Dialogue and Impact

Based in Cambridge, the International Forum for Understanding promotes constructive dialogue and impactful solutions for urgent contemporary challenges such as:

  • nuclear, biological, chemical, and strategic conventional weapons (NBC and SCW)
  • disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation
  • migration and refugee issues
  • human trafficking and modern slavery
  • rule of law
  • women, peace and security
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • empowerment in the context of age, gender, and nationality

Through facilitating discussion among opinion leaders, decision-makers and an innovative range of actors, the International Forum for Understanding focuses on achieving actionable results informed by diverse, intergenerational perspectives.

To mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the International Forum for Understanding initiated and is implementing: Breaking Free from Human Trafficking: An Interactive Event and Exhibition for 2021


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the core of our activities. And we firmly believe that implementation is the key to success.

While addressing shared challenges, the interconnected SDGs define: “A blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030”.

In turn, the International Forum for Understanding engages globally to facilitate cross-sectional solutions.

We realize that gender and race are linked to education and human rights, poverty and disarmament, environmental degradation and climate change…

Understanding the cross-cutting nature of contemporary issues, we gather unique voices to create effective and sustainable results.


Our approach to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is unique and comprehensive.

We support existing structures while facilitating dialogue on new initiatives; we understand historical context while addressing the impact of disruptive technologies on today’s nuclear stability.

Confidence-building measures to enhance trust and avert hostilities are at our core; we promote education, communication, transparency, verification – and impactful connections to the SDGs.

Executive Director Les Simm has worked on nuclear issues with the UN, international organisations, academic institutions and the Norwegian Nobel Institute.


The International Forum for Understanding serves as a centralized source for a variety of other projects which we initiate, develop and implement.

Explore the sample below:

Breaking Free from Human Trafficking
Marking the World Day against Trafficking in Persons is a unique initiative is being held on July 30, 2021 in Vienna, Austria and live-streamed globally. While the event features a panel, interactive discussions and performances, the corresponding exhibition highlights the opinions and artistic expression of those with lived experience in human trafficking.

Every month, we gather an unexpected constellation of players focused on achieving actionable results in specific, urgent areas connected to the Sustainable Development Goals.

MESPERO: Impact for Resilience
We combine leading-edge business consulting with creating multi-stakeholder partnerships to mobilize knowledge and resources for building mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) capacity in humanitarian settings.

We also showcase projects from others:

Women, Peace and Security
Betsy Kawamura, founder of Women4NonViolence, is interviewed by Dr. Henrik Syse of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on topics such as the Battle of Okinawa, North Korean refugee women, and the Status of Force Agreement SOFA.

Women, Peace and Security

Understanding the critical importance of Women, Peace and Security in North Asia (Okinawa, Japan and the Korean Peninsula), the International Forum for Understanding is pleased to share this compelling interview of Betsy Kawamura, founder of Women4NonViolence. Conducted by Dr. Henrik Syse of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the interview covers topics such as the Battle of Okinawa, North Korean refugee women, and the Status of Force Agreement SOFA.

Mental Health

Since the International Forum for Understanding understands the critical role of mental health and wellbeing in achieving the SDGs, we support MESPERO: an innovative approach to creating tools for mental health and psychosocial self-care for individuals in low-resource and conflict areas.

MESPERO engages local populations to adapt their lessons learned from lived experience into scalable, multimedia self-care solutions.

The aim is to promote resilience and build capacity by increasing mental-health literacy, closing treatment gaps, reducing stigmatisation and mitigating trauma.

SDG 2030

Major challenges in reaching the 2030 Agenda include lack of: relevant data, public awareness, youth engagement, and integrated approach.

SDG 2030 provides an innovative solution. Each month, we will

  • identify a timely SDG area and engage recognized leaders from various sectors
  • create related mobile/digital tools and scale them via social media and other channels
  • conduct research and interviews relevant for the featured SDG

And some months, we will hold global online events.

Emphasis is on promoting implementation by encouraging positive and practical activities with measurable results.

Led by Heather Wokusch, SDG 2030 launched on March 8th 2021 in honor of International Women’s Day.


Les Simm founded the International Forum for Understanding and serves as its Executive Director.

Les works in the business sector, with governments, the UN, INGO’s and other entities in areas ranging from security risk management and business resilience to humanitarian operations and disaster relief. He has expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and verification, security sector reform and countering transnational organised crime.

Having trained as a psychiatric nurse in his early career, Les has long-term interest in mental health and wellbeing.

Les is a passionate supporter of the SDGs with a particular focus on project implementation and making a demonstrable and direct impact on people’s lives.

Heather Wokusch serves as Deputy Director for the International Forum for Understanding and Executive Director of its MESPERO and SDG2030.me projects.

Please send us a message via the web form below.


International Forum for Understanding
Wellington House, East Road
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
England CB1 1BH

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