1- Fighting corruption: can civil society lead the way?
Corruption has consistently been one of the major obstacles to economic, political and social progress on the two sides of the Atlantic, whether in South America or in Africa. The question remains, which actors are best suited to help overcome this challenge: citizens, governments, international organizations or civil society ? Civil society organizations have the potential to influence policymaking, address - and bring awareness to - national and societal issues, and thus, can help fight corruption under the right conditions.
2- Are the BRICS still a meaningful blok in a changing world order?
Following its birth in 2001, the BRICS acronym (for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) quickly outgrew its original designation of a group of investor-friendly countries, into a coalition poised to lead the charge towards a new economic and political world order.
The term seemed at first to capture both the defining changes in the international system and some of the key actors of these changes. Since then, however, the impact of the BRICS – individually and collectively – has fallen short of its proponents’ expectations. Under unfavourable economic and political winds and diverging strategic objectives, the much-touted rise of the BRICS group has given way to solemn declarations of its demise.
The fact remains that BRICS countries account for close to 43% of the world’s population, 25% of its land, 24% of its gross product and 17% of its trade. The group still possesses significant potential as the figurehead for emerging power aspirations and as a formidable front against traditional powers. If the BRICS is to fulfill this potential, the defining issue will be the ability of the five countries to set aside their separate tactical ploys in favour of their common strategic interests.
• Does the ambition of the BRICS to contribute to a new global order still stand?
• Beyond the rhetoric of “Southern solidarity”, is there a sufficient convergence of interests among the BRICS to form a cohesive coalition?
• How do the internal economic and political crises experienced by some of the BRICS countries affect the group?
• Where does the BRICS group figure in the changing foreign policies and geopolitical strategies of its constituent countries?
3- Coastal magnets and regional inequality
In many countries facing the Atlantic, the greatest inequalities are first and foremost spatial: they exist between cities and rural areas, but also between the coastal regions and the "hinterland". For economic and historical reasons related to trade and colonization, coastal cities are more developed than landlocked regions, hence the persistence of widening inequalities across regions.
This session will look at how countries are closing the gap between regions. What would be lessons from countries, ranging from Brazil to Nigeria, to overcome this geographical gap?
4- Sustainable development goals: do they work?
Seeking to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, the United Nations Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals aims to address global challenges ranging from poverty, food security, quality education, gender equality, clean and affordable energy, reducing inequality, climate and environmental degradation by the year 2030. Although progress has been achieved in many areas (e.g. decline in maternal and under-five mortality rates, access to energy, labour productivity) some remain pessimistic about the potential for achieving the SDGs.
• With just 12 years left to the 2030 deadline, where does the Atlantic region stand?
• Are there any new trends in the economic, social and environmental dimensions that the SDGs neglected?
• What are some of the most effective measures that have been taken to meet the SDGs? What made them effective?
• Why is it important that countries integrate the SDGs and targets into their national plans?
5- Big Data in Africa
Considered as the new oil of the 21st century, big data can play a major role in transforming the vast amounts of available data collected every day into actionable information useful to farmers, business owners, policy makers, and international stakeholders seeking to invest in Africa. Its efficient exploitation can also be an essential element to gain comparative advantage, unlock value and facilitate fast and effective decision-making. This session will discuss how data can drive innovative solutions in the African continent.
• How can big data help attract and sustain investment in Africa?
• Can big data help solve Africa’s big issues, such as climate change or national security?
6- The global infrastructure gap
Adequate infrastructure provision is a key prerequisite to achieve the objectives of economic growth and trade liberalization. Global infrastructures are however struggling to meet demand. The world needs to invest nearly 3.3 trillion US dollars in economic infrastructure annually through 2030 in order to keep pace with projected growth. This issue particularly affects developing economies around the Atlantic basin. Indeed, the increasing gap in infrastructure in those economies highlights the urgency to upgrade infrastructure, particularly in the energy and transport sectors, support the expanding economies and foster regional integration. This session will tackle the following questions:
• What is the extent of the infrastructure gap in the Atlantic basin? Which sectors are suffering the most?
