By Hilmy Cader –
For an emerging nation like Sri Lanka, the CHOGM provides a perfect platform to promote the country as a destination for FDI, Tourism and as a source of Exports. The Government has made a significant investment in preparing the nation for this event, which will certainly have the world’s media attention. I will not get into the debate about the level of expenditure for CHOGM, because it has already been made! What is important now is to ensure that Sri Lanka gets the best return on this investment. For this to happen, the relevant authorities like the EDB, BOI, CSE, Tourist Board, Tea Board and the Foreign Missions must be set measurable targets. The heads of these institutions should be able to demonstrate, in 6 to 12 months that quantifiable progress has been made towards these targets. Perhaps a TV show at which they will present tangible results achieved.
What gets measured gets done!
I am a strong believer and practitioner in asking the very basic questions and always challenging it with my favourite question ‘So what?’ The Commonwealth did not escape this test! I started asking myself: Who is the Commonwealth? Why do they exist? What do they do? (which every organization should ask!). To me, the answer is simple: it is an ‘Old Boys Club’ of the countries that (Great) Britain conquered and colonized. It has no geographical relevance; neither does it have any economic or political relevance. Can you really be a global influencer in today’s world – if USA, Japan, China, Germany, France, Brazil, Russia and Saudi Arabia are all not members of your ‘Club’? So, how can an ‘alliance’ that lacks relevance and influence make a difference?
The effectiveness of any organization can only be measured by the impact on its constituency. For an association that has existed for 72 years, what has the Commonwealth achieved? The Commonwealth constitutes 27% of the world’s population, but only 14% of the world’s GDP. Close to 550 million people in the Commonwealth countries live below the poverty line.
Neither are the other socio-economic indicators any better. Think of the challenges faced by Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, and Rwanda for example – you cannot blame it all on the Commonwealth, but what has been the Commonwealth’s contribution to alleviate these human sufferings? I go back to the questions: What is the Commonwealth’s reason for existence?
The Carbon Footprint
Over 50 World Leaders and their grand entourages will be fly in their ‘gas guzzling’ jets and partake in ‘high energy’ events – can you just imagine the carbon footprint they will leave behind? This also applies to all such global ‘talk shops’, be it Davos, G20 or the UN General Assembly, where grand speeches are made, applauded and then the message forgotten!
My point is: Can you not use technology and connectivity to achieve the same impact? This leads me to the final point.
After incurring all these expenditure (and larger ‘hole’ in the ozone), what will we achieve at the end of this summit and as a consequence of this? Whose responsibility was it in the Commonwealth to be accountable for the outcome of the last summit? With so much of human suffering in the Commonwealth (without access to the very basics of life that you and I take for granted), how can we justify such expenditure by 50 + countries?
Finally, I find it difficult to understand why it is called ‘Commonwealth’?! What the world really needs is more common wealth and of course more common sense!
*Hilmy Cader, CEO – MTI Consulting – Hilmy Cader can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org