Commonwealth civil society meets to debate ‘What makes societies resilient?’
The Commonwealth People’s Forum 2015 (CPF), the largest gathering of civil societies pan Commonwealth was launched this morning in Malta, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Mr Kamalesh Shama and the Prime Minister of Malta Dr Joseph Muscat.
Vandana Shiva opened the CPF 2015 with a stirring call of “resilience is life”, urging delegates to embrace resilience as a means for the world to break out of vicious cycles of violence and competition. Dr Shiva also spoke on the need for humility and internal reflection as we ponder some of the challenges facing the global community today. Encouragement for constructive debate in the Forum was opened, with Dr Shiva posing the question of “whether resilience leads to transforming imbalances of power, or acts as a cover for maintaining the status quo?”
Commenting on the speech, the director of the Commonwealth Foundation, the main organiser of the People’s Forum, Vijay Krishnarayan, said “Dr Shiva reminded us that resilience is an ageless discourse. We need to understand systems related to resilience and consequences of our actions, but we also accept with all humility our agency”.
Discussions with more than 400 plus registered members of civil society from across 39 commonwealth countries will focus on the nexus of resilience with governance and societal development. According to Krishnarayan, “Resilience is often just thought about withstanding stress and natural catastrophe. Yet we at the foundation feel that it is much more than that. It is a function of existing political, social, economic and cultural institutional structures. This is what we want to unpack over the next few days using the People’s forum”. Sessions will explore resilience from different perspectives including looking at urbanisation; small states and using cultures as a lens.
Commenting earlier on in the welcome session, the chair of the CPF subcommittee Mrs Jacqueline Micallef Grimaud spoke of the valuable space the forum offered for unheard voices from the Commonwealth being able to be heard at a policy level whilst building consensus. “CPF2015 would like to break the silence by rallying and listening to the voices of commonwealth citizens but more importantly by generating ideas and messages on governance for resilience”.
The People’s Forum in Malta will also be pioneering real time policy dialogues with decision makers as well as interactions with parliamentarians from the host country. The Forum will end with specific proposals for civil society engagement with Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers and initiatives for the Government of Malta as incoming Commonwealth Chair-in-Office to take forward.