Dear Members and Friends,
It’s worrying to see how 2024 has started no less turbulently - and unpredictably- than 2023 ended. After a few days in which the country’s attention was absorbed by a distressing domestic story, we have woken up to the announcement that the UK and US have launched military strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, with the Prime Minister saying that the UK will “always stand up for freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade”. Whatever our own views of the wider conflict, this is clearly a key responsibility of any British Government.
This disturbing news is that even in an election year when it can often seem “all politics is local”, today the impact of geopolitics on our own security and prosperity is now never far away. While we must hope that the situation calms quickly, we need also to keep focused on the many other ways in which UK influence, expertise and action can help bring positive results around the world.
One example this week of where we can focus attention on the UK’s impact internationally was on Tuesday morning, when we facilitated a workshop as part of ICAI’s rapid review of UK assistance in Ukraine. In its role as the national independent aid watchdog, ICAI conducts reviews of the effectiveness of UK aid, reporting to the House of Commons International Development Select Committee. This was an excellent opportunity for our members to input direct to ICAI as it forms its view of how UK aid in Ukraine is being deployed and what could be done to improve effectiveness in the future. In a very engaging conversation, members were able to share experiences on a range of issues including G2G collaboration, private sector investment and the scope for the UK to help strengthen governance and procurement processes for the reconstruction effort to come. One of the challenges is a multiplicity of digital platforms; you may be interested to read our member MetricsLed’s recent article on the digitisation of reconstruction projects in Ukraine. I’m glad that we’ve developed a strong link with ICAI and hope that we will be able to host similar discussions in future.
Amid the geopolitics, we mustn’t lose sight of the human dimension. On Wednesday, we hosted our Safeguarding Panel, with an impressive list of panellists: Peter Taylor, Head of Safeguarding Unit, FCDO; Sarah Maguire, Global Director of Safeguarding, DAI Global UK and a member of the Safeguarding Leads Network Coordination Group; Danielle Cornish-Spencer, Principal Consultant & Head of Equal Education Portfolio, Social Development Direct. We welcomed over 70 participants to this virtual event which covered the CAPSEAH best practises for implementing safeguarding through every aspect of operations and programming.
This week also marks the re-launch of our very well supported Education Working Group. Over the next four months, our education members will be collaborating on a new report, focusing on systems strengthening and the development of a framework for tackling the most important global challenges for the education sector. If you represent a BEI member and wish to join the Working Group and contribute to the report, please contact Amalie.
On to next week, when on Tuesday 16 January we will be discussing COP28 outcomes with a very impressive lineup of speakers discussing their impressions of the conference, the key takeaways and prospects for follow up. I hope you will join us to hear from: James Cameron, Chair of the Board, Crown Agents, Rabih El Fadel, Co-Founder & CEO, Phyla Earth, Eric J. Reading Chief Climate Officer, Abt Associates & Amir Sokolowski, Global Director of Climate, CDP.
There’s no doubt that the localisation agenda has received a boost from the recent International Development White Paper, though it is of course by no means exclusively a preoccupation of the UK. We are therefore looking forward next Wednesday 17 January to welcoming member Seamless (SANNAM S4), who will be leading a Clinic on Localisation joined by fellow member FHI360 and also the Clean Air Fund. This is an in-person event with the aim of moving from theory to practice and exploring the operational realities of delivering effective and sustainable localisation.
I started with a mention of the sheer range of foreign policy challenges and opportunities we need to keep in mind. If you’d like an accessible guide to this year’s international agenda, please take a look at the excellent Foreign Policy Calendar produced by our colleagues in BFPG.
Finally, as members will know, the UK signed an agreement to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) last July. The Government is now working through the ratification process and expects – subject to Parliament - that the UK’s membership will come into force in the second half of 2024. Even though the UK has not yet become a full member, DBT is already working on its approach to the planned review of the Treaty, which will begin this year. The terms of reference for the review are here. DBT is keen to hear from business and other stakeholders to help inform its position on the review and has asked us to encourage members with an interest to participate. The main questions are:
- Which areas of the current CPTPP agreement should the UK government seek to keep the same through the CPTPP general review?
- Which areas of the CPTPP agreement should the UK government seek to change or improve through the general review in line with the highest standard international trading practices?
