BEI Weekly Update - 3rd May 2024

Dear Members and Friends,

Headlines only ever tell a partial story. And, as many BEI members will have experienced, a problem that was the centre of international attention often remains a problem long after the headlines have moved on. The urgent and the important aren’t always the same. At BEI we aim to keep our eyes on both.

This week’s events have brought together members from two important communities.

On Tuesday, we were very pleased to be able to host the first in what will become a quarterly series of meetings for SME suppliers to the FCDO. I’m glad that FCDO has agreed that BEI can provide the (on this occasion, virtual) space to enable members of the FCDO SME Advisory Forum to share with the wider SME community, BEI members and non-members alike, insights from the most recent Advisory Forum meeting and to hear at first hand feedback on the issues the community would like to have discussed at their next meeting. The session was chaired jointly by Sue Griffiths, MD of Social Development Direct and Charles Duff, Vice President & MD of Alinea International; Luisa and I are grateful to Sue and Charles for adding this to their already heavy schedules. There was a wide-ranging discussion among a diverse group on how the FCDO can achieve its aim of being more accessible to SMEs. I’m sure that Sue and Charles will be able to make good use of the feedback at their next meeting and look forward to hearing more from them, or other Forum members, in the next quarter. We will try to host an in-person meeting in this new format at some stage over the next year to facilitate networking as well as the formal discussion.

On Wednesday, our monthly Climate Change Networking Evening featured a keynote by Dr Steven Wade, Technical Director of AtkinsRéalis. With over 30 years’ experience in the environmental sector, Steven spoke about the practical challenges of leading climate programmes including poorly defined targets, the need to balance competing demands alongside socio-economic constraints. Steven also spoke about the need to build resilience to address the dangers of overheating in cities, with (for example) the heat index reaching 52 degrees in Manilla this week. He noted that, from 1986 to 2005, heat exposure has doubled, posing huge threats to human wellbeing and development. One takeaway was that success depends on effective collaboration between governments, implementers and finance, based on an understanding of where risk lies in ambitious and ground-breaking programmes and a mechanism to manage risk which is acceptable to all parties. This is a theme which we are keen to explore further, through more engagement with a wider range of sources of finance, building on our now well-established work on climate finance. More on this in the coming weeks and months.

BEI remains active beyond Grafton Street too. On Wednesday, Alexandra chaired a panel at Innovation Zero on the challenges and opportunities of building water resilience in a changing climate. The panel included; Richard Thompson, Deputy Director Water Management and Investment at the Environment Agency, Nikita Pereplov, Head of Sustainable Development at Water UK; John Hensman, UK Market Leader - Water at GHD; and Mark England, VP Technology, Sensing & Engineering at Xylem.  

The panel reflected on the fact that water resilience is not keeping pace with climate change and the increased demand for water services, as a result of economic and population growth as well as urban migration. According to The World Bank Scaling Up Finance for Water, nine out of 10 natural disasters are water related. GHD's #Aquanomics report estimates that by 2050, flood and droughts could cause $5.6 trillion in cumulative losses to the global economy.

In order to be able to respond to the challenge, alongside demand reduction, water systems must be adequately prepared to withstand future extreme weather events to minimise the destructive impact on the environment. The speakers highlighted the role of early warning systems, digital asset management systems, smart water infrastructure and the potential of innovative applications for AI and IOT in this space - as well as opportunities in habitat restoration and nature-based solutions. All of these measures will depend on close collaboration between public bodies, utilities, research institutions and technology providers.

At British Expertise International, we are looking forward to the launch of our Water Resilience working group’s report next month, which will be addressing these issues. More soon.

Next Wednesday, we will have the next in our Strategy International series on key UK policy issues in the run-up to the General Election. This time, Senior Adviser Nick Forbes will talk about “The Devolution Arms and Place Race”. With a likely Labour emphasis on growth across the UK, this is likely to be an important topic for businesses with an operation (or public sector customers) in the UK, even if their main focus is international. 

If you haven’t seen it already, you might be interested in the Transition Finance Market Review ( supported by the City of London Corporation, with an aim of exploring how the UK can establish itself as a global hub for transition finance. The call for evidence which closes on 9 May; you can find more details by following the link. We will aim to invite the team to share their findings with BEI once the review is published.

Whether drafting your response or other preoccupations take up your weekend, I wish you an enjoyable and fruitful Bank Holiday break,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 8th May 2024 16:00 - 17:00 BST: The Devolution Arms and Place Race - Both main political parties have flagged an increasing commitment to regional devolved decision making. For Labour, greater economic devolution is a key pillar of their emerging industrial strategy. They are actively empowering local leaders to bring their knowledge to bear and tailor economic policy to support growth and aligned implementation of their core missions.
  • 14th May 2024 09:00 - 10:30 BST: FCDO Development Director: Indonesia & Minister-Counseller Development in UK Mission to ASEAN - Join us as we host Amanda McLoughlin, FCDO Development Director in Indonesia for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), as well as Minister-Counsellor Development for the UK Mission ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations), who will present FCDO’s development strategy, programming and pipeline of opportunities in Indonesia and in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat.
  • 16th May 2024 16:00-18:30 BST: Addressing the Skills Gap - Join us for an in-person round table on Addressing the Skills Gap. Pearson will provide a better understanding of the current skills gap in the UK and globally. They will also discuss solutions for employers which build towards a sustainable approach to developing skills that is able to respond to future economic and global transformation, especially in the infrastructure and climate change sectors.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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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