BEI Weekly Update
Mar 22, 2024

BEI Weekly Update - 22nd March 2024

Dear Members and Friends,

Over the last few days, I’ve caught up with a number of BEI members with interests ranging from building bridges (literally) to the kind of bridge-building that characterises much international development. I was also struck by an article by a couple of Ministers arguing for more defence spending (I’ll leave that subject to our sister organisation, the D Group), which they said was necessary if Britain is to be a “leader” in that space. This prompted me to think about what leadership in international action means. Is it about inputs, outputs or longer-term outcomes? Is it measured quantitatively or qualitatively? Common sense suggests that the numbers must add up – you can’t always be doing more with less – but most important is doing something that matters and doing it well.   We may not always want to go around the world shouting that we’re “leaders”, but it’s certainly about letting British expertise shine through, to good effect. 

It’s always important to remember that all the great things that are achieved are done by people and we need to think about them too. On Tuesday we held an event on the arresting topic of 'Flourishing as Female Leaders in International Development'. Women from across our membership base joined us for a workshop with Annika Burke, who is an executive coach (with a particular focus on the international development sector) as well as a Senior Manager at ASI, with 15 years' experience in the ID sector. The event looked at the theme of how to flourish as a leader in international development. The discussion acknowledged that it’s a sector where those involved can create a huge impact and find real meaning in their work. At the same time, given the pressures, the risk of burn-out is high. Annika discussed the importance of having a career vision; how to create a personal brand that plays to your natural strengths; and how creating space for creativity can increase both your energy and your impact. From the feedback I’ve had, this was an exceptionally well received event which I’m sure we’ll want to repeat in some form.

On Wednesday, led by Luisa, we participated in a virtual DBT Briefing on the recent Southeast Asia Trade Mission, discussing the practical takeaways and opportunities from the mission. We are fortunate in having an excellent working relationship with UK Government Departments and are particularly grateful to DBT colleagues for their consistent support as we explore market opportunities around the world. So I’m glad that Jonathan Ledger, DBT’s Global Skills and Professional Bodies Specialist has agreed to join the Skills and Training Working Group as an expert adviser, working closely with Luisa to help develop new partnerships and to ensure alignment of our trade promotion efforts with the broader government educational and skills agenda, also strengthen synergies between skills providers, Governments and industry. I’m glad to welcome Jonathan to our “team”.

Last night, the building was full for this month’s Climate Networking event, with a keynote by Charles Reeve, Principal, Economic Growth and Infrastructure, Tetra Tech International Development. On the eve of World Water Day, Charles explored the importance of people in climate change adaptation, emphasising locally-led strategies for regional projects. He used examples of projects in Bangladesh and Southern Africa, two regions surrounded by water and cascaded with rivers. Charles explained that in order effectively to create infrastructure projects for climate change adaptation, we must listen to those who live in regions most deeply impacted by climate change. Charles highlighted the interdependencies between climate and water: they are central to one another, and our approach to one ought to take seriously the other. Look out for more on this important discussion in Katie’s upcoming blog.

On the UK domestic front, you may have seen the important speech by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves earlier this week setting out Labour’s approach to the economic challenges the country faces, which of course have a crucial impact on our capacity for action internationally. You can read the text here. With a General Election very much in prospect, we will be launching a new series of virtual briefings led by our Senior Adviser Nick Forbes on how a possible Labour Government might handle key issues of interest to our members and members of our sister organisation D Group.   There will be a good mix of international and domestic topics, so something for everyone. More detail to follow soon.

A brief addition also on the Future Leaders Group which I mentioned in last week’s newsletter. This week, participants and sponsors were at Sandhurst to celebrate the success of the 2023-24 cohort and share their insights on leadership. Strategy International CEO Robin MacKenzie was delighted to catch up with several BEI members for whom FLG plays an effective part in succession planning. If you’re interested in learning more, please get in touch with me or with Programme Director Olivier Beroud here.

Next week, our newsletter – and our events – will be taking a break for Easter, with one important exception. There are still a few places for our Strategy Group International Women’s Day event on “Women Shaping Global Politics” on Tuesday 26 March. If you would like to attend, please register here.

If you’re able to have one, I wish you a happy and peaceful Easter break,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 26th March 2024 17:30 - 19:30 GMT: Women Shaping Global Politics This event will bring together a panel of leading female foreign policy voices from across Westminster to discuss their expectations for the future of global politics, and draw on their experiences to explore how we can meet some of the challenges that this changing global environment will create.
  • 9th April 2024 09:00 - 11:00 GMT: Developing Education & Social Infrastructure - Join us for a panel discussion on the role of Education in the context of Social Infrastructure. This event will offer an overview of the development of Education Infrastructure across sectors with speakers from Arup and Gleeds.
  • 24th April 2024 16:00 p.m. - 17:30 p.m. BST: ICAI Review: International Climate Finance - A new review from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) assesses whether the UK is on track to meet its international climate finance commitments. Join Chief Commissioner Tamsyn Barton and other stakeholders to discuss the findings of the report and how UK aid can be used most effectively to meet this monumental global challenge.
  • 25th April 2024 08:45 - 11:15 BST: Maximising the UK’s skillset in achieving SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure - As part of the Lord Mayor’s Coffee Colloquies series, British Expertise International and The D Group are pleased to present a special session exploring the UK’s role in achieving SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Our panel will discuss how the UK, by working in partnership, is contributing to SDG 9’s goals in the UK and globally.
  • 1st May 2024 16:00 - 19:00 BST: Climate Change Networking Evening - Join us for an evening of thought-provoking conversation. Our keynote speaker this time is Dr Steven Wade, Technical Director at AtkinsRéalis. Steven will discuss several “wicked” climate change problems with rapid increases in risk affecting large numbers of people in the UK and internationally, and reflect how our approaches to risk assessment and adaptation planning have changed since the 1990s.

Register for an upcoming event →

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