After careful consideration the morning sessions of the Forum on Wednesday 6th of June have been cancelled and will not take place. The event will therefore commence with lunch at 1300hrs followed by the originally planned afternoon sessions beginning at 1400hrs.
Against a background of continuing financial turmoil, increasing unemployment and growing inequality it is understandable that many are questioning the equity and sustainability of our current capitalist system. These voices are not just the unemployed or disadvantaged, but also some of our biggest business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever who have called for a more responsible, inclusive and caring capitalism, which is driven by more than the bottom line.
While the Commonwealth Business Council remains committed to private sector led development and ‘making globalisation work for all’, for our second Commonwealth Economic Forum we have adopted the theme “reshaping capitalism for global prosperity and sustainable growth”. The Forum will focus on highlighting the positive impact business has on society. It will address economic policy issues around free and fair trade, employment and skills, support for small and medium sized enterprises, food security and short term decision making. It will also focus on areas where businesses can make a difference such as socially responsible investment, supply chain management, environmental sustainability and frugal innovation for pro‐poor growth. Above all it will consider how we can establish more effective public private partnerships for the benefit of all.
I believe that the Commonwealth, a diverse organisation of 54 countries, both developed and developing, spread over 6 continents, can play an important role in defining a better capitalism and also ensuring that a new model is adopted as widely as possible. Since our foundation in 1997, the Commonwealth Business Council has played an active role in improving corporate governance standards in developing countries, establishing business led anti‐corruption programmes and encouraging companies to adopt meaningful CSR programmes in the countries in which they work.