Commonwealth leaders set to meet for the first time in four years


Leaders from 54 countries will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, this week for the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the sixth time the event has been hosted by an African country.

The week-long summit is expected to attract over 5,000 participants from government, business, and civil society under the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’.

Meetings begin in the Rwandan capital on Sunday 19 June with four forums – covering youth, women, business and civil society – culminating with the official Retreat for leaders at the Intare Conference Arena on Saturday 25 June. At the Leaders Retreat – unique to the Commonwealth – Heads of Government meet privately to discuss collaboration on global and Commonwealth priorities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland QC said:

“Since the last time the Commonwealth family came together for CHOGM in 2018, the onset of COVID-19, new and ongoing conflicts, and the accelerated impact of climate change have fundamentally altered the global landscape and tested our resilience.

“This succession of events has changed lives, livelihoods, communities and economies. We know that in times of crises, the poor and most vulnerable are disproportionately affected. Many development gains, likewise, have been thrown off track, while others have regressed.

“That’s why with eight years to go until the Sustainable Development Goals ‘endgame,’ leaders at CHOGM are committed to harnessing lessons learned, working together and taking inspiration from the innovative solutions that we’ve seen emerge over the past few years.

“The Commonwealth is a bedrock for member states, rooted in a shared history, collective aspirations and progressive solutions. At a time when multilateralism is under serious strain, CHOGM offers a vital forum to deliver the objectives of member states and an opportunity to draw upon all the talents of the member states to deliver a smarter, more resilient, prosperous, confident and sustainable Commonwealth.”

A Ministerial Meeting for the Commonwealth’s 32 Small Island Developing States is scheduled for Wednesday 22 June at which economic vulnerability, climate action and access to finance and debt sustainability are expected to top the agenda. The Commonwealth has a long history championing the needs of Small States, which face unique challenges related to climate change and external economic shocks.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group – which assesses countries at risk of breaching fundamental political values – will also meet on 22 June.

On Thursday 23 June, Foreign Ministers will convene ahead of the main CHOGM sessions to review the leaders’ agenda and receive outcomes from the four forums for consideration by Heads. The traditional Commonwealth Sports Breakfast, also on Thursday 23 June, will showcase preparations for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which begin on 28 July.

Several side meetings will take place during CHOGM and cover topics including violence against women and girls, climate change, access to justice and sustainable ocean protection and economic development.
The formal Opening Ceremony takes place on Friday 24 June at the Kigali Convention Centre and is followed by closed-door Executive Sessions at which leaders will consider a range of topical issues including post COVID-19 economic recovery, debt sustainability, climate change, trade and food security.

The Women’s, Youth, People and Business Forums will run concurrently at different venues in Kigali. Participants will include Commonwealth leaders, government ministers, members of the British royal family, senior UN figures, business leaders, civil society activists and literary figures.

The Women’s Forum will explore the Commonwealth’s role in achieving gender equality in line with UN aspirations and the crucial role women have to play in politics, business and peace building. The theme for 2022 is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Transforming for Gender Equality’.

The Youth Forum, held under the theme ‘Taking Charge of Our Future’ will bring 350 young people together to network, exchange ideas, build skills, and generate solutions to the most pressing youth-related challenges. These priorities will be cemented in a Youth Declaration at the end of the three-day event and will be presented to leaders The six-point plan will be implemented by the Commonwealth Youth Council and youth-led organisations across the Commonwealth.

The People’s Forum is the single largest gathering of civil society representatives in the Commonwealth. It is aimed at discussing solutions and building solidarity around some of the most pressing issues facing Commonwealth people, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis. This year’s forum will address the theme: Our Health, Our Planet, Our Future.

The Business Forum is a unique platform for dialogue, bringing together business and government leaders from across the Commonwealth. Hosted as a partnership between the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) and the Government of Rwanda, the Forum will discuss a range of issues affecting businesses across the Commonwealth with a focus on ‘A Global Reset’, dealing with the impact of the pandemic and the Commonwealth’s role in rebuilding and reinvigorating the global economy.

CHOGM 2022 was originally due to take place in 2020 but has twice been postponed due to COVID-19. The last country to host CHOGM in 2018 was the UK and the host country for CHOGM 2024 will be announced at this week’s summit.