Looking ahead: foreign policy reform in 2008

The last working day before Christmas.  Time to brave the streets and get those last few presents?  Bah!  Here at Global Dashboard we’re made of sterner stuff, so naturally our thoughts are skipping over the festive season altogether and focusing instead on strategic goals for 2008 – and in particular the need, still outstanding, to fix the UK’s foreign policy apparatus.

So here, in what passes for our warped variation on festive cheer, are two stocking fillers to print out and take home with you: the full text of Sir Richard Mottram’s speech on national security, given at Demos earlier this week, and a speech on FCO reform given by William Wallace at Chatham House on 7 December.

There’s now a burgeoning literature on why and how governments need to overhaul their co-ordination structures to deal more effectively with cross-cutting global risks like terrorism, climate change, pandemics, energy security and economic shocks.  So early next year, we’ll be launching a ‘canon’ of reading on the theory and practice of reforming foreign policy to deal more effectively with global risks.  Please let us know what should be on it and we’ll link to it.  (You can find our email addresses on the Contact page.)

2007 has been a rich year for debate of these issues, but consensus on the actual reforms needed lies still in the future.  The UK is an especially good country in which to start work on some tangible proofs of concept, given the range of people here thinking actively about these issues, and given Britain’s potential to act as a springboard from which to apply innovations to EU, UN and other international bodies also suffering from a coherence deficit. Given how many global risks are now coming home to roost, 2008 is the year in which debate needs to turn into action.  

Happy Christmas.