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.


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.

During the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow, we are hosting and implementing a unique event, ‘Nuclear Climate Change: An Interactive Forum Based on the Sustainable Development Goals.’

Human Trafficking

By emphasizing the voices of individuals with lived experience in human trafficking, we:

  • amplify their important messages
  • showcase their multidimensionality
  • destigmatize the discussion around lived experience in human trafficking
  • engage and empower others facing related challenges
  • depict human trafficking in a variety of situational and societal contexts
  • create more effective solutions for dealing with human trafficking and its aftermath

We approach this endeavour with innovation and impact. For example, to mark the 2021 World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we held a unique event and art exhibition highlighting the opinions and artistic expression of those with lived experience: Breaking Free from HumanTrafficking.

We also are collaborating with lived-experience individuals to develop various projects such as freely-available virtual learning modules.


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

Explore the samples below:

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.


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 Director of Development for the International Forum for Understanding and Executive Director of its MESPERO and SDG2030.me projects.

Heather’s international career in human resources, education, cross-culture, and media has spanned five continents and multiple fields. She consults on intercultural communication and organizational development (including digital transformation, leadership development, employee engagement, change management, strategy, and globalization).

You can contact the International Forum Team here:


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

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