13 July 2012
In Perth, Australia last year, Commonwealth Heads of Government mandated the Secretary-General to develop a new, more-focused Strategic Plan for the Commonwealth Secretariat. It would run from January 2013 to June 2016. Work on that plan has now started.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General has signalled his intention to produce a plan that focuses far more acutely on those areas where the Secretariat has a comparative advantage vis-à-vis other international actors, and where it can make distinct, practical and measurable contributions to the Commonwealth. The new plan needs to be realistic about what can be achieved with the staff (numbering around 300 in total) and budget (in total around £50 million) available to the organisation. It must also take into account the need to plan, monitor, report on and evaluate projects in accordance with results-based management principles.
New options need to be considered for taking forward work that had, until now, been undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat. In this regard, strategic partnerships with others need to be strengthened to ensure that Commonwealth values and developmental priorities are advanced. The Secretariat will thus look to organisations within the broader Commonwealth family and beyond to be more active and closely involved in working with it going forward. It also intends to strengthen its capacity to broker the support of others to help meet Commonwealth governments’ priority needs. The new Strategic Plan also envisages innovative thinking about how work is done. Online platforms and pathways must become more fundamental to the transaction of business – whether on advocacy and consensus-building, research and analysis, capacity-building, knowledge capture and management and information-sharing, or communication within and beyond the Commonwealth community.
Against this background, the Commonwealth Secretariat welcomes any comments or suggestions from interested parties, including accredited Commonwealth organisations, on the development of the new Strategic Plan. It is expected that the Plan will be approved by a pan-Commonwealth meeting of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Board of Governors when it considers it in November this year. Contributions can be emailed to Norma MacIsaac, Head of Planning, Strategic Planning and Evaluation Division (email@example.com), up to Friday, 17 August 2012.
The best way to empower LDCs is investing on their human capital and skills development. We as LDCs need more support in private sector-led growth, infrastructure development, human resource development, knowledge transfer and regional integration to develop larger markets.
The features for the new strategic plan seem to exhaust all that is required by a good developmental plan. However, having worked in the developing countries for 41 years (36 in Tanzania and 5 in Grenada), I find that the concept of the participatory approach to community development is vital for a plan to be sustainable and I suggest that that element should feature more in the new Commonwealth Strategic plan.