WELCOME TO THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF DIPLOMAT
FORMER UK HEALTH SECRETARY Stephen Dorrell summed up the past few months neatly with a quote from Lenin: “there are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.” Even within the confines of my four walls (of family life and running a business) this aphorism couldn’t seem more appropriate. The responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of diplomats and governments around the globe to manage the daily implications of this pandemic and what it means for economies, workforces and business are huge.
To help governments share best practice and information, we launched the World Economic Series along with our partners at Public Policy Projects. Inaugurated in late June, this digital forum now hosts an international discussion about the policy framework required by the changed circumstances created by the pandemic. Two or three times each month, the World Economic Series focuses on a different country or region with its respective Ambassador leading a webinar alongside a prominent member of their government or local thought leader. Our purpose is to create a forum that allows participants to compare their thinking and learn from each other on the economic and political priorities facing the international community at a time of profound change.
Chaired by Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, the first event welcomed Her Majesty’s Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps Alistair Harrison CMG CVO and the Rt Hon Lord Mayor of London Alderman William Russell to kick off the discussion and set the context for the series. The opening meeting was attended by more than 100 diplomatic missions from around the world, creating a forum for discussion on an issue from which no individual nation is immune. The Marshal described the crisis as “the most challenging of our lifetime,” which has caused unimaginable disruption to almost every sector and, in many places, has redrawn the economic map entirely.
Since then, we’ve hosted editions of the World Economic Series with keynote speakers including the Ambassadors of Japan, Thailand and the EU. Our sessions have raised the importance of global collaboration in addressing the COVID-19 crisis, especially emphasising the value of economic diplomacy in efforts to aid global economic recovery. ‘Building back better’ and a focus on green investment to push innovation and encourage economic growth are just some of the themes we will be discussing going forward.
This autumn, we have an exciting line of up events on Central America, South Korea, Colombia, the UK, and many more. We will also continue with sporadic thematic sessions like the Mental Health edition we hosted with keynote speakers from the World Health Organisation, One Young World and Cigna healthcare in early September. There is plenty more to come from the World Economic Series.
This issue of Diplomat magazine also contains an exciting insight into Botswana, a peaceful democracy with an excellent investment climate, not to mention the world’s biggest concentration of African elephants. Elsewhere, Diplomat considers the impact of the upcoming US elections on the UK; we profile UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak; we have a message from the Dean of the Latin American Corps ahead of an important anniversary next year, and we explore how national image can be a distraction from the serious business of good governance in a globalised world. And let’s not forget Brexit. In his regular Westminster Reflections column, Sir Bernard Jenkin asks, if there is ‘no deal,’ is that Brexit done? He says, no.
Diplomat also continues to review the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting the Ambassador of Belgium. Again, social distancing measures meant that this interview was conducted online, so I look forward to a time when I can meet His Excellency and other heads of mission face-to-face again.
In our lifestyle pages, despite long-distance travel being on hold for now, it doesn’t stop us planning for the future. Diplomat dreams of a wilderness destination in Panama that fits the bill for social distancing and a meaningful connection with nature. As the capital’s hospitality industry reopens, we consider the London hotels best suited to conducting diplomacy, and suggest some stylish but practical alternatives to handle the day-to-day realities of the pandemic. (This includes silk face coverings and science-backed CBD products to handle anxiety and sleep issues – it’s well worth a look.)
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 – we are happy to share your news on social media too.
Please stay safe in the meantime.
VENETIA DE BLOCQ VAN KUFFELER