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  1. How is Fintech Changing the Markets?

Unknown until a few years ago, the Fintech is now attracting a very strong interest. Despite high barriers to entry, the sectors of finance, banking and insurance have seen the emergence of new players, who are imposing new uses thanks to digital tools. Global investments in Fintech, which amounted to $930 million in 2008, exceeded $50 billion in 2017. The current consensus is that this trend will keep on soaring.

  • How are Fintechs transforming the financial services market? How can we cope with this transformation?

  • How can we take advantage of these transformations and the many innovations they bring?
     

  1. Circular Economy: Making Wealth from Waste

The current paradigm of linear economic model could be coming to an end and its place will be taken by the circular economy. Continued wealth generation requires a new industrial model that is less dependent on primary energy and materials inputs, and ultimately able to regenerate natural capital. In this sense, a circular economy aims to eliminate the concept of waste and acknowledges that everything has value. It represents a new way of looking at the relationships between markets, customers and natural resources. Products are designed and optimized for a cycle of disassembly and reuse rather than disposal. Transitioning to the circular economy represents therefore a huge opportunity to adopt more resource-efficient approaches to value creation. It has significant potential for innovation, job creation and economic growth. This breakout dinner will discuss the stakes and benefits of the circular economy and learn how countries of the Atlantic Basin can implement it.

  • Why is a circular economy important? And why should countries of the Atlantic basin act now?

  • Can developing countries of the Atlantic make this shift without compromising their efforts to achieve economic and social development?

  • How will the transition to a circular economy reduce costs and create jobs?

  • What measures are foreseen at the production stage and on waste management? And how can countries promote reparability of products and fight planned obsolescence?
     

  1. Youth, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Young people, with the ideas and entrepreneurship they bring can and will play a key role in meeting the world’s multiple challenges. private government policy, offer alternatives to the traditional schemes and strategies from which the current labor market was emerging, with all the ills revolving around it.

The challenge is now global, while most economies are unable to create enough jobs to meet socially expressed demand. However, it is to varying degrees. Some countries already have favorable conditions. Paradoxically, it is where the socio-economic integration of young people is a major concern that little is done when it comes to investing in people and these ideas, and surprisingly little when it comes to bringing creative ideas to markets.

  • Taking international experiences as a starting point, what are the formulas and conditions for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship?

  • How to assess the state of these conditions in Africa, and what actions can be taken to establish a favorable climate?

  • What role can non-state actors like NGOs play to bridge the gap between the generation of ideas and their execution?
     

  1. Asian Powers in the South

Having been deeply affected by colonialism, Asia, like Africa, has managed to construct a new history with its several ethnicities and historical legacies. With some populations still facing poverty, the continent has seen its economic and strategic relevance grow. Many of these countries have grown through periods of economic and political turmoil. Nevertheless, profound transformation and democratic reforms have consolidated stability. Economic performance has been strong despite challenges related to nuclear threats and accidents, terrorism, refugees, environmental degradation, food and water insecurity and natural disasters. Asia has proven to be resilient despite these challenges and shown itself capable of rebuilding partnerships to mobilize finance, harness knowledge, and recover.

Rivalries between China, India and Japan have not impeded the region to advance economically and lift millions of people out of poverty. The Japanese economic model, for instance, helped transform the economy of the entire region, particularly those known as the Asian Tigers. China's economic and political influence is felt all over the continent, with Chinese economic growth driving much of the rest of the region’s. India, the continent's largest democracy, retains the promise of improvement in living conditions and poverty reduction of a huge population.

  • How could the Asian economic models be adapted in less successful regions to improve global economic growth and development?

  • Terrorism is a reality in some Asian countries. How have Asian countries addressed this issue to avoid disruptions in its economic and political development?

  • Is Western democracy the political framework for economic development or do Asian countries present alternative models to guarantee the welfare of the citizenry?

  • How have Asian powers used soft and hard power to expand their influence outside the region?

  • In what ways have Asian countries provided disruptive models to address issues like economic growth, development, democracy and nation-building? How have they addressed the negatives deriving from globalization, such as rising unemployment and income inequality?

  • How will the Asian Century be different from the so-called American Century? What to expect from the road ahead?
     

  1. The Digital Revolution in Government

Economies, governments and societies across the globe are going digital. Almost half of the world’s population is now connected to the Internet, up from only 4% in 1995. Digital transformation is challenging almost every aspect of our lives and professions – including how governments are using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to achieve policy goals. This session will examine the immense opportunities as well as the challenges that digital transformation represents for countries in the Atlantic region, while exploring their implications for both citizens and governments.

  • Why is e-government important?

  • How can local, regional and national levels of government use digital technologies to improve the efficiency of public services and better respond to citizens’ expectations brought about by the digital transformation?

  • What are some success stories in modernization of the public sector in the South?
     

  1. Financing Public Services

With the rapid growth of urbanization, many governments in Africa and the Atlantic are facing an increased demand for more and better public services. This demand is coupled with an inability to raise enough revenues (through taxes, loans, user fees, etc.) in order to finance them. Indeed, African countries for example are struggling with tax collection; their average tax-to-GDP is at 18.2% which is lower than Latin American and Caribbean countries (22.7%) and OECD countries (34.3%). The problems caused by inadequate resources are compounded by governance weaknesses and lack of transparency.

  • What type of measures would enable countries of the global south to improve tax collection and increase non-tax revenues?

  • Can governments use more effectively financing sources other than taxes to provide public services?

  • What steps can be taken to run public services more efficiently? Can governments rely more on private sector provision?

  • What role can NGOs and the private sector play in financing and providing public services? Would any such involvement be legitimate?
     

