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The Ditchley Foundation

The Ditchley Foundation brings together global doers and thinkers to develop big ideas on tough problems, and the networks to implement them. Our unique strength is our ability to convene and sustain the frank conversations that are needed to address the complex problems that face us.

Our blend of intellectual rigour, informality and discretion, in a stunning and historic setting, promotes fresh thinking and better decision-making. We create the conditions for trust, understanding and, as a result, hope.

We work for stability, sustainable development and human dignity, aiming to renew the political West and its place in a fast-evolving world. We turn ideas into action to shape our future. This is needed now more than ever. The challenges the world faces are global and interconnected but international governance is increasingly fractured. At almost no time since the end of the Second World War has the need for such work been greater.

By gathering together people in power – in government, technology, the private sector, science, arts and the media – Ditchley helps governments, companies and multilateral organisations make progress on the most difficult issues facing us.

By brokering new connections and sustaining them, Ditchley helps people develop lasting relationships with others they would not meet otherwise in order to edge towards solutions on complex dilemmas and systems that cut across silos of expertise.

The Ditchley Foundation's conferences are held at Ditchley Park, an eighteenth-century country house in its own grounds just north of Oxford. The foundation is a privately-funded charity established in 1958 with the original aim of promoting transatlantic understanding. Since then, Ditchley conferences have expanded to include the concerns and participation of nations across the globe. The combined atmosphere of informality, trust and expertise makes Ditchley a unique venue to address complex issues facing the world today.

Between 35 and 40 participants attend Ditchley conferences by invitation. The proceedings are informal and off-the-record, under the Ditchley Rule, with emphasis placed on frank debate and oral dialogue rather than on set-piece speeches and presentations. Ditchley's impact comes from the relevance of its programme to government and other professional policy-making and from contacts made, understanding deepened, fresh insights gained and new ideas or lines of thought established.

Conferences are conducted in English, with no facilities for interpreters, and are normally held over three days, running from 4pm on a Thursday until lunchtime on a Saturday. (On rare occasions, a conference may run from Friday to Sunday.) All participants are guests of the foundation while they are at Ditchley, but – with rare exceptions – are asked to arrange and pay for their own travel. Detailed travel advice is available here.

Two plenary sessions are held on Thursday afternoon before dinner. On Friday, the conference divides into three working groups to consider in greater detail different aspects of the main topic of the conference. Brief reports of each group's findings are presented for discussion by all the participants on Saturday morning, followed by a final plenary session at which informal conclusions are drawn.

Although the programme of discussion is intense, there is time for private conversation and relaxation in the warmth and beauty of Ditchley. There are no formal meetings after dinner and there is a break in the afternoon on the Friday, which participants may use to explore Oxford or one of the neighbouring historic houses, or simply to enjoy Ditchley and its beautiful grounds.

Director's Note
After the conference, the Director issues a summary of the discussion: no views are attributed to individual participants and it does not commit participants to any conclusions. Participants are free to circulate this, and draw on the proceedings in any other way, provided that they respect the Ditchley Rule and do not identify the proponents of any particular opinion or attribute any comment to the person who made it.

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