The Trust's Mission and History

The Trust's Mission and History

The 21st Century Trust brings together policy-makers, thought leaders, people from across government, civil society and the private sector, to develop their thinking on global issues with a view to shaping a better 21st century. Since 2009 the Trust has worked in close partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar in undertaking its work internationally, and it also runs a series of events in London and at Klingenthal, near Strasbourg, in association with Fondation Goethe.

The Trust was founded in 1986 by Sir David Wills, who also founded the Ditchley Foundation. Having fought in the Second World War, Sir David’s original vision was to forge closer links among free societies to secure a safer, flourishing world, with the Trust initially focusing on bringing together emerging leaders aged under 40, who were invited to become Fellows of the 21st Century Trust. Over the first 20 years of its existence, a network of some 1200 Fellows was created, from over 100 countries worldwide.

In 2009 the trustees, led by Lord Patten of Barnes as Chair, took the view that the Trust would need to form a close alliance with another global organization in order to sustain its mission. It therefore formed a mutually supportive alliance with Salzburg Global Seminar, many of the Trust’s Fellows becoming connected with the Salzburg Global Fellowship also established at that time.  Since then the Trust has taken a lead in London events, including the Palliser Lecture series, named in memory of Sir Michael Palliser, the distinguished diplomat and supporter of international collaboration, a founding trustee of the Trust and also Vice-Chair of Salzburg Global. There has also been a series of conferences hosted by Fondation Goethe at Château Klingenthal near Strasbourg, with a particular focus recently on the future of liberal democracy in a world of new technologies.