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Designing a policy event with Wilton Park

Wilton Park is a proven asset for global foreign policy development, providing a high-impact and flexible way to advance thinking and policy on key issues.

Participants at event lean in.

About Wilton Park:

Wilton Park brings together experts, policy makers and decision takers to solve complex global issues. A home of strategic thought, respectful dialogue, and discreet diplomacy, it’s the place people go when they need answers to difficult questions. It’s where people turn to when they need a space to resolve differences. Partners work with and return to Wilton Park because of its proven ability to generate new ideas, help them find practical solutions, and support them in building networks of influence.

Find out more about what Wilton Park does.

Networks and convening power:

Wilton Park is a proven asset for global foreign policy development, providing a high-impact and flexible way to advance thinking and policy on key issues. Holding around 80 strategic policy discussions a year in the UK and overseas, Wilton Park provides leading thinkers on foreign policy with a secure environment for frank discussion, time to reflect and unique access to groups of experts brought together from Wilton Park’s extensive network.

Wilton Park convenes around 3,500 key representatives and opinion formers from the worlds of politics, business, academia, diplomacy, civil society, defence, and media, representing over 120 countries per year. Wilton Park works closely with international partners on long-term, policy focused projects enabling them to test new policy strategy from the earliest planning stages through to implementation.

For government, Wilton Park helps to inject external thinking, build networks, promote agreement, and harness expertise that improves policy and provides strategic foresight. For businesses, it provides unique insights, a platform to engage with policy discussions and the opportunity to understand governments and make themselves better understood. For civil society groups, Wilton Park supports their representation enabling direct dialogue with decision makers, drawing on their subject expertise.

Learn more about recent events.

Policy development and programme themes:

Wilton Park performs various roles across the policy-making spectrum, from providing the space for the creative and provocative thinking necessary to shape an idea into a concept, through the process of sharpening and building consensus around an emerging policy, to convening parties to agreements to hammer out implementation. Wilton Park provides a safe space for sensitive issues to be surfaced and debated, leading to better policy-making. The Wilton Park Protocol for events underscores a commitment to protecting the privacy of participants and enables them to air their views openly and honestly, interacting with each other on an equal footing.

Wilton Park works regularly with international partners to design, organise, and run high quality meetings addressing UK and overseas foreign policy priorities. Wilton Park’s expert networks and convening power produce events on a wide range of critical issues. Wilton Park develops and organises discussions on themes proposed by partners, and on ideas that it initiates and discusses with potential partners. Objectives and outcomes are discussed and clearly defined at the outset to ensure maximum impact.

Wilton Park’s programme directors will help you design your event and many are subject matter experts. Current programmes include:

  • Conflict prevention, resolution and support for peace processes
  • Defence and security
  • Global economy
  • Global health
  • Human rights and faith
  • Climate change and the environment
  • Key countries and regions
  • Science and technology
  • Trade
  • Women and girls
  • Promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Global governance

Event formats:

Wilton Park has developed a renowned and respected style for its policy events. These often include but are not limited to:

  • Round-table format for plenary sessions to encourage full participation and active dialogue with expert facilitation.
  • To increase interaction between participants, different formats are included in the programme (e.g., working groups, world café style breakout sessions, dinner discussions) and facilitation techniques ranging from hands-on to hybrid) are used where appropriate.
  • There are usually no more than four 90-minute sessions per day with two to three two speakers per session, speaking for no longer than 10 minutes to allow up to an hour of discussion; PowerPoint presentations may be used where necessary, but are generally discouraged.
  • A Programme Director normally chairs all sessions.
  • Numbers are usually limited to around 50 to ensure maximum involvement from all participants.
  • Discussion is off the record and held under the Wilton Park Protocol.
  • Ample time is built into the programme for informal networking.
  • Discussions are held in English, with interpretation for up to two further languages possible.

Event locations:

Wilton Park hosts most of its residential events at its iconic headquarters in Wiston House, a modernised sixteenth-century Grade I listed building in West Sussex, set in secluded parkland at the foot of the South Downs. Wiston House is a major soft power asset and is recognised across the world as Wilton Park’s home for over seven decades. Benefits of running events here include:

  • Exclusive use of the house with professional, security cleared staff, high quality facilities and private gardens.
  • 45 ensuite bedrooms.
  • Outstanding hospitality and dedication to service.
  • All meals and refreshments prepared and served on-site.
  • Conference room with seating for up to 70 people; additional rooms available for meetings, break-out sessions, media use, prayer-room etc.
  • Support for audio visual requirements, video conferencing, interpreting.
  • Reception service and overnight security.
  • Free internet and Wi-Fi facilities.
  • 90 minutes’ drive from central London, 45 minutes from Gatwick, 90 minutes from Heathrow.

Wilton Park also regularly organises events in London and overseas with UK Embassies and other partners. In London, Wilton Park has held one-day events at venues such as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Lancaster House, the Royal Society, the Institute for Government, and the Queen Elizabeth II Centre. Events have also been organised in many overseas locations, including Mozambique, South Africa, Belize, Singapore, Vietnam, Panama, Ethiopia and throughout Europe. Wilton Park works with UK Embassies and High Commissions to choose appropriate external venues, ensuring that location, airport travel times, security, accommodation, and restaurant facilities, are considered. Overseas events take additional planning time and greater engagement with partners.

Partner involvement and costs:

Partners are encouraged to work closely with the Wilton Park team during the initial planning stages, after which the overall level of involvement is agreed. Wilton Park’s team is highly experienced at the policy and logistical management of events, they lead and manage the entire process, offering advice on programme, speakers, and participants where appropriate. A nominated partner contact is kept updated about relevant developments on a regular, agreed basis.

Wilton Park will draw up a costing for the proposed event considering likely participant numbers, length of event, venue, international flights, interpretation, and other requirements.

The costing covers programme development, managing the invitation process, organising logistics, all meals and accommodation for the duration of the event, chairing and hosting the event, overseeing the issuing of a report, and can include travel for participants. Other bespoke requirements can be discussed, and events tailored to partner needs.

Securing the full funding for an event will ensure the best possible expert group of participants can be brought together. Where this is not possible, we will discuss ideas for potential co-sponsors, e.g., other governments, government departments or non-government organisations.

Partner with Wilton Park

If you’d like to explore developing a policy event at Wilton Park, please email and a member of the team will be back in touch with you as soon as possible.

Get in touch

Wilton Park is a space for innovative ideas, honest conversation, and, as I have experienced over the last 15 years, a place for deep dialogue, building friendships, and harnessing connections for real work action. I have lost track of the amazing ideas and work that I have been involved in through Wilton Park.

Abdul-Rehman Malik, Lecturer & Associate Research Fellow, Yale Divinity School

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