Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very privileged to be here. This year is very special for us because we are observing the 100th Anniversary of the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman throughout the year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bangladesh wants a more relevant Commonwealth and for that purpose a better connected Commonwealth – connected in partnerships of ideas and imaginations, connected in trade and investment, in wider economic activities, common or joint projects, programmes and constructive multitudes of visions. Bangladesh always expects a Commonwealth capable of playing a pioneering role – the role of an enlightened world-body demonstrating models and pathways to the world with the best of its examples and practices rather than preaching.
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,
We are in an age of globalization, dynamic innovations and profound transformations and if we remain static, remain disconnected and do not have a shared vision of prosperity we will soon become irrelevant. When we talk about connectedness, we mean connectedness within the Commonwealth and beyond. We mean being connected in terms of values and instilling amongst ourselves a sense of belongingness into the Commonwealth and behave within the fold truly as a family recognizing its diversity.
We must have a fresh look at our organisation and rethink about what are its priorities and how it is trying to deliver on those along with the working mode and mechanisms of the organisation. We must prepare our Organisation for the dawn of tomorrow – a reformed and ready Commonwealth.
Commonwealth’s present state and the context of Brexit are prompting us to explore new possibilities and to think, how to transform the Organisation and make it more responsive to the evolving international realities and the needs and expectations of the majority of its developing member states. The world has changed, the historical context has shifted, and the member states’ roles in, values and expectations from the Commonwealth have also undergone significant evolution. We have always, therefore, been emphasizing on a comprehensive reform in which there has to be readjustment of roles and reorientation of priorities and focus of the Commonwealth bodies which may include, for example, establishing the CPA in upholding, protecting and promoting political values of the Commonwealth and enhancing its relevance to the people at the grass roots.
I have three issues to mention. Firstly, Commonwealth must be capable to meet the aspirations of the Commonwealth people. Secondly, among the fifty four Commonwealth countries nearly 32 countries are facing erratic climate changes and many of them are under great threats including Bangladesh. Commonwealth platform should take a stand together for helping all those climate vulnerable countries. We are lucky that Bangladesh can help in this area. Currently Bangladesh is the Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. We in Bangladesh are setting, within few weeks, a regional Global Adaptation Center in Dhaka. We have also prepared a comprehensive plan known as Delta Plan. In these areas, I hope the Commonwealth can join and work together. This climate issue should be an issue of Commonwealth platform because many Commonwealth countries are suffering because of the climate change.
In addition, for more connected Commonwealth it is time we should be seeking new partnerships or alliances and make the best out of Commonwealth accredited organisations, relevant civil society organisations (CSOs) and the private sector with their enhanced and deeper involvement and role. There can also be professional and sectoral associations across the Commonwealth, geared to development and sustainability, for study, survey, sectoral master plans with appropriate plan of action under strategic financing initiatives and technology transfer schemes.
Commonwealth countries can take a stand to reduce violence and wars and help stopping uprooting of people due to either violence or climate changes. They can preach a Culture of Peace. We have to create a mind-set of tolerance in this world where venom of hatred and intolerance is being promoted by many quarters. We should create a mind-set of respect and tolerance for others irrespective of religion, color, background or ethnicity and if you can create such mind-set, then we can have sustainable peace and stability across nations. I recommend the Commonwealth platform to play a meaningful role here since we share same values, past history and look for a better world.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina firmly believes in the deepening of physical, digital, and B2B connectivity amongst the 54 diverse Commonwealth economies representing a market of 2.3 billion people from across 5 Continents. With her strong political commitment towards regional economic connectivity and integration, Bangladesh has ambitiously pushed for road, rail, maritime, energy and digital connectivity with our south and Southeast Asian neighbours that have boosted regional economic growth and prosperity in the recent past.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We believe in synergy. And we see a great possibility of synergy in the way that we could connect, reconnect and network in meaningful growth and prosperity of Commonwealth. We must remember that the aspirations of our peoples in all our countries have significantly changed. Our boys and girls now dream of conquering not only the Mars and the Moon, but also, the out reaches of the universe. We are a nation of victors. We have dreams and our kids have big dreams. This is true among most of the Commonwealth countries. Let us think for the future not for the past. Let me conclude by saying ‘past is past, future is mystery and present is a gift of God’. Let us work together now to energise our dreams.
I thank you all.
Long live the Commonwealth