Director's statement

I wrote a year ago that the world has entered one of the most politically turbulent periods in the modern era. This rings even more true now, as relations have seriously deteriorated between the US administration and its European allies, while instability persists across the Middle East, and China and Russia increase their strategic influence.

Over the past year, Chatham House has assessed these changes and proposed ways to manage the associated risks, while seeking out opportunities to expand prosperity and security across the world. Adam Ward, our deputy director, led the publication of the first Chatham House Expert Perspectives report on risks and opportunities in international affairs, to coincide with our fifth annual London Conference on 21–22 June 2018. The conference was attended by over 450 participants from 71 countries.

Furthermore, using our new simulation centre on the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Floor, our research teams are ‘stress-testing’ their ideas in exercises involving both practitioners and experts. For example, in June 2017 the Centre on Global Health Security and the Africa Programme hosted our first scenario exercise, which explored how to respond to a humanitarian emergency that required landmine clearance. Since then, we have hosted other simulation and scenario planning exercises, including on cyberattacks, Brexit ‘futures’ and the rise of the populist parties in Europe.

We have also used the new facilities to host events supported by modern audiovisual systems; to stress-test our own communications strategy; and even to conduct a round of scenario-based interactive job interviews. The new media studio and editing facilities have led us to create more multimedia content, which has, in turn, enabled us to reach expanded and more diverse audiences for our work. The new SNF Floor has also provided staff with an open, multifunctional meeting area and has alleviated some of the space pressures which had been created by our growing staff numbers.

As you will read in the following pages, our research is currently centred around three themes: making the world more secure in uncertain times; offering new ideas on how societies can flourish and be prosperous; and contributing to a more just society. A growing number of cross-cutting projects enable us to address topics within each of these themes, including cyberthreats, transatlantic relations, the future of the EU–China economic relationship, regulating data, vulnerabilities in global food trade and implementing universal health coverage.

Our ability to do so has been enhanced by the appointment of several new senior research staff: Hans Kundnani as senior fellow in the Europe Programme; Champa Patel as head of the Asia- Pacific Programme; and Leslie Vinjamuri as head of the US and the Americas Programme and dean of the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs. In addition, Bernice Lee will take over as the new research director of our Global Economy and Finance Department, alongside her continuing role as executive director of the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy.

During the coming months, we will lay the foundations to mark the institute’s centenary in the summer of 2020. In doing so, we will draw on our archives to acknowledge the institute’s unique achievements over the past 100 years, recognize those many individuals who have supported us along the way, and set out our objectives for the future. In preparation, we have already launched a series of members’ events with a historical focus, examining how the lessons from the past can inform international affairs and policy thinking today.

In closing, I would like to pay tribute and offer my sincere thanks to Stuart Popham, who steps down this year after six years as chair of the institute and 13 years between 2005 and 2018 as a member of Council. Stuart has been a tremendous support and guide to me, and to the institute as a whole, during this period. His measured advice to management and collegiate leadership of Council have been invaluable during a period in which the institute has more than doubled in size, and in which it has thrived despite the increasingly competitive environment for policy convening, analysis and ideas. We look forward to welcoming Stuart back to Chatham House as a highly engaged individual member, and wish him all the best for the future.

Robin Niblett CMG