Royal Commonwealth Society

Thirty-Three RCS Branches Meet in London

Over 80 RCS members from 33 branches in 20 countries were in London in October 2016 for an International Meeting of RCS Branches to share experiences and knowledge, discuss the challenges facing branches and opportunities for expanding the network.

Australia was well-represented with 16 delegates from ACT, Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.

Representing the ACT were the President, Kanti Jinna and Mrs Jyoti Jinna and Council members Dr Elmo Jacob and Mr Colin Milner.

The three-day meeting was preceded by a two-day Youth Assembly.

As the RCS London Branch was in the process of moving into its new headquarters in Pall Mall, the High Commissions of New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria hosted various sessions in their chanceries.

Functions were held at the High Commissions of Australia and Malta, the House of Lords and Buckingham Palace and there was a tour of Westminster Abbey. This was the first International Meeting of RCS Branches since that in Kuala Lumpur in 2011.

Queen's Canopy in Australia

Australia has committed to planting 20 million native trees by 2020 as its contribution to The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation projects involving all Commonwealth member countries.

The Queen’s Canopy was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in 2015. Its purpose is to create a physical and lasting legacy to mark the Queen’s leadership of the Commonwealth while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.

Australia’s contribution to the Canopy aims to re-establish green corridors and urban forests on public and private land. Britain has dedicated 200 square miles of its National Forrest, Canada 6.5 million hectares of its Great Bear Rain Forest in British Columbia, while Singapore has dedicated six hectares of its Botanic Gardens. By the end of 2016, 20 countries from all five regions had committed to the Canopy project with more countries expected to join. In the AsiaPacific region, this includes Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Australia.

The Canopy project involves partnerships between RCS London, Cool Earth—a UK-based charity that works with indigenous villages to halt forest destruction—and the Commonwealth Forestry Association.

Gender Equality in Commonwealth

The Australian Government has provided $340,000 for the Royal Commonwealth Society in London to promote youth leadership and gender equality in the Commonwealth.

Part of the funds will be used to train young Commonwealth citizens as skilled advocates for gender equality in local, national and international politics.

The RCS will also conduct research into young peoples’ experiences of gender-based violence and how they might effectively address the issue. Much of the work will be carried out through the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN).

The funding announcement was made by Natasha Stott-Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, at the Commonwealth Women’s Ministerial meeting in Apia, Samoa, on 7 September 2016.

Australia has previously provided $320,000 in an earlier phase of funding to support the CYGEN initiative on gender equality.