It has been an extraordinary year of change for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest challenge to the world for generations. Millions have lost their lives or suffered devastating impacts on their health, both from COVID-19 itself and because health systems have been unable to deliver treatments for other conditions. The pandemic has also caused the greatest shock to the global economy since the 1930s, setting back the progress of recent years in eliminating poverty, getting more children into education and improving global health.
This means Chatham House is needed more than ever. Our world-leading convening and cutting-edge research on the major challenges facing the world, from building more sustainable economic growth and tackling climate change to easing geopolitical tensions, has continued despite the challenges of lockdown. For that I pay tribute to the resilience and ingenuity of the staff who have found innovative solutions to the obstacles presented by the pandemic, all while working largely from home.
This year I am also delighted to note the exceptional gift of £10 million from the MAVA Foundation to enable us to launch the Sustainability Accelerator. This initiative builds on the Hoffmann Centre’s last five years of innovative convening and activity. And it puts sustainability at the core of the institute’s work in this critical year for addressing climate change and biodiversity.
So, as I prepare to step down from my three years as chair of the institute, I would like to thank my fellow Council members and Robin Niblett and his team for their hard work and ambition to deliver on Chatham House’s mission. I have also been especially pleased to see how we are engaging younger, more diverse audiences through the next generation initiatives, including our Panel of Young Advisers, the Common Futures Conversations project, the QEII Academy Ambassadors, our Internship Programme and the Chatham House-SNF CoLab.
I am particularly pleased about the Chatham House Summer School, where 16–18-year-olds can now engage with experts on international affairs and get an insight into careers within the charity and not-for-profit sector.
It has been an honour to lead this extraordinary institution and I look forward to continuing my involvement with Chatham House in new ways.
Lord Jim O’Neill