2015 Highlights

Videos and Information from CSCLeaders 2015

What Happened

Part One

In March 2015, diverse leaders from Commonwealth countries around the world assembled to address a shared challenge.

Over eight days, they started with high level briefings in Oxford, explored London in small study tour groups to see the issues in reality and finally came back together in Surrey to work together on their solutions.

Part Two

In July, August and September, participants reconnected in three cities - Ahmedabad, Nairobi and Singapore - to address the challenge from the context of a different city, build on their leadership learning and expand the global network they had developed in Part One. 


The Challenge

Each year, a Challenge is set which is common to all.

The Challenge for 2015: 

What makes a city smart?


As a result of their experience:

84% developed their Cultural Intelligence

  • 94% spotted new opportunities for their organisation or city/country
  • 88% are more prepared to lead a project which takes them beyond the world they know and operate within
  • 87% are now better equipped to work with people who are different to them
  • 94% met people with whom they will stay in regular contact
  • 94% would recommend the programme to a friend or colleague

To view the 2015 CSCLeaders report click  here  

In 2015, CSCLeaders set a difficult and relevant Challenge: "What makes a city smart" Here are some of the innovative ideas which emerged in response to the Challenge.

Green Bench

The green bench is a symbol of democracy across the Commonwealth (the colour of the benches in the House of Commons and in many other Commonwealth parliaments).

Our belief is that smart cities and nations are those that engage their young people in the democratic parliamentary process so that the young who are our future are actively engaged in shaping it through the democratic parliamentary process.

Our long term goal is to see an elected youth parliament in every commonwealth country.

To facilitate this vision the Green Bench will be an umbrella organisation, an online community and resource centre that will do two things: Firstly, provide supporting materials (best practice guidelines, contacts, toolkits etc) to help governments and cities wanting to establish youth parliaments or forums to do so; Secondly to act as an online community for young people across the Commonwealth, whether or not their country has a youth parliament, to engage in discussion, debate and the sharing of ideas about the things that matter to them and about the future.

Innovating sustainability: A Mayor's Manual

Producing SMART Mayor's Manual raising the global standards for future cities across the Commonwealth.

This idea came about as there are lots of smart initiatives at the macro and micro level going on in cities around the globe, but they are not shared. The Mayor's Manual or a ToolBook would bring these ideas together and could be tailor made to the needs of a particular Commonwealth  city or a particular suburb in a Commonwealth city or even a community - in effect a loose leaf online reference tool to kick start and implement smart city ideas. Initially the manual will serve Commonwealth cities and establish guidelines and best practice standards for these cities. 

The manual could cover a wide range of topics from sustainability eg using 'grey water' to flush toilets; creating a waste 'stock exchange' where waste becomes a saleable commodity. There could be pages on urban gardening, how to create a new urban 'forest; pages on more technology based aspects of making a city smart eg parking sensors to regulate parking. Importantly the manual does not need to be high end - it could cover basic smart solutions in developing countries eg tips on getting basic sanitation right. 

City Smart.i.e.s

Giving Individuals and Communities access to the information which will allow them to find their voice and influence their futures

City Smart Information Exchange (City Smarties) - is based on three simple principles - an informed citizen is an empowered citizen, collective leadership is more powerful than individual leadership, and by sharing information about examples where Communities are making and have made a significant change, this will help and motivate others  to prove that it is possible to make a difference in small or large ways.

City Smarties is about facilitating people coming together to identify and solve common challenges.  This goes beyond a election cycles - it is about giving individuals and Communities a voice and a real choice  so that they are informed to influence, together with the tools for elected officials and businesses to engage in real time with Communities, through a combination of web based app tools and Community Champions.

Community champions - who could act as the voice and the point of contact. There are already many great examples of Community Initiatives but they are, inevitably, local and small in number.  The Smarties network and App will help provide them with a bigger and more influential voice. Technology tools now provides the ability to link individuals and communities quickly, on matters that Communities care about giving people a direct say in things that matter to them.

Common Wealth Social Capital

People who truly believe that it is better to give than it is to receive. Common Wealth Social Capital is a new currency that can be earned through positive social behaviours.

Imagine a world where we are judged not by the job we're in, the car we drive, the house we live in or our formal qualifications - but by our social impact on our community.

We believe that at the heart of the Commonwealth, the true 'common-wealth' we all share is the ability to make a positive contribution to our family, our neighbourhood, our community, our city. The Common-wealth Social Capital is a concept that stimulates socially positive behaviour - a system that rewards what you put into society, not what you take out.

The Common-wealth Social Capital (CSC) concept enables an individual, community organisation or business enterprise to earn CSC 'Kudos' by actively participating in society. It's a new social economy that addresses the pyramid of needs (physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualisation) to drive local action in response to local issues. The Kudos earned could be translated into real value by reducing tax liability, or reflected on a 'Social CV' that would make a student or low-income earner attractive for future employment or higher education.

The system seeks to break-down socio-economic divides and enable everyone, regardless of their financial wealth, to benefit from measuring and rewarding social value.


A product valuing and labelling technology that enables citizens of future smart cities to make responsible choices.

The key idea here is to bring together a confusing set of consumer information about sustainable products (Fairtrade, organic, low fat, low sugar, non-sweatshop produced, living wage, non-polluting) into a single, simple consumer "badge" which the world can understand.

Initial data for the products would be provided by the companies themselves and assessed by consumer panels who would research the data and produce both a "Red Amber or Green" badge - but also offer additional product information about how it was produced and how ethical, sustainable etc is the company that produced it. This detail would feature in the App.