• How can we assess the effectiveness of infrastructure (roads, energy, water…) delivery systems?
• What are solutions to unlock the financing needed for infrastructure development?
7- The African Union reform and peacekeeping in Africa
Some 17 years into its journey, the African Union boasts an uneven track record. Guiding the continent through the increasingly troubled international waters and the challenging African scene lies beyond the reach of the African Union in its current form. Stabilizing Africa’s security environment also eludes the Union’s peacekeeping capabilities. The African Union’s reforms package aims to reanimate the continental organization’s ability to discharge its economic, political, and peacekeeping mandates and to engage constructively with the international community.
• Two years after Paul Kagame proposed his ‘Imperative to Strengthen our Union’, are the African Union reforms still on track?
• How will the African Union’s interaction with the international community develop in light of its pursuit of financial independence?
• Are the proposed changes to the conflict management capabilities of the African Union sufficient? What will it take to stabilize the African security environment, the most volatile in the world?
8- Are humanitarian crises getting worse?
The multiplication of humanitarian crises, mainly because of deadly conflicts or the alarming impact of climate change, poses the problem of the adequacy of responses proposed by the international community to the victims of these crises and its ability to sustain these effort in different regions of the world.
Whether mediatized or obscured, these crises are causing suffering of thousands of human beings whose needs were valued at $ 22.5 billion.
The lack of prospects for resolving persistent conflicts with high human costs, particularly in Africa, and the doubt over compliance with the commitments made at the Paris Conference (COP 21), may perpetuate humanitarian crises.
Beyond management and rapid response to urgent needs of vulnerable populations, a global answer to current crises requires a combination of preventive diplomacy, development assistance and track-two meditation efforts.
• Persistent humanitarian crises are expected to worsen. How can the international community ensure that humanitarian needs are met?
• The path out of fragility is long. Can development partners help fragile states to leapfrog decades of crisis and war on a path to peaceful and inclusive institutions?
9- Assessment of deradicalization programs in Africa: what next?
It has become clear over the last two decades that security approaches in all forms - whether those that adopt counter-violence to eliminate terrorism or those that pursue more sophisticated proactive approaches based on caution, expectation, and tracking and then bringing violent extremists to justice - are not sufficiently efficient to avoid the resilience of jihadism. States are alerted by an increase of radicalization and recruitment of new candidates in prisons, and the recurrence of recidivism among former jihadists. To overcome the ineffectiveness of measures that deprive inmates of liberty in order to make them disengage and reject their previous radical beliefs, several countries have adopted deradicalization, disengagement or rehabilitation programs to ensure the proper reinsertion of inmates into society once they regain their freedom. Their implementation allowed the identification of some successful stories, while highlighting some of their failures – either due to their incompatibility or because they were not adapted to the new demography of newly imprisoned extremists (mostly affiliated to Daech). This session will discuss how countries should provide and validate scientific assessment tools of these different deradicalization programs by providing a focus on the African experience.
• Is it really possible to bring violent extremists to change and/or disengage?
• If yes, what is an efficient measure, policy, instrument to do so?
• What are the necessary tools to assess the outcomes of these programs?
10- Les intérêts particuliers et le bien public (in french)
L’instinct grégaire accule l’humanité à se rassembler et à ériger « le bien public » en tant que principe fondateur de nos sociétés. Alors que l’homme est depuis toujours animé par le désir de s’accomplir en tant qu’individu, la prévalence du bien public est contestée par un système économique orienté vers la satisfaction des intérêts particuliers. C’est ainsi que la communauté des Etats cherche à dépasser les logiques manichéennes séparant l’ensemble du particulier et à réconcilier notre époque avec l’égoïsme inhérent de l’homme et sa quête de prospérité collective.
• L’intérêt général est-il la somme des intérêts particuliers ?
• Faut-il ériger le bien public au-dessus des intérêts particuliers ?
• Y a-t-il une utilité sociale dans l’individualisme ?
• A l’heure du changement climatique et des grands changements géopolitiques, faut-il privilégier un bien public mondial ?