A PhD researcher from the University of Huddersfield’s Global Disaster Resilience Centre (GDRC) was invited by His Majesty The King and The Queen Consort to attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace and more, in celebration of Commonwealth Day 2023.
Malith Senevirathne is a PhD student at the GDRC, within the University’s School of Applied Sciences and a Research Assistant for the CORE project (sCience and human factOr for Resilient sociEty), funded by the European Commission. As well as being a special guest at the reception he was also invited to the Commonwealth Day Service of Celebrations at Westminster Abbey and took part in the Commonwealth Youth Leaders’ Summit.
The GDRC conducts global multi-disciplinary research to educate and improve the resilience of nations and communities in the aftermath of a disaster, recognising that as rising population and built environments become more extensive and interconnected, the world’s exposure to hazards is increasing too.
Commonwealth Day 2023
The Commonwealth Day reception, hosted at Buckingham Palace by The King and The Queen Consort on Monday 13 March, marked the first to be celebrated with The King as Head of the Commonwealth.
The celebrations were a fitting way to recognise a momentous year, the Commonwealth Year of Peace, the Commonwealth Year of Youth, and the 10th anniversary of the signing of the historic Commonwealth Charter by Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Commonwealth Day 2023 exhibited the theme, ‘Forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’ and was celebrated by member states of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The celebrations were organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society and served as an opportunity to promote democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and equality for the 2.5 billion citizens of the Commonwealth.
The day highlighted the tremendous contributions of young people and all those who contribute selflessly to promote the values of the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is made up of 56 countries, with 60% of its population being young people and Malith believes there is still much work to be done if the world is to be a better place for all Commonwealth citizens.
“The commitment of member states to promote peace, prosperity, and sustainability, especially through climate action, ensures a brighter future for young people and is improving the lives of Commonwealth citizens,” said Malith.
“Commonwealth Day was a unique occasion to celebrate the Commonwealth’s past, present, and future. It served as a reminder of the strength and resilience of this voluntary association of countries and its commitment to promoting democracy, human rights, and equality for all,” he added.
Commonwealth Day Service of Celebrations and the Commonwealth Youth Leaders’ Summit
Held at Westminster Abbey, the Commonwealth Day Service of Celebrations provided an opportunity to reflect on the Commonwealth’s past, present, and future.
The occasion was graced with the presence of His Majesty the King Charles III, who has long been a champion for the youth of the Commonwealth. The support for young people from The King and The Queen Consort was reflected in the programme, which began with performances from New Zealand, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean and the Americas. These performances highlighted The King’s commitment to connecting communities and promoting the values of peace, connection, and cooperation for the greater good.
The celebrations were further enlightened by the two-week-long Commonwealth Youth Leaders’ Summit held from 6 to 17 of March 2023, organised by the Commonwealth Youth Council.
The leadership summit is one of the landmark activities to mark the Year of the Youth and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Commonwealth Charter and the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
The summit was attended by the Commonwealth Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General, the Prince’s Foundation, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth youth leaders, foreign ministers, high commissioners, and Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth divisions and stakeholders.
In addition to conducting research for the GDRC and CORE project, Malith is a member of the Steering Committee for the Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation (CYSU), a member of the Steering Committee/Co-Chair Research of Commonwealth Association of Planners/Young Planners Network, and a corporate member of the Institute of Town Planners, Sri Lanka.
“Malith’s attendance at these Commonwealth Day celebrations is testament to the University of Huddersfield’s commitment to fostering global professionals and promoting the values of the Commonwealth,” said GDRC’s co-Director Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga.