BEI Weekly Update
May 17, 2024

BEI Weekly Update - 17th May 2024

Dear Members and Friends,

To begin with a crucial topic, we were pleased last week to be able to host a great online session with the SLN Heads of Businesses, opened by Peter Taylor, Head of the FCDO Safeguarding Unit, who shared his thoughts on the future of safeguarding including CAPSEAH and other FCDO initiatives. Four senior leaders from Crown Agents, DAI, EDT and NIRAS provided insights from their experience on safeguarding and the importance of continuing the commitment to safeguarding capacity and resourcing so that the sector can build on progress made to date. From our perspective, it’s clear that a sector with a primary purpose of helping those most in need must work towards the highest standards for protecting the vulnerable. Not only is this self-evidently the right thing to do, it’s also vital for the sector’s licence to operate in a contested space.

This week started with Indonesia on Tuesday. FCDO Development Director Amanda McLoughlin was our guest speaker. Amanda is also Minister-Counsellor Development at the UK Mission to ASEAN. She first described FCDO priorities in Indonesia along with the project pipeline before moving on to the UK’s wider ASEAN development agenda. This is focused on the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-UK Dialogue Partnership (2022-2026), which will be a significant contribution towards the UK’s priority of deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. The high participation and number of engaged questions would appear to confirm that ASEAN remains a high priority for many BEI members and one we will continue to focus on.

Also on Tuesday, this time in Grafton Street, we welcomed Nick O’Donohoe, CEO at British International Investment to the latest in our International Development Heads of Business series. Nick described BII’s unusual role among bilateral development finance organisations and touched on its investment criteria, priority geographies and sectors. In a lively discussion, participants touched on everything from agriculture to BII’s first foray into Ukraine to what might (or might not) change in the event of a change of UK Government later this year. I’m most grateful to Nick for taking the time. 

On Thursday, together with the (UK-focused) D Group, we hosted a round table led by our member Pearson on “Addressing the Skills Gap”. Speakers included Christopher Cuddihy, Director, UK and International Government Relations at Pearson and Kimberley Fletcher, Enterprise Account Executive at Faethm by Pearson. Faethm is an excellent example of how the latest technology is informing employers’ skills and training planning. Faethm uses occupational data and predictive analytics to anticipate future skills trends from a wide range of complex data. The session considered the skills gap both in the UK and globally and explored solutions for employers which contribute to a sustainable approach to developing skills that is capable of responding to future economic and wider change, especially in the infrastructure and climate sectors. We’re very grateful to Pearson and Faethm for sharing their insights with our members.

Next week is a big one for us. On Wednesday 22 May we will be launching our latest Education Report at a reception co-hosted by Lord Offord of Garvel, Minister for Exports at DBT in the margins of World Education Forum. Luisa looks forward to seeing many of our members at EWF, which is a magnificent opportunity to meet the decision makers for education around the world. In the meantime, look out for plenty of coverage of the report on our social media next week; the report itself will of course be online as soon as it is published.

Next Thursday you can join the latest Strategy International Senior Adviser Nick Forbes’ “Election Watch” series: “Britain’s Place in the World: Linking Foreign and Defence Policy with Trade”. At a macro level, Labour has spelled out some of its key focus areas, which are rooted in what Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has described as a ‘progressive realism’ that sees the UK becoming more active in promoting a values-based global order while being hard-headed about geopolitical realities. In addition, Labour’s industrial strategy is clear on the need to identify, nurture and support ‘Global Champions’ from a range of industries and sectors with the potential to increase productivity and create jobs. In this session, Nick will explore Labour thinking on how the UK’s international positioning and economic priorities are coordinated.

Finally, an opportunity to be involved in an interesting innovation for the development and humanitarian sector. Our member Spearfish is about to launch a new project to develop a next-generation security advisory platform, the Duty of Care Centre (DOCC) 2.0. This six-month exercise is a collaborative partnership between Spearfish, the University of Southampton, and a talented team of Ukrainian developers based in Dnipro. The project will have a geographical focus on Ukraine, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. As the aim of the platform is to enable teams to travel and work safely in fragile environments through human-centred technology, Spearfish are offering BEI members the opportunity to help shape the platform as it’s developed. This would involve contributing industry insights, providing feedback on the prototypes through hands-on testing. There will be a number of one-hour sessions, no more than once every four weeks. If you or your teams are interested in joining the focus group, you can register here or reply to The first meeting is pencilled in for early June, and the last will finish in December.

I’m off to the Western Balkans on Sunday. My best wishes for your weekend, however (and wherever) you plan to spend it,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 23rd May 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in the World: Linking Foreign and Defense Policy with Trade - Labour has spelled out its view of ‘progressive realism’, which sees the UK becoming more active in promoting a values-based global order. In addition, Labour’s industrial strategy is clear on the need to identify ‘global champions’. From a range of sectors, these businesses are highly productive and create thousands of well-paid jobs. Labour has made it clear they understand the need to create a stable environment for these global champions.
  • 28th May 2024 10:00 - 11:30 BST: Mauritania - Market Overview and Opportunities - Join us for this session, with speakers including the Mauritanian Ambassador to the UK, as we learn about the opportunities for UK businesses in Mauritania from government officials and the Mauritanian British Business Council.
  • 30th May 2024 15:00 - 16:30 BST: Intersections with Climate Change Series - Climate Change and Migration - We continue the popular ‘Intersections with Climate Change’ series with a session on the intersections of Climate and Migration. We will be joined by a panel of experts who will discuss examples of programmes and approaches in this key nexus, some of the challenges, as well as opportunities to achieve social value through their interventions.
  • 4th June 2024 17:00 - 20:00 BST: Report Launch: Water Resilience – Unlocking Local and Global Benefits Through Collaboration - Join British Expertise International at 23 Grafton Street as we launch our new report: Water Resilience – Unlocking Local and Global Benefits Through Collaboration. Members of the BEI Water Resilience working group will provide an overview of the report and discuss some of its main findings. The panel discussion will be followed by a networking reception.
  • 6th June 2024 15:00 - 16:30 BST: Retrofitting Infrastructure for Net Zero - Our panel will speak from experience in working on large retrofitting programmes in the UK and internationally, and discuss the Net Zero value chain, catalysing clean tech investments, innovations in materials and renewable technologies, and the role of standards and regulation.
  • 12th June 2024 16:00-17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in the World: Does Charity Begin at Home? - The Labour Party clearly recognise the importance of the UK’s investment in development. They have stressed the importance of focus and prioritisation of effort aligned to the UK’s core strengths, while continuing to support the poorest countries and communities globally. As a key pillar of UK foreign policy and tangible evidence of the UK’s soft power, the specific plans and priorities will be important beyond the development community.
  • 13th June 2024 16:00-19:00 BST: Skills & Training WG: Skills - Sectoral Approach - Our June Skills & Training Working Group will look at the importance of taking a sectoral and thematic approach to international skills provision. This session will be led by Jonathan Ledger CMgr FCMI, Skills and Professional Bodies Specialist at the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and new Expert Adviser to BEI’s Working Group; and Jane Rexworthy, FInstLM, Chartered FCIPD, Executive Director at People 1st International and Chair of the UK Skills Partnership (UKSP).
  • 18th June 2024 10:00 - 11:30 BST: Retrofitting Climate Change in Economic Development Programmes - Retrofitting climate change in existing economic development programmes allows a move away from a risk focused approach, by aligning economic development policies with long-term climate goals and leveraging funding to drive innovation and support sustainable projects. To delve into the opportunities, we will be joined by colleagues from the FCDO, alongside Mott MacDonald and Climate Sense.
  • 18th June 2024 14:00 - 15:00 BST: FCDO Development Director: Mozambique - Join us as we host Dominic Ashton, Development Director in Mozambique for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), who will present FCDO’s development strategy, programming and pipeline of opportunities in Mozambique.
  • 26th June 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: What is Infrastructure for Opportunity and Does it Mean Game Over for Levelling Up? - Labour clearly sees the link between infrastructure investment and wider economic growth. They have expressed their intention to drive quicker and cheaper delivery of major projects, unlocking private sector investment. The announcement of the British Infrastructure Council signals Labour’s intention to turn this into reality.
  • 26th June 2024 17:00 - 19:30 BST: UK’s international leadership role in Climate Finance as a vehicle to deliver tangible impact - Join us for the main event in BEI’s Climate Showcase as our panel (DESNZ, FCDO and BII) discuss how the UK government is putting finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation at the heart of interventions and policy decisions. The panel will be followed by a Private View of our special photography Exhibition, showcasing BEI members’ work in climate change mitigation and adaptation in LMICs.
  • 3rd July 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: Britain’s Place in The World: Using UK Soft Power More Effectively - If Labour wins the election, they will be keen to ensure that the UK’s reputation on a global stage becomes part of its toolkit to drive economic and social prosperity. From their commitment to the culture and the arts, to their belief in the strength of the UK’s reputation across sport and education, soft power has a key role to play.

Register for an upcoming event →

External Events

  • May 29th 2024: Pre-Mission Webinar: Ghana/Nigeria UK Mission - WHY VISIT GHANA & NIGERIA? FCDO Event – Registration link to be released soon.
  • June 11th 2024: The Caspian Policy Centre is hosting a Middle Corridor Conference at the IISS from 9:00-13:00 at Arundel House, 6 Temple Place, London WC2R2PG. Regional Ambassadors will provide overviews. Representatives of HMG, international organisations, finance and business will discuss sustainable infrastructure investment, maximising development impact and improving business opportunities. For details contact:
  • June 17th – 27th 2024: Made in the UK Sold to the Indo-Pacific: Meet The Experts - Want to hear from sector specialists, market experts and other companies about opportunities in the Indo-Pacific? This two week series of in-person events is run by the UK Government and their partners.
  • June 19th – 20th 2024: MINEX Central Asia: MINEX Central Asia Mining and Exploration Forum is taking place in Bishkek under the general theme "The Prospects and Scenarios for Sustainable Development of the Mining Industry in Central Asia". MINEX Central Asia Forum provides a cross-regional platform for presenting and discussing investment and technological opportunities for the development of mineral resources, green energy transfer and the modernisation of industrial infrastructure across the Central Asian countries.

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