What are the Atlantic Dialogues?
Since its inception in 2012, the Atlantic Dialogues (AD) conference has become a well-established annual meeting point taking place in Marrakesh, bringing together around 350 high-level senior officials, business leaders, academics, opinion shapers and civil society actors. Morocco has been host to these gatherings given its location and close relations to all countries bordering the Atlantic. Initially created in a dual effort between the Policy Center for the New South and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the event encourages a lively and informal exchange of views between young professionals and today’s leaders.
Organized by the Policy Center for the New South since 2017, AD offers an environment that facilitates concrete discussions. Sessions are designed to promote frank, interactive, and informal debate through a mix of plenary panels, smaller breakout sessions, and keynote addresses. The event fosters a network of individuals instilled with a new “mental map” of Atlantic issues, partnerships, and potential. This is achieved through skillfully moderated discussions between the audience and expert discussants.
Although the South Atlantic has received little attention in dominant discourse due to the linguistic areas inherited from the colonial era and the geopolitical organization established in the twentieth century, it nevertheless presents a complex reality. The Policy Center for the New South believes that the Southern Atlantic is crucial for Africa’s future, and seeks to highlight the continent’s long-standing history of exchange with Europe and the Americas. In this regard, the Atlantic Dialogues have been designed to rethink mental maps of the Atlantic in economic, political and security terms.
The Atlantic is thus central to the Policy Center for the New South’s analytical production and activities, with the organization of large international events such as the Atlantic Strategy Groups in Brazil, Senegal and Portugal, and through many Atlantic-related papers and books. The publication “Atlantic Currents”, an annual report presented on the first day of each AD, provides deeper insights into the dynamics at stake in transatlantic relations.
What are we trying to achieve?
This forum seeks to unleash a new sphere of international debate on critical issues facing the Atlantic community. In 2018, the seventh edition of AD was held under the theme « Atlantic Dynamics: Overcoming the Choke Points ». It acknowledged 50 young emerging leaders and featured 340 participants from more than 70 different nationalities.
Conversing on equal terms
This annual forum seeks to provoke new conversation on Atlantic challenges by making the voices and views of the South better heard. Senior leaders and young professionals convene from the entire African coastline, Latin America, North America and Europe to exchange on equal terms. One of AD plenary sessions entitled: « Africa tells its own narrative», went beyond a simple statement or a manifesto. It set the basis for a strong commitment and spearheaded concrete proposals, in line with the vision that drives the Moroccan think tank, the Policy Center for the New South.
Making room for young professionals
Asserting an Atlantic vision and filling in the generational and perception gaps can only be reinforced when the next generation of leaders are given a seat at the table, to challenge the established perspectives and forward the conversations. To this end, the Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leaders (ADEL) program, composed of an alumni community of more than 300 young leaders from 30 different nationalities, fosters a unique network across generations, continents and cultures.
The program seeks to bring together between 40 and 50 rising leaders yearly, aged 23 to 35, who have displayed leadership capabilities, but who also have a strong sense of commitment to social and economic issues facing their communities. The Emerging Leaders are chosen yearly out of a pool of over 1000 applicants, not only for their outstanding achievements, but also for their personality and will to drive transformational change across their sectors.
After five successful editions, the Policy Center for the New South launched in 2017 an Advisory Board, looking forward to a greater participation in the Atlantic Dialogues from all stakeholders. Furthermore, the think tank and its board plan to bring AD to other countries bordering the Atlantic.