BEI Weekly Update
May 31, 2024

BEI Weekly Update - 31st May 2024

Dear Members and Friends, 

As we watch the UK election campaign unfold, it’s worth bearing in mind that in 2024, more people than ever will go to the polls around the world, from the US to India and from South Africa to Iran. For those of us with international interests, many of these elections have the potential to matter a great deal. Now is perhaps a good time to catch up with BFPG’s analysis of elections around the world.

At BEI our aim is to be prepared for the next UK Government, of whichever colour, by understanding the parties’ policies and being ready to help our members show where they can be part of the solution for the challenges which become Government priorities. Our series of “election watch” virtual sessions looking at Labour’s policies and approaches will continue with some changes, as election day approaches. The report of the latest session on foreign policy, defence and trade is here

BEI’s purpose is to showcase British expertise on a global stage rather than to lobby (still less to favour any particular party) so we won’t be telling the next Government what it should do. Nor are we a trade body, so I don’t have a mandate to talk about your views.   Instead, the reports we’ve launched this season on Education and Water Resilience are examples of the platform we want to create in order to showcase our members’ capabilities to a wide domestic and international audience.

That said, we do of course listen to your views and will stay alert to any indication of party positions on the issues that matter to our members. As far as international development is concerned, I know that members have a range of interests, from the mix between bilateral and multilateral spending; how the use of grant-funded and commercially contracted programmes best enables the UK to make an effective contribution to priorities from poverty reduction to supporting Ukraine; and how localisation can be made to work in practice. And that’s before we get to the highly political questions on the size of the ODA budget and how responsibilities are allocated across a range of Government Departments. We will be making opportunities to talk to members about all these issues in the coming weeks.

With regard to the work our members do directly for and with foreign governments and other authorities, my sense is that we need to see the next Government energetically “selling” British expertise for projects that enhance the physical and social infrastructure and the climate resilience of our overseas partners. In many countries, there is an inescapable Government-to-Government element in such major projects which some of our competitors seem to find easier to navigate and exploit. When a country presents a clear consistent message across all its interactions, when Ministers are prepared to get on the front foot with their counterparts and, yes, where necessary, roll out the red carpet, it makes a difference. It’s not extravagant or anachronistic, it’s simply the cost of sales, which we as a country have to be prepared to pay.

More broadly, the way we come across as a country really matters. In my experience, there is still largely an expectation that the UK knows what it’s doing, so when things happen on our watch, it’s assumed that it’s because we want them to. Along with defence, diplomacy and development, trade needs to be a genuinely coordinated national effort. That’s what I’ll be looking out for as the parties’ manifestos are published it will doubtless also be an important subject of discussion in our next round of meetings with UK Ambassadors and High Commissioners – on which, more news soon.

Meanwhile, the strategic challenges remain and our regular work continues. This Tuesday, I was glad to chair a well-attended virtual event on opportunities in Mauritania with two excellent and expert speakers. Abdel Aziz Dahi, a former Minister of the Economy, Digital Transformation and Fisheries, and former Central Bank Governor, spoke with deep experience on the recent development of Mauritania and the key opportunity sectors including energy (including renewables), infrastructure, education and technology. Matthew Anderson, Chair of the Mauritanian-British Business Council shared practical insights on doing business in the country as well as on the education sector. As current President of the African Union, Mauritania is growing in regional influence as well as in its own development.  We will continue to work with the Business Council to bring opportunities to our members.

On Thursday, Katie chaired the latest in our “Intersections” series on Climate and Migration. While it’s well understood in principle that climate change is a significant and increasing driver for migration, this session explored the linkages in more detail with a view to identifying concrete strategies for addressing the impact on vulnerable communities and building resilience. We’re grateful to our speakers: Yannick Beaudoin, Director of Climate Change at Alinea; Dr Ilan Kelman, Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London; and Dr Cláudia Santos, an independent researcher and consultant. This was (almost) Katie’s final appearance for BEI: a big thank you from all of us for her passionate contribution to our climate work, and warmest wishes for her new role.

