28th Pontignano Conference: “United Kingdom and Italy: Together for a prosperous, safe and sustainable future”

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  • Opening with a video-message by H.R.H. Prince Charles, the 28th edition of the Pontignano Conference addresses possible solutions to the common challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Former President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano will receive the “Pontignano Award” in recognition of his contribution to improving bilateral relations between Italy and the United Kingdom.
  • The first partly virtual Pontignano Conference sees the largest ever ministerial participation from the two countries.

Chaired by Carlo Calenda and David Willetts, this year’s edition addresses ‘United Kingdom and Italy: together for a prosperous, secure and sustainable future’. There will be experts in a wide range of fields and leading figures from the governments of London and Rome. In support of the importance of the occasion, the vast ministerial representation will be present and virtual. For Italy there will be the Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family, Elena Bonetti, the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitisation, Paola Pisano, the Deputy Foreign Minister Elisabetta Del Re (remotely), the Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni and the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Manlio Di Stefano. For the United Kingdom (physically present) will be Financial Secretary of the Treasury and Minister for Equal Opportunities, Kemi Badenoch MP, the Secretary of State of the newly formed Superintendent for Foreign Affairs and International Development (FCDO) Lord Goldsmith, the Secretary of State for Health Lord Bethell (remote) and the Secretary of State for Trade, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, also responsible for the UK’s COP26 agenda.

The importance of the occasion for bilateral relations between Italy and the United Kingdom and beyond will be underlined by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, whose message will open the proceedings on Thursday in the Aula Magna of the University of Siena. Referring to the scourge of the coronavirus, in his speech H.R.H. reports how he has the ”greatest admiration for all those who have been able to demonstrate such great resilience and an extraordinary feeling of mutual solidarity, in the most difficult moments in the initial period of the crisis and now that our two countries are facing the increasingly urgent shared challenges of a green, inclusive and sustainable recovery”. He then adds: “This is obviously a challenge for the world as a whole, so an international commitment will be needed if we are to achieve a global reset, or rather, a restart that works for everyone, that assists the most vulnerable and is able to preserve our delicate balance with Nature”. “Next year, the UK and Italy will have great responsibility for this recovery. Our two nations will assume the G7 and G20 presidencies. In addition, the UK will host the 26th United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in partnership with Italy. Together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to take the initiative, shape the debate and ensure truly better reconstruction on a global scale”.

The British Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the prosperity and security of the entire globe, as well as public health. The UK and Italy, linked by a historic friendship and alliance, have a duty to tackle the impact of the crisis together and lay the foundations for a prosperous, secure and sustainable future for generations to come. The collaboration at COP26, the G7 and G20 Presidencies in 2021 and the ongoing UK-Italy Partners for Culture initiative are a unique opportunity to influence global action in this and other major challenges of the 21st century. They also demonstrate our common determination to act for the common good”.

“The Covid-19 has shaken our society in every respect. I look forward to this year’s Pontignano Conference to explore ways in which cultural and educational institutions can best overcome the challenges of the Coronavirus, to support and address the social inequalities laid bare by the pandemic in our two countries,” Rachel Launay, British Council Italy Country Director commented.

The conference will start on Thursday 1st October at 6 pm in the Aula Magna of the University of Siena. Greetings from the Co-Presidents, Carlo Calenda and David Willetts, and the Rector of the University of Siena, Prof. Francesco Frati, will be followed by the opening speeches by the Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family, Elena Bonetti, and the Financial Secretary of the Treasury and Minister for Equal Opportunities, Kemi Badenoch MP, who will talk about an inclusive approach to recovery from the pandemic.

On the occasion of the opening of the proceedings, the first “Pontignano Award”, awarded to the President Emeritus and Lifelong Senator Giorgio Napolitano, will also be presented. The prize is awarded for the enormous contribution made to improving bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Italy and support for the Pontignano Conference, the main event on the bilateral agenda for almost thirty years. The prize will be collected by the Senator’s son, Giulio Napolitano.

The Conference will continue on Friday and Saturday behind closed doors, under the Chatham House Rule*, at the Certosa of Pontignano, just outside Siena, and will focus on four thematic areas that will allow participants to address some fundamental issues for the future of our countries and Europe.

The afternoon in-depth sessions will focus on:

Our Security in the Future

Moderator: Dr. Karin von Hippel, General Manager, Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) – General Giovanni Iannucci, Head of Department III of the Defence General Staff, Ministry of Defence
– David Hogan-Hearn, Director Euro-Atlantic Security, UK Ministry of Defence

Priorities for Future Trade and Investment between Italy and the UK

Moderator: Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli, Correspondent for the Financial Times in Italy
– Roberto Luongo, General Manager of the Italian Trade Agency (ICE) – Richard Burn, HM Trade Commissioner for Europe

Coronavirus and Technological Innovation – seizing opportunities, reducing risks

Moderator: Hilary Newiss, Non-Executive Director, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult – Ilaria Capua, Director One Health Centre of Excellence, University of Florida (in virtual connection) – Carole Mundell, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser (in virtual link) – Chairman Giorgio Saccoccia, Italian Space Agency (ASI)

More united or more distant? What is the impact of the Coronavirus on our societies? And how should we react?

Moderator: Kirsty Lang, Journalist, BBC – Nick Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy, USC (in virtual link) – Rachele Furfaro, President of Fondazione Foqus, Naples

Saturday will open with speeches by Minister and President COP26 the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, followed by Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni and Minister FCDO the Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith. Following this, the human cost of climate change will be discussed, with contributions from Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change Conference High Level Champion, Nick Dyer, Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs.

The last session on Saturday will address the issue of “new normality” with contributions from Kajal Odedra, Managing Director, Change.org UK, Tony Sewell, CEO of Generating Genius and President of HMG Commission on Race, Giampiero Griffo, Head of the Technical-Scientific Committee of the National Observatory on the condition of people with disabilities and Marta Foresti, Director, ODI- Europe.

The XXVIII edition of the Pontignano Conference is supported by Algebris Investment, APCO Worldwide, Equita, GSK, Jaguar Land-Rover, Leonardo, Novamont and Snam.

  • Chatham House Rule: when a meeting or part of a meeting is held in accordance with Chatham House Rule participants are free to use the information received but may not reveal the identity or affiliation of the speaker(s) or any other participant who has provided it.

Concept note and links to material and images: www.britishcouncil.it/pontignano Social: the Twitter channels of British Council @itbritish and British Embassy @UKinItalia, @UKinItaly and @JillMorrisFCO will follow the Conference with the hashtag #Pontignano2020

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