On International Commonwealth Day, we celebrate our links with 53 other Commonwealth countries. I currently represent our United Kingdom on the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), which brings together cities and regions from every continent. Such city diplomacy is essential to help shape the policy context that impacts on our city and our citizens, on issues such as migration, climate change, and trade.
People who are from/have heritage links to Commonwealth countries make a huge contribution to Bristol. Some five per cent of Bristol’s population were born in other Commonwealth countries. With over 60% of the 2.4 billion people living in the Commonwealth are under the age of 30, there is real potential for young people to shape future collaboration and deliver a common future across the Commonwealth.
As we continue to work with local, national, and international partners to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies, this theme is crucial for our planet’s future. Through CLGF, I have been supporting the push for Sustainable Urbanisation and encouraging all cities and governments to follow Bristol’s lead in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
75% of emissions come from cities, but so does innovation. Necessity is proving to be the mother of design, as Amartya Sen said. We are developing more just and green economic development, alongside more efficient energy, waste, and transport infrastructure. By 2050, an extra 2.5 billion people will be living in towns and cities, with nearly 50% of those new urban dwellers projected to be in the Commonwealth.
This year, we can look forward to more opportunities to strengthen our Commonwealth ties. The Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham this summer, giving us the chance to celebrate sport and the positive role it can play locally and around the world. We will also be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Jamaican independence, with the return of St Paul’s Carnival events giving us another chance to celebrate our heritage across the Commonwealth.
One of Bristol’s newest International Ambassadors, Marti Burgess, said:
The links we have because of the Commonwealth benefit us as a city. The connections that diaspora communities living in Bristol have are very valuable and should be fostered to promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses and spur entrepreneurship. I travelled to the Caribbean as part of a DIT trade trip and realised that because of my Jamaican background, and my many visits to the Caribbean, I had a better understanding of the opportunities being presented to us.