of planning for sustainable cities and human settlements.


Acceptance of delegate case studies/pitches for presentation slots in day three. The submissions will be reviewed and those that are most popular will be selected to present on day three will be informed at lunch time on day two.


Kalpana’s Warriors
 exhibition launch

By celebrated photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam.

An opportunity for delegates to network and debrief on the day’s discussions, accompanied by a wine tasting sponsored by the Maria Rosa Wine Estate.

Throughout Day Two, links between resilience and responsive and inclusive governance will be explored. The sessions will tackle different aspects of governing as a principle that organises societies by enabling diversity, ensuring equal access to resources and services and bottom-up responses to challenging environments.

A ‘Small States Room’ will host a number of different thematic sessions with a focus on small states issues.

Responsive and Inclusive Governance

09:00 - 10:30

SMALL STATES PERSPECTIVES: Climate resilience in small states

Panel will discuss local and indigenous approaches in small states to building climate resilience. There will also be an exploration of messaging and collective advocacy from SIDS, including country narratives of impact on them from the high carbon footprints of other States.

LGBTI POLICY DIALOGUE: Resilient societies: Safeguard the security of all people in all their diversity

An opportunity to bring together a diverse range of policymakers and LGBTI activists and advocates from across the Commonwealth to investigate the range of policy options available to improve LGBTI equality.

PERSPECTIVES: Migration and resilience

This session aims to explore the key reasons behind the current narratives on migration and identify key issues that need to be addressed to transform them.


11:00 - 12:45

SMALL STATES POLICY DIALOGUE: Transformative education and sustainable development in Small States: Building Resilience through skills and livelihoods

The session can be an important vehicle in strengthening the educational processes collectively – as government and civil society – in creating a different world to the status quo that has been inherited.

PERSPECTIVES: Women, agency and responsive governance

An exploration of the contradictory neoliberal narratives in regard to women, agency and women’s needs. On the one hand, individual choices and the free market are fundamental principles used by current governing systems to organise access to resources and service provision.

PERSPECTIVES: Cultural responses to conflict 

This session will explore dynamic cultural responses to promoting understanding, mediating conflict and enabling peaceful outcomes. It will also look into how civil society challenges war narratives in the interconnected arenas of public discouse such as politics, activism and the arts. In doing so it will consider forms of engagement that are able to include those marginalised, whether by gender, cultural minroirty, economic disempowerement or geographic location.


14:00 - 15:45

PLENARY: Equity and resilience: Access to critical resources and services for all

Drawing on the day’s discussions, this session will look at why equal access to critical financial, human and natural resources and services is so important for building resilience and why inequality in access is a barrier to resilience and perpetuates vulnerability. How is access to resources and services linked? What is the importance and role of national policy space and global policy coordination for ensuring access? Why is access to incomes, living wages, livelihoods, credit and banking, essential for providing economic security and an ability to cope with crises? How can secure access to and ownership of land, water, forests and other natural resources for communities build resilience? How can we ensure health and education (including skill building) services, safe and enabling work conditions, and address societal discrimination, violence and exploitation in a just, equitable and also gender-sensitive manner?


16:00 - 17:30

SMALL STATES CASES: Colourful economies

In this session, green and blue economy case studies from Small States will be presented and discussed. Are they still overly-centred on growth? Can technological improvements alone lead to resilient economies? Or do consumptive patterns need to be changed? How will governance systems demonstrate inclusive responses to key principles supported by colourful economies?

PERSPECTIVES: Going ‘Glocal’

2015 is a landmark year for global agreements. Financing for Development, SDGs, and COP21 could present new frameworks for development. How will these global frameworks impact local alternative responses to building resilience?

How is implementation being negotiated? Is there a disconnect from global to local? Do global frameworks erode national sovereignty?

PERSPECTIVES: Responses to food challenges

The global food system is being questioned by a growing movement of people calling for communities to have control over the way food is produced, traded and consumed. But are food sovereignty and food security complementary? Who is food insecure? Can different food production models feed the world’s growing population? And what are the governance and policy issues that are involved?


Film screening

SIMSHAR – Malta’s official entry, 87th Academy Awards, Best Foreign Language Film.

“Malta’s first Oscar entry is a beautifully shot, dark drama…with a gut wrenching twist,” The Wrap. 

Simshar is based on the true story of a Maltese fishing family which shocked the island in 2008, as well as the incident in the same year of a Turkish ship rescuing stranded migrants between Italy and Malta, and neither country allowing disembarkation. Simshar has received multiple awards and continues to be shown in film festivals worldwide.

The screening will be followed by Q and A with the film’s director, Rebecca Cremona.

