Rotary International President, Barry Rassin, used a whistlestop tour to England to give a speech marking the Commonwealth’s 70th anniversary.
The Bahamas-based Rotary member spoke at Marlborough House at a function attended by Commonwealth High Commissioners, diplomats and representative of Commonwealth Non-Governmental Organisations.
His theme was ‘Connecting Communities: Rotary and the Sustainable Development Goals’. This was followed by a question and answer session.
Barry Rassin also participated in a round table discussion on the Commonwealth Blue Charter, which was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London last April.
The meeting was attended by Commonwealth Deputy General Secretary Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, Jeff Ardron, Ocean Governance Adviser, and Nicholas Watts, Chair of the Independent Forum of Accredited Commonwealth Organisations.
Also present was RI Director 2017-19, Brian Stoyel, Peter Moralee, Chair of the Rotary Action Group for Environment and Sustainability, and Judith Diment, Rotary International Representative to the Commonwealth.
There was an excellent discussion on environmental issues and progress on the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
Twelve Commonwealth countries are working in nine areas including:
- Aquaculture in Cyprus.
- Blue economy in Kenya.
- Coral Reef Restoration in Australia, Belize and Mauritius.
- Mangrove restoration in Sri Lanka.
- Marine plastics in UK and Vanuatu.
- Marine protected areas in the Seychelles.
- Ocean acidification in New Zealand.
- Oceans and climate change in Fiji.
- Ocean observations in Canada.
It was agreed that Rotary and the Commonwealth work together on a joint project in one country on mangroves. Jeff Ardron agreed to put together a Memorandum of Understanding.
Barry Rassin also met the High Commissioner of the Bahamas, His Excellency Ellison Greenslade at Bahamas House, and met the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, along with the High Commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis, Milton Inniss.
They shared wide-ranging discussions, including planning for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in 2020.