Fixing the Foreign Office

When Gordon Brown takes over as PM, there will be no shortage of clouds on the international horizon. Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan will vie for his attention, of course. But he will also need to push for a breakthrough on the slow burning drivers of instability.

Climate change, resource depletion, fragile states, global economic imbalances, infectious diseases: it’s easy to write a shopping list of the risks for which the world has little insurance. One day, a number of these threats will combine in a ‘perfect storm’. The modern world’s vulnerability to shocks will then be cruelly exposed.

Protecting its citizens from risk is core business for any government. Brown has already signalled that he wants to lead a renewed effort to tackle the major sources of global uncertainty. To succeed it will be critical for him to know he can rely on Britain’s foreign policy apparatus.

There’s just one problem. He can’t.

We’ve just published a paper on this, formatted as a note to Gordon Brown, plus a shorter article on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site.