2020 was a year with unprecedented dynamics in Clingendael’s field of work. A pandemic and associated economic recession, geopolitical power shifts, globalisation under pressure, a turbulent Middle East, cyber threats, climate change, and economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 crisis and instability in countries around Europe leading to increasing migratory pressure on Europe’s external borders. How can the Netherlands and Europe respond to this? What does this require of the European Union as a community of values and interests and as a power factor? We seem to be living at a turning point in history.

All this does not leave citizens untouched, according to our Clingendael “Foreign Affairs Barometer”, which was launched in 2020. The views of the Dutch population on various international developments and foreign policy questions were assessed through a survey among more than 23,000 respondents. When it comes to the security of Europe, it appears that Dutch people are most concerned about irregular migration, the rise of China and climate change.

The powerful international dynamics require an active role from politicians and policy makers as well as from NGOs and the business community, in which they can make choices based on facts, thorough and relevant analyses, and the right knowledge and competences. Informing, stimulating and equipping them to this end is the mission of the Clingendael Academy, Research and the Public Platform.

The relevance of our work is therefore evident. However, this work takes place under increasingly complex circumstances. For example, the politicising and polarising environment affects our work, our employees and our stakeholders. This demands a continuously well-tuned (geo-)political radar. Clingendael is committed to the independence of its employees and their services and products. Double peer review and monitoring & evaluation procedures ensure permanent quality control and improvement.

Amid all these challenges, our rise in the rankings of the TTCSP Global Think Tank Index in 2020 is welcome. Clingendael reached the number 3 position (+7) on the list “Top Think Tanks in Western Europe”. Out of more than 10,000 think tanks worldwide, the Institute maintained its 25th position in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” category. In the category “Non-US Think Tanks”, Clingendael ranks 13th (+1). The ranking is based on peer reviews. The significant improvement is due to the great commitment of our employees in combination with the increased international visibility due to the many English-language webinars and international media appearances in 2020.

Also welcome in 2020 was the first NOW scheme. In the second quarter of 2020, a large part of the turnover was lost. Training and research programmes and events were converted to the new situation by acting quickly and effectively. Steep learning curves were not shunned but taken. In the third quarter, the turnover was back on track. The NOW scheme also made it possible to keep all employees on board. With their rich experience and broad talents, they remain committed to inspire and equip governments, businesses, NGOs and societies with trainings, analyses and public discussions to promote a secure, sustainable and just world.

Monika Sie Dhian Ho, general director, and Peter Haasbroek, financial director

Peter Haasbroek, financial director.

Monika Sie Dhian Ho, general director.