2018 has been a year of growth and dynamism at UNU-CRIS as we have welcomed new team members and noticeably expanded our activities. We continue to enjoy a strong relationship with both our partner institutes Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB), and have coordinated on projects, co-hosted conferences and organised workshops with them both throughout the year. We are also very thankful to the Flemish government for its ongoing support.
In the 2018 Annual Report you will be able to read in more detail about what has been a busy 2018 at UNU-CRIS. In May, two particular activities of note occurred in quick succession. Firstly, we had the privilege of welcoming Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rector of the United Nations University, Professor David Malone to Bruges. Rector Malone concluded his visit by delivering a lecture entitled ‘The UN Security Council, at Grips with Tectonic Geo-Strategic Change’ which was followed by a high-level academic panel presentation, all set in the stunning Bruges’ Gothic Town Hall. The event had a broad outreach, attracting students, academics, policy practitioners and diplomats as well as members of the local community and it was very pleasing to witness the stimulating and diverse set of questions that were asked by the attendees. The following day marked the start of the biannual, three day ‘European Union in International Affairs’ conference in Brussels for which UNU-CRIS was a co-host. This provided an excellent platform to promote the UNU brand to leading academics and policy-makers from around the world who came to participate in the academic panels and attend the keynote speeches and debates.
2018 saw the launch of two new research projects; ‘Parliamentary Deliberation in Inter-Regional Relations: an Analysis of Climate Change Debates in the EU’s Parliamentary Assemblies with the ACP, the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Eastern Neighbourhood Regions’ (PADIRE) and ‘Global and Regional Multistakeholder Institutions’ (GREMLIN) to complement the ongoing RIKS, AMIREG and EL-CSID projects. The activities of these larger research projects have been augmented by a steady stream of conferences, workshops and training and capacity events, including the first ever UNU Simulation Game, as well as a vibrant academic research output. Furthermore, we relaunched the UNU-CRIS research seminar series in earnest with no less than eleven events spread across the year that offered the opportunity to gain insights into a wide variety of different thematic areas from a range of leading experts.
The UNU-CRIS team also grew in 2018 as we welcomed three new permanent appointees. I am delighted to welcome Dr. Ine Lietaert who joins as a new Assistant Professor, and Els Bekaert and Domenico Valenza who have both commenced their PhD fellowships. Since completing her PhD at Ghent University, Dr. Lietaert has been investigating processes of return migration and reintegration with a particular focus on the development of support mechanisms and support policies for people on the move in various regions of the world. Her arrival at UNU-CRIS comes at a time when this topic is at the forefront of global debates.
Looking back at a successful year at the Institute, during which all of our Key Performance Indicators were met, I would like to extend a special thanks to UNU Headquarters, our partners at Ghent University and the VUB, as well as to our Associate Research Fellows for the continued work they do in supporting UNU-CRIS. 2019 looks set to be another exciting year filled with new initiatives, not least the launch of the inaugural UNU-CRIS Summer School.