Floating ideas for liquid times

Alan Philps takes the mood as speakers weigh risks and opportunities in an uncertain world

The World Today Published 3 August 2018 Updated 10 November 2020 2 minute READ

Alan Philps

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

Chatham House’s fifth London Conference, held at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel from June 21-22, set out to identify key risks and opportunities in a world where the norms of international politics appear to be crumbling. Summing up the frailty of old certainties, the Turkish author Elif Shafak said: ‘We all live in liquid times.’

The opening speaker, Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, challenged the prevailing mood of disquiet by focusing on the dramatic improvement in the life chances of the world’s poor.

‘By any standards … the world is actually becoming a better place. Over the past few decades we have reduced global poverty by around a billion people,’ she said.

The secretary of state reeled off a list of issues facing post-Brexit Britain, including ‘the challenge of China, the threat from Russia’. After she had finished, a questioner from the audience asked: What about the challenge from the United States?

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