Day Three aims to synthesize the Forum’s key outcomes and to put theory into practice. How do we make it happen? The plenary panel discussion and afternoon workshops will build on the discussions throughout the forum and go deeper into the governance factors that contribute to resilience. Focus will be made on the four key threads of inquiry: transformation, inclusion and responsiveness, transparency and accountability and gender. Attention to the role that civil society can and should play in promoting resilience will also be explored. Augmenting the day’s analysis will be a visual synthesis of the themes, issues and recommended actions. The day will culminate in the presentation of the declaration for civil society.

09:00 - 10:30

Delegate-led Sharing Sessions

LGBTI PERSPECTIVES: Resilient societies celebrating inclusion and diversity

This session will discuss initiatives that have led to inclusive governance towards marginalised LGBTI communities and will shed light different narratives developed on LGBTI globally.

PERSPECTIVES: Building resilient health systems for an ageing population

Exploring good practices on building resilient health systems. Speakers are invited to make policy recommendation on how to build effective and resilient health systems.


10:45 - 12:00

Plenary: Synthesis of CPF 2015

This session will begin with a synthesis of days one and two, drawing on the collated outcomes of the Forum’s discussion. Synthesis will be structured around the four key threads of inquiry.

Key questions and issues drawn from days one and two synthesis will be discussed and responded to by the panel with the objective of building a governance framework for resilience. The interactive exploration will bring the intersections between theory and practice.

12:00 - 12:30

Forum closing



People’s Forum Commonwealth Secretary General all candidates dialogue with civil society representatives.

House of Representatives, Valletta.

Day Four will feature events taking place on Malta’s sister island, Gozo.

07:45 – 08:45 Departure from Corinthia Hotel, St George’s Bay

09:00 – 09:20 Ferry trip from Cirkewwa Terminal to Gozo

10:00 – 10:45 Plenary Session at Gozo College Boys’ Secondary School, Victoria

Opening Address by Hon Anton Refalo

Speech by Mr Michael Grech, Chairperson, Gozo Regional Committee

11:00 – 12:00 Visit to Gozitano

Welcome speech by Dr Joseph Grech

Coffee break sponsored by Gozitano

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch at Ta’ Mena

In the presence of Hon Justyne Caruana (TBC)

14:30 – 16:30 Visit to Magro Brothers

Presentation by Mr Joseph Woods: Gozo – An Innovation Society

17:15 – 17:35 Return Ferry trip to Malta

18:30 Arrival at Hotel

As there will be limited seats available, registration for Gozo Day will close at 4PM on 23 November. Please sign-up at the Help Desk located in the Foyer. Priority will be given to international delegates.


Short story workshop

Commonwealth Writers will host a closed short story workshop for Maltese writers run by Clare Azzopardi and Jacob Ross. Attendance is subject to successful application. 

Download programme

Threads of Inquiry

Throughout CPF 2015 there will be four main overlapping threads of inquiry that will be woven through the discussions and debates. These four threads are critical to the Foundation’s definition of participatory governance and will be used to interrogate the debates on the concept of resilience, what makes societies resilient, and the root causes of vulnerability.

Transformation will be explored from different perspectives within the lenses of participatory governance to include the social, political, and cultural dimensions of substantive transformation. What are the transformative approaches and governance systems needed to make societies resilient? Is building resilience as currently constructed limited to short-term solutions? Or does resilience imply a return to the status quo?

Inclusive societies enable diversity and the participation of all sectors and groups in decision-making. They address equal access to resources and services and are responsive to the demands of all. What are examples of inclusive and responsive economic policies that promote resilience? What governance issues or failures contribute to causing / exacerbating vulnerability?

Transparency and accountability of institutions is fundamental to participatory governance and power relations. We want to know how the voice of those most affected by risk should be accounted for. What policies and practices must be adopted that can change the way institutions work with marginalised groups?  How can governance systems promote more open, honest dialogue?

Gender will be explored through the lens of power imbalance. The forum will interrogate how issues of resilience, access to resources, systemic challenges that exacerbate inequality, and hegemonic narratives impact differently on women and men and shape mindsets and policy frameworks. How can the concept of resilience transform gender relations?

Session Formats

The forum’s outputs will help shape civil society advocacy and frame engagement with institutions at a national, regional and international level. For example, documentation from CPF 2013 was used as reference material at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. It is envisaged that CPF 2015 outputs will be particularly helpful as civil society organisations consider the ways in which the new global development agreements will be implemented.

The forum’s major programming falls into four format categories.

Perspective sessions will be used to delve deep into particular issues, explore different viewpoints and debate ideas.

Policy dialogue sessions are specifically targeted at identifying key asks on a specific policy issue wherein civil society can engage directly with government policymakers.

Cases sessions are focused around concrete and specific case studies and good practices from Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries.

The forum also has built-in flexibility and has allocated a number of open spaces to share experiences with each other.