Although we have had only two events this week, BEI has been full steam ahead in preparation for Climate Month and in particular sending to press our latest major report “Water Resilience – Unlocking Local and Global Benefits through Collaboration” which will be published next week.  

The report has been prepared by the BEI Water Resilience Working Group. The report was co-written by members of the Steering Group – Accenture, AtkinsRéalis, Climate Sense, HR Wallingford, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Water Research Centre (WRC) – with inputs from all the BEI member organisations participating in the working group. The report aims to meet the needs of a range of agencies who are seeking rapid insights and technical support relating to water resilience, UK Government Agencies (FCDO, DESNZ, DBT, DEFRA, Environment Agency), Water/Wastewater Companies and Utilities, Governments, Bilateral and Multilateral Development Agencies and other funders.

Join us on Tuesday 4 June for the launch of the report with a stellar panel including: Liz Burlon, Senior Manager, Utilities Strategy and Consulting at Accenture; Charlie Stratford, Head of Research and Business at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; Anne-Louise Vernes, Knowledge, Learning and Impact Manager at Nature For Water Facility, Pegasys; and Jane Wilkinson, Senior Director, Climate and Environment at Abt Global.

On Thursday 6 June we will host a virtual event on ‘Retrofitting Infrastructure for Net Zero’ with speakers including Aneysha Minocha, CEO and Founder at Quantaco; Alison Skillen, Associate Director at Turner and Townsend; and Clare Price, Sector Lead Built Environment at British Standards Institution. The 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.

I hope that you find some – or all! – of these activities and insights of interest and relevance to your work, and look forward to your feedback and insights over the days and weeks to come,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International 

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 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 10:00 - 11:30 BST: Innovative Financial Instruments for Climate Mitigation and Adaptation - The urgency of addressing the climate crisis has spurred the need for innovative financial instruments to facilitate mitigation and adaptation efforts. Our panel will explore how green bonds, climate-focused venture capital funds and carbon pricing mechanisms can help bridge the funding gap by channelling capital towards environmentally sustainable projects and technologies.
  • 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.
  • 21st June 2024 18:00 - 20:00 BST: Exhibition Private View: Equilibrium - Join BEI and D Contemporary at the Private View of Equilibrium, a captivating photography exhibition featuring images by the internationally acclaimed photographer Pierre Rivet alongside photography from around the globe showcasing the collective efforts of British Expertise International members in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The images weave stories of hope in creating balance between people and nature.
  • 25th June 2024 14:00 - 15:30 BST: New Solutions for Closing the Climate Finance Gap - Join MOBILIST and USAID’s Climate Finance for Development Accelerator (CFDA) to discuss public markets, the importance of partnerships, and other innovative solutions to mobilising private investment toward addressing climate change at this in-person roundtable, as part of BEI’s Climate Showcase programme.
  • 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.
  • 17th July 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: Net Zero – the new economy or bad for business? - Net Zero is now part of the mainstream debate in national politics. As a result, it is also becoming a more contested agenda. What does this mean for the changing role of business in helping the UK achieve its Net Zero targets, and what does Labour’s ambition for us to be a ‘Net Zero Superpower’ mean in practice? In this session Nick will explore Labour’s approach to Net Zero, including the interplay between Net Zero and Labour’s fiscal policies.

Register for an upcoming event →

External Events

  • 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.
  • June 24th 2024: UK-SAUDI SUSTAINABLE INFRASTRUCTURE SUMMIT - The City of London Corporation and The Saudi British Joint Business Council UK (SBJBC UK) are delighted to announce the UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, set to take place on 24 June 2024 at Plaisterers’ Hall in London. A full-day, in-person event featuring keynotes, panels, workshops and networking opportunities, focusing on sustainable infrastructure opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the UK, and how firms can play a pivotal role.

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