Between 13-17 February 2023, the British Council, on behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC), hosted the third annual global conference for Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni, Interchange23.

The five-day programme featured a mix of roundtable discussions, skills workshops, and networking sessions. The overarching theme of the conference was Clean Energy, Air and Oceans.

Interchange23 provided an opportunity for Commonwealth Scholars, Alumni, and other stakeholders to come together in a virtual space to share knowledge and research related to preserving marine resources, increasing the use of renewable energies, and reducing air pollution. Almost 400 participants representing 32 countries joined the event.

Collective action to combat climate change 

The conference officially opened on Tuesday 14 February with a welcome message from Maddalaine Ansell, Director of Education, British Council, and Professor Robin Mason, Chair of the CSC. Professor Mason shared reflections on his first 12 months as Chair and talked passionately about the importance of scholarships, higher education, and his hopes for the next three years of his time in post.

The opening plenary included a recorded message from the Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment, FCDO. In his address, Lord Goldsmith emphasised the importance of international collaboration to help combat climate change.

“Tackling the interlinked crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is rightly a top priority for the UK government and for the Commonwealth.”

Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment, FCDO

Sharing research and knowledge

On Monday 13 February, participants were invited to a pre-conference Networking Day, designed to enable Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni to connect across a range of thematic areas. These included: Building networks: Gaps and opportunities; Women and the Promotion of Climate Actions; Youth and Green enterprises. Sessions were led by Commonwealth Alumni. The day ended with sessions on stress management and mindfulness.

Over the remaining four days, Commonwealth Alumni led roundtable discussions on the core topics of the conference theme. As leading experts and practitioners in their fields, panel members provided insightful information and perspectives on developments and challenges in implementing clean and renewable energy solutions in their countries and regions, tackling air pollution and its devastating impact on human health and the environment, and protecting our oceans and the blue economy. The roundtables featured dynamic and spirited discussions between panellists and participants.

During the conference, participants had the opportunity to join interactive skills workshops to develop their personal and professional skills. These included career skills and presentation skills.

The British Council and CSC would like to thank everyone who gave their time and energy to make Interchange23 a success.

You can watch recordings of the roundtable discussions on the CSC’s YouTube channel, where you can also watch recordings from previous conferences.