The national motto: ‘Together we aspire, together we achieve’, was established by the late first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams, when Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence in 1962. Yesterday, the Queen delivered her message to the assembled Commonwealth leaders as she formally opened the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.
“The motto of Trinidad and Tobago says,‘Together we aspire, together we achieve’. There could be no better description of the Commonwealth’s ethos and no better guideline for achieving CHOGM’s stated goal of a more equitable and sustainable future,” Her Majesty declared.
Stating the Commonwealth can be proud of the fact that in each of its 60 decades of existence, “it has shaped the international response to emerging global challenges. On the eve of the UN Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, the Commonwealth has an opportunity to lead once more,” the Queen emphasised.
While observing that the threat to the environment was not new, Her Majesty said: “It is now a global challenge which will continue to affect the security and stability of millions for years to come. Many of those affected are among the most vulnerable and many of the people who least will be able to withstand the adverse effects of climate change live in the Commonwealth.”
The Queen said while the Commonwealth can be pleased with how far it has come over the last 60 years, and how true it remained to its origins, “this does not mean we should become complacent or rest on past successes.
“Like any good organisation, we must continue to pay close attention to the things that give us distinctive character,” Her Majesty said. Noting that one of the Commonwealth’s core strengths lay in the commitment to common goals and values, the Queen said its members shared a pledge to the pursuit of “peace, liberty and progress” which remains as relevant today as it did when her father King George VI helped to enshrine the London Declaration in 1949.
Her Majesty also urged the assembled leaders to remember that the Commonwealth’s future lay with the one billion persons in the Commonwealth, “who are under 25 years of age.”
“The Commonwealth must show that it is relevant to and supportive of our young people, who need to be convinced that the Commonwealth can help them to realise their ambitions,” the Queen stated. Emphasising that the Commonwealth must continue to strengthen the resilience of its smaller members to deal with global challenges, Her Majesty declared: “It is not enough to look within the boundaries of the Commonwealth. In a world where political, economic and environmental problems and opportunities cross continents, the Commonwealth will also need to prove its relevance beyond its own borders, and develop a truly global perspective.”