A South-African national with a wealth of experience in the international sphere and local government, Greg joins the RCS at a key time. The UK has just hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and has Chair in Office, HRH The Duke of Sussex has been appointed ambassador for the Commonwealth Youth, and we as a Society celebrate our 150th year.
We sat down with Greg to ask him a few questions about what he sees as the challenges and opportunities for The Royal Commonwealth Society in the future.
Welcome to The Royal Commonwealth Society! Could you give readers a brief description of your background and why you decided to become Chief Executive of the Society?
The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and the Society have shared offices for some time as part of the ‘Commonwealth Hub’ and an alignment of the leadership across both organisations (while maintaining two separate organisations and brands) has been a logical next step to this process of greater integration across Commonwealth Organisations. I have in the past only worked in two sectors – Local Government and Charities/Non-governmental organisations. My work across both has been global with the Charity work focussing on civil society capacity-building, gender, inclusivity, human rights, and HIV/AIDS.
Could you sum up in a sentence or two your vision for the RCS?
The RCS is here to demonstrate and strengthen the value and values of the Commonwealth at a citizen and community level. We often think of the Commonwealth as a political (and historic) concept but the values of the Commonwealth, if adopted, owned and acted upon by the citizens of the Commonwealth, would result in a better world. The RCS strives to do exactly this and to tackle some of the important areas such as inclusion, creating cohesive and integrated communities and championing women’s rights.
The Charity sector is becoming ever increasingly populated. What would you say was the RCS’ USP?
A key area for the RCS is ensuring that young people across the Commonwealth have opportunities to be leaders – leaders at a community level, leaders in development and political leaders; and to be leaders of today, not just for tomorrow. In all of the thematic areas in which the RCS works, a youth component is what sets the RCS apart.
We had the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the UK earlier this year. As the UK is now Chair in Office for the Commonwealth, what opportunities do you think this brings?
There are opportunities for organisations like the RCS, to support the Chair in Office to track delivery on CHOGM agreements, particularly where they involve civil society and communities, and to support the process of moving seamlessly from one CHOGM to the next, with the Rwanda CHOGM in 2020 building upon the outcomes of the 2018 CHOGM. It is imperative that civil society plays a meaningful role in tracking delivery against targets and promises, between the two CHOGM meetings.
What are the challenges for the charity sector going forwards?
Funding is always an issue, but the charity sector also needs to be adaptable to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. Maintaining relevance, fostering innovation and engaging in partnership for delivery are for me, the three main focus areas for the RCS in the future.
I look forward to addressing all three in the future and fully aim to ensure that the RCS is maintained as a relevant and progressive charity.