This month we take a look at some of the new initiatives Wilton Park is undertaking to reach out to more diverse audiences, strengthen links with our existing global networks of influence, and deepen our relationships with our local region and communities around the UK.
Henry Kissinger once said, “No foreign policy, no matter how ingenious, has any chance of success if it is borne in the minds of a few and carried in the hearts of none”. This is ever more true when the information environment is become increasingly crowded and where a vast range of actors – from the niche to the malign – have growing access to audiences across the UK and around the world.
Helping policy makers understand and engage with the challenge forms a significant stream of Wilton Park activity, and ensuring younger and more diverse voices are fully included is key. For this reason, we have recently established a Youth Ambassador scheme and internship programme, targeting younger people right across the UK and beyond traditional centres of foreign policy learning and debate. More details are below and we expect this initiative to grow over coming years as we play a greater role in ensuring the UK’s foreign policy is seen to engage with and benefit the concerns of UK communities. Alongside this we are making better use of the incredible networks of influence and expertise we benefit from in the form of attendees of past Wilton Park events. Now formalised as Friends of Wilton Park, with a shared LinkedIn group and an exciting events calendar shaping up, we expect this group to become key to our work and outreach over coming years.
The second area of expanding work for us is around more effectively engaging with and supporting the ambitions of communities and regions of the UK, including our own across Sussex. This is important so we can explore and demonstrate the growing recognition that our local, national and global identities, stories and ambitions are deeply intertwined. A good example of this is our support for SussExport, details of which are below. We will be building on this work over coming months and years working with cities, regions and devolved administrations, both in the UK and internationally, to support increasingly integrated and ambitious links between the UK and the world.
SussExport, now in it’s second year, takes place on 8th July and will welcome the local community from across the whole of Sussex to help promote the economic agenda of the UK, a key priority for this government.
This one-day event provides an opportunity for business, local government, MPs and other stakeholders across Sussex to help the region understand and connect with international counterparts, better articulate its international story and vision, and root it within the UK’s wider foreign policy.
We’ll bring together Sussex businesses to showcase the range of quality exportable products, produce and expertise on offer.
Stalls, networking plus workshops hosted by the Department for International Trade and others on potential market opportunities will be available.
Youth Ambassador Network
The Youth Ambassador Network is a network of university students that we have initiated to cultivate a more diverse generation of future leaders and provide a platform for young people interested in international diplomacy, development and global policy issues.
They are now busily finalising the Wilton Park-style dialogues that they will be hosting at their universities. Look out for reports on these soon.
After their time as Youth Ambassadors, they will be afforded entry to our Alumni group, Friends of Wilton Park (FoWP).
Friends of Wilton Park
Launched in 2021 to celebrate our 75th anniversary, Friends of Wilton Park (FoWP) was founded to perpetuate and strengthen our key asset; strong, connected, international networks. We know that networks work best in person, and this was why we are launching our regular FoWP networking evenings.
Over the 2022-23, we plan to host three themed networking evenings. Our first will be a collaboration with the British-American Parliamentary Group (BAPG) to host an evening in Parliament on the theme of the Transatlantic relationship. This collaboration will engage members of the BAPG network, the Wilton Park All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and members of the FoWP network interested in US-UK relations.
The Wilton Park Internship Programme
We reintroduced an internship programme at the end of 2021 and our first two interns, Sophie and Melissa, have been working with us since January 2022. They spent their first three months with the Venue and Logistics team supporting the delivery of our events and are now working within our Policy team.
This has seen them working on an array of exciting events from Health Futures to Human Rights Law, supporting the Youth Ambassador Network, working on concept notes, and even co-authoring event reports. They have also attended the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) Annual Conference and heard first hand from young professionals across the nuclear field.
“I have had the opportunity to work on some really important dialogues, and it has been such an amazing time interning at Wilton Park – it’s certainly prepared me well for the next step in my career!”
The Steyning Festival
The Steyning Festival incorporates diverse, high quality programmed events showcasing local, national and international talent within the village of Steyning, close to Wilton Park’s home at Wiston House.
