Meridian International

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Background

Meridian International is an organisation based in Washington D.C. situated between the White House and Embassy Row.1 It describes itself as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit diplomacy center that connects leaders through culture and collaboration to drive solutions for global challenges”.2

Meridian states its mission is to “strengthen engagement between the United States and the world through diplomacy, leadership and culture to solve shared global challenges”. Their website uses the following infographic to outline their operational approach.

Image 1: Meridian’s Operational Approach.2

Meridian’s programs are categorised into four different areas:3

  • Leadership Exchanges – building expertise and relationships
  • Cultural Diplomacy – bridging communities and countries
  • Convening – dialogue and collaboration
  • Training – preparing leaders for success in a global context

Partners

“Meridian partners with the public, private and diplomatic sectors to develop exchange, training, culture and convening programs that help leaders address global challenges and opportunities”.

The website lists numerous partner organisations4 under key areas including:2

  • United States Government
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Diplomatic Community
  • Multi-National Corporations
  • NGOs

Meridian Corporate Council

As described on the website, the Meridian Corporate Council seeks to provide a “platform for exchange, dialogue and networking on key global issues among diplomatic, public, private and non-profit sector leaders.”5

The council is composed by a variety of corporations, including Chevron, The Coca Cola Company, Merck, Pfizer, Google, and Facebook. The Chairman’s Circle is composed by five corporations among which is Philip Morris International.5 It organises events where corporations can network and interact with government officials and key stakeholders.

For more information on how the tobacco industry partners with third party organisations to facilitate indirect lobbying of government officials, go to Lobbying Decision Makers.

Illicit Economies

Meridian has partnered with PMI Impact over the course of 2020 to deliver a “six-part convening series” to raise awareness of illicit economies. A fact sheet created by Meridian to summarise the program states PMI Impact, PMI’s global grant initiative, is the funding sponsor.6

The description of the program states:7

  • “Sessions will bring together 25-30 leaders and cross-section of experts, decisionmakers, and influencers from the U.S. government, multinational institutions, foreign diplomatic corps, private sector, think tank community and civil society to examine areas of illicit economic activity, and work towards viable multisectoral solutions.”

The themes and dates of the series are as follows:6

  • Session 1: Corruption and Impunity, 5 March 2020
  • Session 2: Crime and Environment, 3 April 2020
  • Session 3: Violence and Instability, 20 May 2020
  • Session 4: Illicit Trade and Financial Flows, 14 July 2020
  • Session 5: Human Mobility and Exploitation, 10 September 2020
  • Session 6: Cybercrime, 5 November 2020
  • Working Group Meeting: “The event will conclude with a December working group meeting to discuss recommendations and next steps”, 15 December 2020

The Future of Agritech

In October 2019, Meridian convened agricultural attachés, and diplomats to meet and discuss agricultural innovations with representatives from the private sector, sponsored by Philip Morris International. This event was part of their monthly program called Diplocraft, which is described in Meridian’s website as “a monthly series of programs for diplomats to hear from and interact with organisations and individuals on the front lines of the political, social, security and economic issues in Washington and beyond. This series includes policy deep dives, peer networking opportunities and navigating Washington seminars.”8

The event included participants from the United States Department of Agriculture, USAID, representatives from the Ministry of Economic & Trade Affairs of Israel, among others. The topics discussed included “Business and Trade, Energy and the Environment, Entrepreneurship, Food Security, Science and Technology”.8 The website describes the partnership with PMI for this particular event, based “in moving towards a smoke-free future, PMI is taking steps to transform its value chain, re-skilling farmers and other employees, sourcing raw materials in a sustainable manner and reducing their environmental footprint”.8 The event took place at PMI´s offices in Washington D.C, as the following picture shows.

Image 2: Diplocraft event discussions taking place in PMI’s Washington offices.8

For more information on Tobacco Farming and tobacco industry tactics around agriculture, go to Tobacco Farming and Greenwashing.

Global Summit

According to their website the Meridian Global Leadership Summit is “the leading convening of diplomatic, business and policy leaders in a neutral, nonpartisan forum to exchange ideas and collaborate on solutions to today’s most pressing global challenges and opportunities.”

On 23 October 2020, the Meridian Summit and Diplomacy Dinner took place virtually and focused on “The Rise of Global Health Diplomacy”.9

The website states the Summit would include keynotes from leaders including the WHO Assistant Director-General.10

Tobacco Tactics Resources

References

  1. Meridian, Our Campus, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  2. abcMeridian, About Us, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  3. Meridian, Our Work, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  4. Meridian, Partners, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  5. abMeridian, Meridian Corporate Council, undated, accessed October 2020
  6. abMeridian, Fact Sheet, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  7. Meridian, International Dialogues to Fight Illicit Economies, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  8. abcdMeridian, Agricultural Attaches Assess Advanced Agritech, Meridian website, October 2019, accessed October 2020
  9. Meridian, Meridian Global Leadership Summit, Meridian website, undated, accessed October 2020
  10. Meridian, Media Advisory: Virtual Meridian Summit on Global Health Diplomacy This Friday October 23, Meridian news, 19 October 2020, accessed October 2020