With best wishes for the weekend,
British Expertise International
Recordings of recent past events:
- 10th January: Safeguarding Panel
Key events coming up include the following:
- 16th January 2024 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. GMT: COP28 Outcomes - In the wake of COP28, a panel of BEI members will join us to discuss their experiences at COP, their main takeaways, and their hopes for the future.
- 17th January 2024 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. GMT: Clinic on Localisation in partnership with Seamless - Join us for a Clinic on Localisation, at which Seamless Global (Part of Sannam S4 Group) joined by colleagues from FHI360 and Clean Air Fund will explore the operational realities of localisation.If you are not a BEI member, please rsvp directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 18th January 2024 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. GMT: Water Resilience Working Group - The UK has a distinctive offer and world-leading expertise in sustainable and climate-resilient water services. This group, in partnership with the UK government, IFIs and other key stakeholders, aims to define that offer and leverage it to increase exports.
- 24th January 2024 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. GMT: Working with the Caribbean Development Bank: Climate and Infrastructure - The Caribbean Development Bank’s Environmental Sustainability unit will provide an update on their regional leadership of climate initiatives, and an overview of procurement guidelines with the CDB.
- 30th January 2024 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.GMT: FCDO Ethiopia Climate Finance - Ethiopia is one of the UK’s most important development partnerships. We are delighted to provide an opportunity for a detailed discussion on Climate Finance with FCDO colleagues leading on climate change at the British Embassy.
- 31st January 2024 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. GMT: Climate Change Networking Evening - An evening of thought-provoking conversation, potential new partnerships and the opportunity to meet with members of our Climate Change Working Group. This quarterly event brings together members and stakeholders to engage on the pre-COP29 agenda and the broader climate efforts being undertaken by UK organisations across the globe. We are delighted to welcome Kate Lonsdale as our keynote speaker.
- 1st February 2024 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. GMT: Skills and Training WG: Standards - Join us for our quarterly in-person Skills & Training Working Group with a presentation from the British Standards Institution (BSI) and Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) on the topic of Standards. The discussion will provide an overview of standards and the importance of standards education, followed by insights into the importance of accepted standards in the education sector, and the challenges and steps involved in developing them.
- 8th February 2024 09:00 a.m. -10:15 a.m. GMT: FCDO Development Director: Sudan - Join us as we host Ruth Lawson, the Development Director in Sudan for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and Kevin McGrath, Commercial Lead for the FCDO, who will present FCDO’s development strategy, programming and pipeline of opportunities in Sudan.
- 6th February 2024 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. GMT: Intersection of Climate Change, Gender-Based Violence and other Harmful Practices - Women and girls can be disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis as it serves to intensify pre-existing inequalities. Our panel will showcase how they are adapting their approach in the nexus of climate change, gender-based violence and other harmful practices.
- 13th February 2024 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. GMT: Intersection of Climate Change and Food Security - Join us for the next event in our “Intersections with Climate Change” series, this time focusing on the key intersection of Climate Change and Food Security. Our panel will discuss how their organisations are adapting their approach in response to climate change across their programmes and interventions to support and improve food security in a changing climate.
- 15th February 2024 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. GMT: Water Resilience Working Group - The UK has a distinctive offer and world-leading expertise in sustainable and climate-resilient water services. This group, in partnership with the UK government, IFIs and other key stakeholders, aims to define that offer and leverage it to increase exports.
- 15th February 2024 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. GMT: Working with the Caribbean Development Bank: Education & Social Inclusion - For the second in our series of events engaging with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) we will be joined by experts on Education and Social Development to share an overview of and insights into doing business with the CDB, navigating the procurement processes and exploring opportunities in the education and social development sector.
- 22nd February 2024 09:00 a.m. -10:30 a.m. GMT: Skills and Training WG: SEAMEO VOCTECH - Join us for our monthly online Skills & Training Working Group with guest speaker, Dr. Paryono Paryono, Deputy Director of SEAMEO VOCTECH. Dr Paryono’s presentation will offer an overview of the current TVET context in the ASEAN region, an overview of SEAMEO VOCTECH’s work, and ways of partnering up with VOCTECH.
- 18th January 2024 - Launch: Unleashing the UK’s Innovation Capability to Support Our National Interests - This project aims to support the strategic alignment of the traditional (Military, Government and Industry) and non-traditional defence stakeholders (Venture Capital, Entrepreneurs and Academia). International competitors can develop and adopt innovation faster than the UK given their faster moving, more responsive innovation ecosystems.
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