  1. The South in Global Value Chains

The fragmentation of production system across the world has opened up major opportunities for developing economies, some of whom are under increased competitive pressure in the sector. Some developing countries have succeeded in drawing foreign investors and have become part of the global supply chain, while others failed to do so, or became stuck as providers of raw materials or low value added components.

  • Policymakers tend to focus on the manufacturing supply chain. What role for services in the trade and production policies?

  • African nations such as Morocco and Ethiopia, are emerging as new manufacturing hubs in the continent. What set of policies have proven to be effective in promoting the manufacturing sector?

  • How can economies prevent becoming stuck in the low value added activities within the GVC?

  • Can the South leverage on itself to develop competitive regional value chains?

  • The rising trade war between China and USA may contributed to worldwide shift of global value chains. How southern economies can respond and what are the risks and the opportunities associated with this disruption?
     

  1. Bolsonaro: 1 Year After

Elected as the anti-establishment candidate, Jair Bolsonaro (also known as the “South American Trump”) was a “low clergy” House Representative for more than 25 years. He won significant support of the population to replace more than 30 years of center-left governments in Brazil, as well as fight the deep-rooted corruption the country faced.

With a low-cost campaign, use of social media, and a right-wing discourse, despite many controversial remarks that have negatively affected his image, Bolsonaro has pursued an agenda to re-establish patriotism and nationalism as hallmarks of his administration. As time goes by, some of his promises of a new political environment in Brazil are slowly fading away, which could eventually lead to the disillusionment of the population, which has suffered from the most prolonged economic recession ever.

  • Will Bolsonaro be able to implement his economic agenda of liberalization and improve the competitiveness of Brazil in the international stage?

  • Will the policies implemented thus far at the political and economic levels allow Brazil to recover its investment-grade and restore confidence from the global community?

  • Despite his controversial past and reputation, what factors have led to the rise of Bolsonaro, and how will these factors affect the next electoral cycles?

  • Is Bolsonaro a nationalist, a populist or just another “caudillo” in the lead of a Latin American country? How can Bolsonaro improve his image internationally?

  • Should the Argentina paradigm, with the return of the previous establishment to power, be a matter of concern for the Bolsonaro government? In what way?

  • What will Brazil stand for internationally? How will the country realign itself as tectonic shifts occur in the international arena?
     

  1. Cultural Diplomacy

As a medium for publicizing the identity and the civilizational specificities of a nation and contributing to mutual understanding, cultural diplomacy occupies a prominent place in the countries’ foreign policy. Cultural diplomacy – considered more than an instrument for promoting exchanges between the countries’ elites – has become an essential component of the states’ soft power and a catalyst for their economic and commercial policies.

While the digital revolution has allowed unprecedented growth in the dissemination of national culture in its traditional aspects, a genuine cultural policy driven by cultural actors and supported by the Government remains the only way to give culture the place it deserves in society and to protect it internally. Established and rising powers such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France or China, carry out their cultural diplomacy through institutions such as Fulbright, Goethe, the French Alliance, the British cultural centers and the Confucius centers.

The weakness of cultural diplomacy of many developing countries reflects a skepticism among policymakers regarding the benefit/cost of such efforts, and a propensity to let individual intellectuals, artists and other actors do the job for them.

Yet, in addition to spreading national culture and extending influence, cultural diplomacy has demonstrated its ability to promote rapprochement, and fostering the coexistence and development of friendly relations between States.

  • What is the impact of new information and communication technologies on cultural diplomacy and how should it be directed to narrow down the divide between the North and the South in this area?

  • Should priority be given to major events with large budgets or should targeted actions towards civil society be favored?

  • Finally, should we opt for strengthening or limiting the role of the State in the development of this diplomacy?
     

  1. Political Transition and Violence

As the end of the decade approaches, numerous peoples are still dealing with the ramifications of uprisings calling for regime change. Across the Atlantic, groups of people are growing dissatisfied with their governments and are mobilizing in order to bring about structural changes. However, this call for democracy has often led to serious upheavals and its success has been questioned. According to the United States Institute of Peace, half of all peace agreements unravel after five years whilst 25% of elections, usually a result of such agreements, are violent. In turn, these violent political transitions have a negative impact on the quality of the emerging democracies. This session will explore the different strategies that can be put in place in order to prevent violent conflicts and ensure peaceful and sustainable political transitions.

  • How can new regimes re-establish public confidence in political institutions in the aftermath of violent struggles?

  • What is the role of the military during the transition, especially in the absence of well-organized political forces? What does this entail for the process of democratization?

  • How should transitional justice be addressed in order to ensure both accountability and reconciliation?

  • What are the implications — security, political, economic etc.— of violent political transitions on the rest of the region? What is the role, if any, of the international community in these processes?
     

  1. The Future of the European Union

The European construction is unique in the world thanks to the intensity of cooperation between its members. It was born after the Second World War with a deep desire for peace in Europe, coupled with a common commitment to multilateralism in the world. Nevertheless, its vocation – which for a long time remained mainly economic – and its Member states retain a broad political sovereignty.

Today, multilateralism is being undermined, while unilateral action or bilateral deals have gained prominence, and great power rivalry limits global cooperation in many fields. This situation threatens the interests and influence of the European Union, which is not naturally inclined to play the big power game. Indeed, some EU members go as far as to reject any logic of power.

  • How can the European Union react?

  • Should it align its behavior with that of the United States and China and try to become a power like the others?

  • Should it favor the defense of multilateralism, at the risk of sacrificing its own interests?

  • Between these two paths, can the EU acquire a stronger political content by forging European tools in terms of foreign policy and security, while focusing on preserving a part of the achievements of multilateralism at the global level?

  • What tools does the European Union need as a priority? Who are the allies who can help it defend multilateralism?