By capitalising on consumer demand for sustainability, consumer behaviour begins to shape how industry produces its goods: those who produce "Red" (negative impact) products would begin to experience lower demand; those who switch to "Green" products experience higher demand, enabling lower pricing for sustainable solutions and driving an more ethical form of consumerism.

The data system required to run this appears to be currently available: chains of stores would be encouraged to provide customer purchasing information into a "Big Data" set - but consumers themselves could also use smartphone technology to scan and upload their purchasing decisions.

If I Vote Change Happens

"If I vote, then change happens" is about engaging the silent majority who do not vote and do not engage on smart cities. If the definition of smart cities is those which makes the lives of its inhabitants better, then it is hard to know what residents want if only 35 per cent vote as in the last UK local government elections. And that is a trend right across the Commonwealth.

Who are the silent majority who don't vote?  The young, migrants, poor, unemployed, solo mums, less educated, and those with lower incomes. These groups are also under represented in local governments. They don't stand for office.

So how do we make a connection that smart city issues are about their jobs, their homes, their schools, health and the safety of their communities?  That smart cities are about "us"? How do we create a culture of voting and engagement for people who have never voted?

It's not true that these people never engage. We need to start trying to engage them on smart cities where they currently are. "X-factor" is an example. People pay 95p to vote. It's about gamification instant gratification, and the fact that their vote determines who wins. The problem is that "X-factor" contributes nothing to the quality of lives and cities. So the question is how do we get the same engagement with smart city issues as for "X-factor"? We need to engage the silent majority in small, ever more important binary (yes/no) questions on smart cities.

Everyone has a smartphone or can be provided with access to the internet.  So our solution, which can be rolled out across the Commonwealth, is free Democracy Dollars (Dem Dollars), free phones/wifi credit. The precondition for free credit is that you vote and give feedback on smart city issues and receive civic information, including how the local authority is or is not performing. We will give generous amounts of credit, but the credit will be time limited.

In summary, Dem Dollars can be used to create a culture of voting, a culture of engagement.

My Phone My Home

Smart cities need digital equality, because digital equality ensures everyone stays connected and has access to critical information that will improve lives.

Advances in technology has made this possible and within reach of multitudes. Phones are no longer just devices to place a call. They are increasingly an important gateway to jobs, banking, healthcare and social services, and more. They are a conduit to opportunities, a channel for life-saving information, and at the most basic of needs, a means to stay connected with loved ones. 100% of mothers would want to know where their children are. In fact, so pervasive is this trend that 8 out of 10 homeless persons have mobile phones in the United Kingdom. 74% of Kenyans have mobile phones.

Yet, the sobering fact is that a critical missing enabler has meant that digital equality is frustratingly just outside our grasp. The International Energy Agency reported that in 2009, 1.3 billion people (or about 20% of the global population) still do not have access to electricity. In some parts of the world, close to 76% of the population have no access to electricity.

Imagine a world where your phone is always dead.

Our idea is to set up publicly-accessible Charging Stations. As a public facility, conveniently located in well-lit, high foot traffic areas, people with no access to electricity can once again get connected through their mobile devices. Open for charging anytime you like, the facility can become the new foci for community gatherings, like the watering hole or public stand-pipe. As you wait for your devices to charge, we can configure the facility, depending on funding availability, to use as an educational resource to support civic education, financial literacy or to engage you with important information about your community - through basic bulletin boards to Wi-Fi connections. 

The E3 Score Card

Engage, Enable, Energize - the E3 approach aims to 'measure' a community's socio-economic progress by sourcing 'data' directly from people in their everyday lives.

Traditional economic indicators (e.g. GDP) are based on top down aggregation of statistical information based on quantitative data that is quite far removed from peoples lived perceptions of progress. The E3 approach will take advantage of the connectivity of the Information Age to directly engage people in their communities in order to provide bottom up information on tracking social, political, economic and environmental issues as experienced by real people. This direct engagement will help further provide a deeper understanding of people's needs, desires and perceptions, enabling the groundwork for change. Decision makers in government, the private sector and civil society, working closely with communities and households, will then be able to create positive, focused change that begins and ends with people.


To find out more about any of these projects, please email Tina at info@cscleaders.org





CSCLeaders 2015: Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

Unilever CEO, Paul Polman delivered an exceptional key note speech to this year’s CSCLeaders participants.

CSCLeaders 2015: Tony Farley, Executive Director, Catholic Commission for Employment Relations

Participant Tony Farley shares his thoughts on the programme at the end of CSCLeaders 2015 Part Two in Nairobi.

CSCLeaders 2015: Sandamali Perera, Global Talent Director, Unilever

Participant Sandamali Perera talks about how CSCLeaders has helped develop her Cultural Intelligence and given her a network of thought leaders globally.

CSCLeaders 2015: David McCredie, Chief Executive, Australian British Chamber of Commerce

Participant David McCredie talks about his experience of CSCLeaders 2015 Part Two in Ahmedabad.

CSCLeaders 2015: Ilka Dunne, Head of Learning Architecture and Young Talent Development, Rand Merchant Bank

Participant Ilka Dunne gives her personal reflections from CSCLeaders Part One.

CSCLeaders 2015: Vimlendu Jha, Founder and Executive Director, Swechha

Participant Vimlendu Jha shares how the insight into Cultural Intelligence on CSCLeaders Part One has inspired him, both personally and professionally.

CSCLeaders 2015: Traci Houpapa, Chairman, Federation of Maori Authorities Inc

Participant Traci Houpapa describes her greatest highlights from CSCLeaders Part One in the UK.

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About CSCLeaders

CSCLeaders is the renewal of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences - first run in 1956 – for the 21st Century, a partnership between international leadership development organisation Common Purpose and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences (UK Fund).

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