Foreign and Commonwealth Office Building in London

The League team that worked on the 9th Forum for the Future program recently traveled to the United Kingdom with a colleague from the U.S. Department of State to meet with the newly appointed 2013 G8 Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) team. The United Kingdom has assumed the 2013 G8 presidency and has selected the Arab Republic of Egypt to co-lead the BMENA Initiative.

The trip showcased London at its best; the fickle weather alternated between sunny and crisp mornings and early afternoons with cold and snowy late afternoons and evenings. Our meetings were held in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, equivalent to our U.S. Department of State, located on King Charles Street, City of Westminster. The building also houses the Imperial War Museum, which is home to the original Cabinet War Rooms, the wartime bunker that sheltered Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his government during the Blitz of World War II.

Over the course of nine hours, the League and the U.S. Department of State shared information and lessons learned about what worked and what did not work with a British team that seemed as bewildered as the League was merely a year ago. We did not have the benefit of meeting face to face with the 2011 BMENA team and in retrospect it would have been very helpful. Nevertheless, we achieved success by reaching agreement in the 2012 Civil Society and Private Sector Recommendations and unanimous agreement on the 9th Forum for the Future Declaration. The League plans to continue to share key information with the new team.

Through our trip to London, we have successfully passed the baton on this important project. The UK and Egyptian teams will soon be making the final decision about their nongovernmental partners. The new team has decided to continue with the same three themes: women’s empowerment, economic governance and entrepreneurship and freedom of expression and association. We wish the 2013 Forum for the Future team success and are excited to see what great work will come out of this partnership.