WELCOME TO OUR CLIMATE ISSUE.
For regular readers of Diplomat magazine, it is plain to see a clear theme: the health pandemic has not only provided an opportunity to build back better but build back greener. And the delayed COP26 summit in November offers the perfect stage for governments to demonstrate their leadership and expertise in this area. For these ongoing discussions throughout the year, do follow our Maximising COP26 webinar series with former UK Home Secretary Rt Hon Amber Rudd as chair.
We are thrilled to have some important contributions in this issue, including our cover story from the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, who is also the current chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). Sheikh Hasina seeks to secure the interests of the ‘Vulnerable 48’ at COP26. She says that like Bangladesh, every CVF nation bears an irreversible climate loss, despite contributing relatively little to global emissions. It is time to address this climate injustice.
In his contribution, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai says “The post-COVID world requires a rethink – a paradigm shift – of how we pursue economic growth. Our current path has put human activities in direct conflict with nature, creating imbalances in the forms of climate change, the pandemic, and even social unrest.”
We need to move from ambition to action in 2021, write the UK’s COP26 Envoy John Murton and Finland’s Ambassador for Climate Change Jan Wahlberg in their double contribution. They note how UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called the pandemic a dress rehearsal for future global challenges, stating “The links between climate, biodiversity and people have certainly never been clearer.”
Closer to home, former FCDO Press Secretary Simon McGee says the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy is the Global Britain blueprint that everyone has been waiting for. He says it looks and feels like a weighty statement of intent, and “crucially, Global Britain finally has substance.”
On that note, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP considers the fact that the monarchy could be a mixed blessing for the new global UK. Following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah – one which certainly touched a nerve, or several – he tackles the weighty subject of why the Brits retain a monarchy in our Westminster Reflections column.
James Landale’s article on music and diplomacy is an absolute delight. From the Embassy of Sweden in London celebrating the feast of Sankta Lucia in December to a controversial orchestra bringing together young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and Arab countries and became a UN global advocate for cultural understanding, his piece reminds us of the importance of soft power in times like these. The highlight must be Japan’s Ambassador and Consul General in New York, Yamanouchi Kanji, who broadcast a video of himself thrashing out the Star-Spangled Banner on the guitar to mark the 4th of July 2020!
Education Attachés take note of Imperial College London’s summer courses. As the top UK university for science and engineering, they are offering both online and residential courses for international students, including their Global Space Design Challenge, in which the winning team has a chance to visit NASA Space Centre in Florida. For further details, please contact Les Webb of Education Advisors at E: email@example.com
Diplomat continues to review the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassadors of Afghanistan, Iceland and Slovakia.
With international travel still mostly off the cards, Diplomat has combined a bucket list of destinations with the world’s best swimming pools. We can still dream – or even better, plan for brighter days ahead. If you are planning VIP delegations for either the G7 in June or COP26 in November look to Sentinel Operations who, with decades in the business, can help with your logistics. If you also require some London accommodation, the newly opened Henry’s Townhouse can provide a private home away from home in the capital.
Please do stay in touch and send me article suggestions, new appointments and mission news that you would like covered. Follow and contact us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – our reach is growing on these platforms – we are happy to share your news on social media too.
Please stay safe in the meantime.
Venetia de Blocq van Kuffeler