The Parliamentarian 2022: Issue One: Reflecting on two years of the COVID-19

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REFLECTING ON TWO YEARS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT ACROSS COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTS The Acting CPA Chairperson reflects on the theme for this issue of The Parliamentarian. Acting Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee, Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

As we enter the first half of 2022 and reflect on another year of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected every part of the Commonwealth, I must first and foremost say that my thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their lives, lost their loved ones, and are still enduring the ongoing effects of the pandemic. While we could not have predicted the unprecedented scale of the virus, I am most comforted by the resilience of communities and the solidarity demonstrated across the Commonwealth. A core element of the CPA’s mandate in promoting and strengthening parliamentary democracy and good governance is mutual learning and the sharing of best practices. At the start of the pandemic, the CPA Headquarters Secretariat were very proactive in developing the CPA Toolkit for Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic and Delivering Parliamentary Democracy. This timely toolkit brought together a wealth of experiences and recommendations from a variety of national and subnational Parliaments across the globe, synthesising measures to ensure the continuation of parliamentary operations. This form of learning and development proved immensely beneficial in jurisdictions adopting new initiatives with the information and resources gained from these toolkits invaluable. Past issues of The Parliamentarian are also an excellent source of information in reflecting how Commonwealth Parliaments have been learning and developing over the two years. In 2020, the CPA dedicated an issue to sharing best practices of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic across the Commonwealth. Subsequent issues have also focussed on the ability of Parliamentarians and Parliaments to adapt to changing circumstances, adopting novel methods to conduct parliamentary business. The continuation of the parliamentary process during the pandemic has been vital to

“The continuation of the parliamentary process during the pandemic has been vital to ensuring that democracy continues, effective responses can be made, and that scrutiny of the Executive endures.” 6 | The Parliamentarian | 2022: Issue One | 100 years of publishing

ensuring that democracy continues, effective responses can be made, and that scrutiny of the Executive endures. The CPA has, throughout this time of crisis, maintained a constant focus on innovation and transformation when looking at what we offer to our membership, and we have been part of this incredible surge in the digitalisation and virtual nature of processes taking place across the Commonwealth. A further medium in which Members have contributed to shared learning of best practices, are via the CPA Regional Conferences. We have learnt from one another on the very positive use of technology and our programmes and governance have mirrored this development. I have been able to participate in CPA Regional Conferences in Nigeria, Northern Ireland and Western Australia with virtual, in-person and hybrid participation. These CPA Regional Conferences are another forum to promote shared learning and best practices among Members and I very much hope that those Regions who were forced to postpone in 2020/2021 and have not yet held one, will look to holding these soon. The CPA has now also held three International CPA Executive Committee meetings entirely virtually and has also enabled the Coordinating Committee to regularly convene its meetings. Nevertheless, despite these emerging modalities, the face-to-face element and physical interaction cannot be replaced. As such it is very exciting that two years later, we are planning to hold the upcoming CPA International Executive Committee meeting in the CPA India Region, hosted by the CPA Assam Branch, taking place from 9 to 10 April 2022 and I look forward to meeting parliamentary colleagues in Guwahati. Furthermore, it is extremely promising to see that new dates for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) have been scheduled for the week of 20 June 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. The message of the CHOGM theme, ‘Delivering a Common Future’ is clear in expressing that it is our commonalities and successful ability to assemble in times of need that prove together we are stronger, and collectively we have been and are continuing to overcome the challenges presented by the COVID19 pandemic. Learning and development through international dialogue is crucial in discussing our priorities as a global family and how we can build a better future for all; I hope that this spirit of collaboration extends far past the lifetime of COVID-19 and