Over 25 years ago, leading members of the Order concluded that corruption and inadequate governance were barriers to development and reducing the impact of foreign aid in many ‘third world’ countries; and also significantly reducing the benefits that local populations were receiving from the exploitation of natural resources. The Order's International Governance Initiative was established to address these and related issues such as reducing fraud and promoting responsible and ethical practices in business and Government. It has been headed since its formation by Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas who had been Bailiff of the Grand Priory of England and Wales and who was made Bailiff Emeritus and leader of the new initiative. His activities have now involved some 40 countries, with a particular focus on BRIC countries, areas where leprosy is still prevalent, such as India and West Africa, or places riven with conflict and inter-communal issues such as the Middle East.
In 2014 and 2015 Prof. Coulson-Thomas travelled to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Brasil, France (Paris), Dubai, India (Bengaluru, Delhi, Karnatika, Kerala, Mumbai), Malaysia, Turkey (Istanbul), Singapore and Sri Lanka to visit projects and speak on issues concerning directors, boards and governance. He spoke at eight separate events in Dubai, including a global convention and world congress on leadership. Ten presentations or speeches in India included contributions to international conferences on social responsibility, environment management, total quality and leadership. Groups he has spoken to include senior UK Government officials, Senators and national committee chairs and vice-chairs from Nigeria with a particular interest in reducing fraud and corruption. Publications during the period include theme papers for eight international conventions, conferences, congresses or summits, and six edited book chapters, including contributions putting the case for a greater focus of corporate social responsibility effort on leprosy and leprosy-sufferers.
Prof. Coulson-Thomas speaking at the World Congress on Environment Management in July 2015. He began with a quotation from Pope Francis about our planet "beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth."
Receiving a presentation from Lt Gen J.S. Ahluwalia PVSM. the President
of Institute of Directors, India.
On the same visit Prof. Coulson-Thomas gave a talk at Amity University, his visit being hosted by the chairman of the group's hospitals and middle eastern activities.