Setting up a one-stop shop

An online one-stop shop is being explored by the Commonwealth Secretariat to provide a wealth of information which can be accessed by anyone across the world. This information aims to plug the gap in knowledge that is unavailable in one place on a number of important topics.
The so-called ‘Partnership Platform’ will be used by anyone from a farmer looking for a partner in another Commonwealth country to help extend his or her business, to an entrepreneur wishing to explore different renewable energy options.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma used a speech at Chatham House to discuss his plan, which he argues is a vital communication and partnership tool in an increasingly globalised world.
“The fact that we are a modest body financially does not preclude us from having good ideas and globalising them,” said Mr Sharma.
“We have a strong record in making our ideas available to the world - as the first real international community after the Second World War, as initiators of debt relief for the poorest countries, as pioneers of the science of small states, and much more.”
“With solutions to development now, there has to be a digital bridge,” he explained, stressing that this is something the Commonwealth can do.
“None of this requires us to be challenging the turf of any other institution,” he added.
The Secretary-General also invoked Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘The Tipping Point’ - which says that when the time is right for an idea, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.
“The world today is a crowded place, but it is also a place for people who are contributing to that which is desirable,” he said, to emphasise the importance of such a partnership platform, and other current aspects of the Commonwealth’s work.

Adaptability, wisdom and toleration
In his speech, on 28 April 2009, Mr Sharma examined the relevance of the Commonwealth, 60 years to the day that its colonial ties came to an end, and a modern association of free and equally associated member countries was born. He looked back at the modern Commonwealth’s history, and how it was and continues to be strong and credible in the world today.
He recalled comments made by King George VI after leaders agreed the 1949 London Declaration, which outlined the Commonwealth as a free association. The King praised the leaders for their “adaptability, wisdom and toleration”.
These strengths were with the Commonwealth as it was formed, and continue to be a part of it today, Mr Sharma argued. And in an interdependent and interpenetrated world it is this ‘wisdom’ which is going to matter in the 21st Century, as the Commonwealth looks ahead to its next sixty years.

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