BEI Weekly Update - 5th January 2024

Dear Members and Friends,

I hope that you, your families and colleagues are safe and well and that you have managed a relaxing break. On behalf of the whole team at BEI, I wish you a happy and successful 2024.

I trust you will excuse a slightly longer newsletter than usual, as I wanted to share with you some thoughts on the bigger picture behind our work in the coming year, before we get to the programme for the coming weeks which is here. If you can, please also take a look at our 2023 Yearbook, covering our work, and that of our sister organisations in Strategy International.   I hope you find it an interesting read.

It’s sadly the case that the world does not start 2024 in a happy place. As we hope for signs of improvement, I know that many BEI members are right now contributing to alleviating suffering and building a better future. That’s something to be proud of.

This year will have plenty of change in store for the world, not least a quite daunting tally of national elections, from the US to Russia, from India to South Africa, among many others. Our sister organisation, BFPG, will be following closely the most important for UK foreign policy and I encourage you to look out for their research and to reach out to Evie and the team with your questions and thoughts.

Meanwhile, 2024 is of course an election year for the UK too and many of us will be trying hard to understand how the outcome may affect our activities. Despite the turbulence in so many regions around the world right now, experience tells us that foreign policy is unlikely to be the prominent part of a no doubt noisy and at times unedifying campaign. But, as an internationally-focused (and of course non-partisan) organisation, we will be engaging closely with the main parties both to understand their thinking on how to grow the UK’s economic and development footprint around the world. It’s not BEI’s business to lobby for specific policies and interests, but I do think we have a vital role to play in sharing the practical experience of our members in almost every part of the world, so that we can help whoever forms the next Government to put their priorities and values into practice in the most effective way. On the topic of elections, I have written a blog for our sister organisation the British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG) on the complex power of elections and how they influence geopolitics. I hope you can find a few minutes to take a look. Meanwhile, I’d also like you to draw your attention to BFPG’s current campaign to recruit a new Advisory Board. They are keen to attract diverse candidates from across business, government and civil society. More information can be found here.

Many of our members will of course want to get across more specific messages about their areas of interest in the hopes of influencing future Ministers. It’s tough: during a campaign year, politicians’ resources will be quite unimaginably stretched: while the current government has to think about its manifesto while continuing with the day job, oppositions are almost laughably under-resourced to explore policy.   After the election, the civil service “machine” keeps the show on the road and new Ministers have to be highly selective as to where they are going to make changes. And while on the subject of resources, whoever wins there’s going to be little money to support grand ideas, so the competition for projects will be tough. This provides an opportunity, not (I would suggest) to overload campaigning politicians with asks, but to make oneself useful to them by providing focused insights and granular examples of how we can do better, if not always more, so that British expertise plays the leading role it can around the world.

Our members are involved in two key pillars of the UK’s international agenda: trade and international development, or both. On trade, members’ views on how DBT and Embassies around the world can help the UK do more business should be welcome: there is a need for a joined-up UK understanding of international infrastructure opportunities and on how the Government can do more to help bring projects and sources of finance together. We are keen to play a role in curating and sharing the best thinking, working where we can with the D Group, which focuses on the UK national agenda but with overlapping interests, most obviously on skills and technologies to move towards net zero.

On international development, BFPG’s research tells us that voters are as open to the moral case for the UK doing good around the world as to the more utilitarian arguments for development as supporting the national interest. In either case, our members will be well placed to provide concrete examples of where we can do the most with the available resources. Our events, including the ID Heads of Business series, will help to provide a forum for these discussions.

I would very much welcome your views on what we can do more of, or at least better, in the coming year. Meanwhile, putting all this into practice, our January programme starts with a number of contentful events, most notably next Wednesday where we are joined by representatives from FCDO, DAI Global and Social Development Direct to discuss the important topic of safeguarding.

With best wishes for the weekend,

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 10th January 2024 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. GMT: Safeguarding Panel - Join us for a webinar discussion with representatives from FCDO, DAI Global and Social Development Direct on the topic of safeguarding. This event willS be opened by Peter Taylor, Head of Safeguarding Unit, FCDO, who will offer remarks on CAPSEAH. The panel will provide an overview of the best practices in implementing safeguarding through all aspects of operations and programming, as well as addressing the challenges of implementation.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

Register for an upcoming event →

External Events

  • 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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