Terrace Reception sponsored by CFCC Patron, Rt Hon Lord Howell of Guildford
Speaker: The Lord Marland, Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council
For the Annual CFCC Diplomatic Reception, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other diplomats from Afghanistan to Angola, Finland to Gambia and Jordan to Japan, gathered on a summer’s evening on the House of Lords Terrace.
Lord Howell, President of the CFCC, opened proceedings, expressing his congratulations to the Spanish ambassador and new Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz.
Lord Howell affirmed the importance of the Commonwealth, a network he described as a silver thread running through the entire geopolitical system.
A gigantic network growing all the time, with new members joining and established members growing in influence. He called on the example of the Shanghai Co-operation and that at the centre of the agreement was India, one of the key countries of the Commonwealth and one of the biggest countries in the world, moving to a new position in geopolitics.
Lord Howell urged that it was more essential than ever that Britain worked not in a father figure role or as an originator, but as part of the biggest network in the world of 2.6bn people. He reminded us that it is a network we are lucky to be part of, it gives us our exceptionalism and is our gateway to Asia and the world growth of the future.
Lord Howell introduced Lord Marland, whose energy he attributes to changing the economic importance of the Commonwealth; and reflected that he was a brilliant operator in Government and as a Trade Envoy, who now put his energy into transforming Commonwealth trade networks.
Taking to the podium, Lord Marland imagined what his old headmaster might think if he were to see him now, surrounded by the great eminence of the diplomatic corps and concluded that he would be gobsmacked.
He paid tribute to the ‘great guru of international relations’ Lord Howell for his support to him and the Commonwealth endeavour.
He remarked that everyone in the room shared a common cause through a life of public service, to ensure we leave the world we came into, and the world that we are part of, a better place.
He said it was a huge privilege to be amongst our guests. On his travels, Lord Marland observed that every country was experiencing the same economic turmoil as we recovered from the enormous financial, personal, mental health and business costs of Covid, accentuated by the war in Ukraine.
He affirmed that it has made us focus on two of the other big issues that confront our time, those of food security and energy security.
He acknowledged that we would also see a huge surge in population, as he noted that 70% of those living in the Commonwealth were under the age of 30 and 70% of people in African Commonwealth countries were also under 30.
The combination of that, alongside recessions, AI and climate change he evaluated, were challenges incumbent on us to solve quickly.
Trade, through communication, investment and cross fertilisation, was the proven way forward; and the proven way of helping countries out of poverty. It is why the work of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council is so important.
He cautioned however, that in order to make investment opportunities and trade concrete, it was necessary for our countries to enforce the rule of law; be a secure and safe place so that workforces could operate; and that there was transparency in the deals done.
He took comfort that in the room and in our countries, were excellent people who wanted to make this work. Who had the skills and desire through public service to make it happen.
He applauded our guests in advance for everything they had done and were about to do to change the nation states that we live in.
CFCC Chairman Baroness Neville-Jones, opened the floor to a range of lively questions, before concluding the evening with a vote of thanks.