We were delighted to support this year’s Festival by hosting two events. The first of these was a launch event for the Festival when our Head of Policy spoke about ‘The Mysteries of Wilton Park’ to an engaged local audience followed by a Q&A session.
At our second event, we were delighted to welcome veteran foreign correspondent John Simpson CBE, who discussed both his novel ‘Our Friends in Beijing’ and aspects of his amazing career with Tom Cargill, Chief Executive of Wilton Park, in front of a sold out audience.
This dialogue centres on Northern Ireland whose history has been marked by conflict, change, and peace-building, with the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 1998 a watershed moment in ending the period of the Troubles. Northern Ireland has seen genuine progress since then and, despite challenges that still exist, there is huge potential for its future and for the next generation.
Following on from Northern Ireland’s 2021 Centenary year, this meeting brings together key actors from politicians, academics, civil society and young people to reflect on the key issues, challenges and opportunities for Northern Ireland in the next decade.
It will explore the conditions needed for Northern Ireland to thrive and shape a prosperous and vibrant future, as well as work through the remaining challenges affecting Northern Ireland’s success and post conflict transformation and ask what needs to change in Northern Ireland over the coming years and decades in order to fully realise the hopes and ambitions of Northern Ireland’s young people.
Since February 2020, Wilton Park and partners have run a series of dialogues on ‘Healthy Societies, Healthy Populations‘ to explore the social, economic, and environmental determinants of healthy societies, the promotion of cross-sectoral approaches for better health and the prioritisation of health in other sectoral policies and settings.
The World Health Organization’s goal of improving the health and well-being of one billion people around the globe by 2023 provided the framing for the discussions, with the group exploring how to apply a proper response to building healthier societies.
In partnership with the Government of Sweden and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (WHO), the series aims to provide space and opportunities for groups and individuals with common interests to come together and explore what is needed to advance the healthy societies agenda, how this can be achieved, and the structures, networks and communities needed to lead this agenda in the years ahead.
This final dialogue was hosted at Wilton Park in mid-June, with senior decision makers and influencers from across the public and private sectors and civil society considering how a dynamic agenda can be delivered that results in healthier societies and healthier populations.
The British German Forum was established by Chancellor Kohl and Margaret Thatcher in 1985 and has been an annual event ever since.
It provides a dynamic space in which participants can network and share ideas among their peers and gain insight and inspiration from experienced professionals.
Through dialogue, it aims to facilitate both increased shared understanding and the building of strong relationships between influential young Britons and Germans, to deepen bilateral relations by inviting future leaders from both countries to engage in new dialogues and build partnerships.
The 2022 British German Forum event takes place on 4-6 July in association with the British Embassy in Berlin and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in London. It will take the UK-Germany Joint Declaration, the German election and coalition agreement, and the COVID pandemic as starting points from which to look further ahead and explore three areas: transforming economies to adapt societies to climate change and energy security, learning from the COVID pandemic and practising foreign policy based on ideas, causes and values.
Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and the SDG agendas
This event at the end of June explores how Freedom of Religion or Belief can help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will serve as an opportunity to engage religious actors and other key civil society representatives, academics, and policy makers in a focused and practical dialogue that seeks to explore and clarify a range of objectives including the development of recommendations for consideration during the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief to be hosted by the UK Government in July 2022.
Safe, Secure & Responsible Synthetic Biology Beyond Containment
This workshop in July will explore whether and how synthetic biology can be used safely, securely, and responsibly beyond containment.
We will assess what prerequisites should be met before we can consider using synthetic biology beyond containment; identify global challenges that may require use beyond containment, such as biodiversity, climate change, food security, and infectious diseases.
The dialogue will provide an opportunity to share concerns and opportunities, understand what work is already underway, and what next steps we should take. Participation will be drawn from key intergovernmental and international organizations, leading academics, and policy makers. We will also work to draw in perspectives from often under-represented groups, such as indigenous peoples and young scientists and engineers.