UNU-CRIS has entered a new phase in its existence. In October 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between UNU-CRIS, Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel which formally established a new partnership and brought about a new (and promising) era.
As the Institute’s new Director since June 2017 I aspire to build on the important groundwork carried out by the Founding Director of the Institute, Luk van Langenhove and his team, which was maintained during the interim directorship of Anthony Antoine between the fall of 2016 and June 2017, while also embarking upon additional activities that the new partnership allows for.
We are very grateful to the Flemish government for its continued support and aim, in return, to fulfill the ambitions contained in the MoU of 2016 (as well as a second MoU signed in the summer of 2017). The goal is to create an active and academically ‘visible’ research community at UNU-CRIS, engaged with exploring a variety of challenges to regional and global governance.
In the fall of 2017, we released a new Strategic Plan for UNU-CRIS 2017-2021 which directly builds upon the previously issued document ‘Towards a UNU-CRIS 2.0’. According to this plan, UNU-CRIS will seek to become a hub of academic excellence fostering synergies between its two partner universities and developing into an active and international center of research focused on the aims and activities of the United Nations. Specifically, it will focus its research on the search for new and stable patterns of governance in a variety of policy fields, including environmental policy, trade, economic policies and migration, in a regional and global context. It will address the tensions between globalization and regionalization, while exploring the potential that regionalization has for the creation of peace and stability at the global level. Furthermore, it will explore the evolving relationship between globalization, nation-statehood and democracy.
UNU-CRIS will focus on the provision of global and regional public goods, and on the processes and consequences of intra- and inter-regional integration, aiming to generate policy-relevant knowledge about new patterns of governance that are facilitating problem-solving in practice. UNU-CRIS will act as a resource for the United Nations system and aim to develop strong links with several United Nations bodies dealing directly with the provision and management of international and regional public goods.
Although the Key Performance Indicators for 2017 were only specified in detail in the fall, we are proud to report that most of these targets were nevertheless met over the course of the year, in terms of publications, activities and events as well as outreach. This bodes very well for 2018 which will certainly be even more active as the Institute builds upon its secured position. Let me thank all UNU-CRIS collaborators; the Institute’s Founding Director, the Director ad interim, our academic partners at Ghent University and at the VUB, as well as our Associate Research Fellows for their considerable work and continued efforts to get the most out of UNU-CRIS. The future of the Institute certainly looks promising! I look forward to pursuing the overall ambition of the Institute’s new orientation and strategic plan -- to become a ‘hub of excellence’ in Bruges.
Let us all work together to make this happen!