BEI Weekly Update
May 24, 2024

BEI Weekly Update - 24th May 2024

Dear Members and Friends, 

I was planning to start this week with some reflections on the Western Balkans where I have spent the past few days. The short version is that there is a political element to even the most “technical” questions, that everything is somehow interrelated and that even the (broadly) predictable can have a big impact.

From this, it’s perhaps not too big a leap to the UK news of the week in the form of the General Election announced for 4 July. At BEI, we have for some months been actively discussing many of the themes which the next Government of whatever form will have to tackle, but the timing of an election still has the power to surprise, as it has done this time (I had my - virtual - money on late autumn). In the short term, the election timing (and purdah) will have an impact on our programme, including of course the postponement of the Meet the Ambassador Series as well as a number of other engagements with political figures and officials, but we will continue to be working, alongside our sister organisations D Group and British Foreign Policy Group, to understand the parties’ agenda and to prepare for the day after. More on all this as details become clear.

Whatever happens on 4 July, we will certainly remember 22 May… as the day on which BEI launched its education report: “Systems Strengthening: The UK Education providers’ contribution to the global education systems” which you can read here. Taking place around the Education World Forum, the launch places BEI and our members at the centre of the global education debate. The launch event at Prince Philip House, was co-hosted by DBT Minister Lord Offord of Garvel, who also delivered a keynote speech. We were delighted to welcome a number of senior British political figures including Nick Gibb MP, Graham Stuart MP, Charles Clarke, as well as a good number of education ministers from around the world, including delegations from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Egypt, Thailand. This was by all accounts a magnificent launch for a genuinely impactful report. Thanks and congratulations go not only to Luisa and the BEI team but also to all our members who gave time to contribute their case studies of - to coin a phrase - British expertise. We will be working hard to ensure that the report goes far and wide and helps to create new opportunities.

Our event on Thursday couldn’t have been more topical. For this week’s “Election Watch”, Strategy International’s Senior Adviser Nick Forbes was joined by BFPG Director Evie Aspinall for a session on – ‘Britain’s Place in the World: Linking Foreign and Defence Policy with Trade’. Nick and Evie explored Labour’s approach to joining up the UK’s international engagement, linking foreign and defence policy with diplomacy, trade and development. The session looked at how Labour plans to coordinate the Government machinery in these areas as well as align international policy with a comprehensive national industrial strategy. The discussion highlighted the considerable journey ahead for Labour in shifting from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’ and flagged the value that BEI members can provide in fleshing out the implementation of a coherent and joined-up set of domestic and foreign policies. The session finished with a top-level exploration of the international policy battlelines being drawn between the two major parties in the wake of the general election announcement, with defence and security, migration, and conflict in the Middle East taking centre stage. Evie has written a blog for BFPG which touches on these here.

Next week, on a rather different note, I am looking forward to hosting on Tuesday an online event: “Mauritania – Market Overview & Opportunities”. In this session, we will explore opportunities for UK organisations in Mauritania and learn about advice and support available for commercial entities operating in the wider region. Speakers include HE Abdel Aziz Dahi, Former Minister of Economy, Digital Transformation, Fisheries and Governor of the Central Bank; and Matthew Anderson, Chair of the Mauritian-British Business Council.

Next Thursday we have the next in our “Intersections” series: “Intersections of Climate & Migration”. Speakers will include Yannick Beaudoin, Director of Climate Change and Nature-Positive Solutions at Alinea; Dr Ilan Kelman, Professor of Disaster and Health at University College London; and Dr Cláudia Santos, an independent consultant and researcher.

Finally, back to the Balkans, where I first worked over 25 years ago. A few more reflections. “Progress” isn’t all in one direction and rarely happens at the pace of the most ambitious, though that doesn’t mean that progress can’t be made – and much has indeed changed for the better. History isn’t forgotten overnight, or even in 25 years, even if it’s easy for those who live a thousand and more miles away to wish that it could be. And though communication has never been easier, we all need to try harder not to misunderstand and not to be misunderstood. Whether any of that has any relevance to the forthcoming British elections, I’ll leave to readers to decide.

In the meantime, with a hectic period ahead, my best wishes for a restful Bank Holiday weekend.

David Landsman 

Executive Chairman

British Expertise International 

Recordings of recent past events:

Key events coming up include the following:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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