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Session Descriptions 2016







Changing Mental Maps: Strategies for an Atlantic in Transition

Historic memories, patterns of interaction, and conceptual short-hands dating back decades remain with us today and shape how we think about each other and our societies. The Atlantic space shelters a tremendous affluence of cultural, intellectual, and economic exchanges, which continue to metamorphose today consistent with an ever growing global interconnectivity. Historical migration patterns and conquest around the Atlantic space have brought traditions and experiences from all regions into a common space. Nowadays, the Atlantic basin is sharing intertwined opportunities and challenges that demand common strategies able to respond and adapt fast and efficient.

In terms of economic development, a global discourse of North and South is still common, but efforts to dismantle this dividing narrative continue to advance. Furthermore, when we talk about international order more broadly, the groupings of the latter 20th century have given way to a more diverse landscape. From the G-20 to the BRICS, from ECOWAS and the African Union to Mercosur and CELAC, the main “building blocks” of international order today have grown considerably. While NATO and the G-7 are still the most prominent players apart from global institutions such as the UN and WTO, the international and regional configurations are unmistakably changing.

With this in mind, changing mental maps to make sure this holistic approach is widely shared requires strategies that promote dialogue. These strategies need to include younger generations from the four quadrants in order to build a sound, collaborative, dynamic, and united space. Strategies could highlight the strong bonds — be it economic, historical, or cultural — between the people, but especially among the young initiative and risk takers, problem solvers, and innovators as they challenge the existing frameworks and carry energizing visions for the Atlantic in transition.

  • What is our conceptualization of the current socio-political outlook across the Atlantic region?
  • What are the impediments and the frictions that slow down the mechanisms of cooperation?
  • What strategies should we develop to help a more cohesive Atlantic-wide community to emerge? How can we foster solid cooperation to respond to complex issues and uncertainty?

Globalization in Flux: Economic Trends and Regional Consequences 

The positive evidence of globalization effects on global economic growth is challenged by those believing that associated costs of economic interdependency outweigh the benefits, at least in the short term. These claims are defended by increasing capital outflows to foreign, and more attractive, economic climates and by marginalizing less educated and low-skilled workers at home. Anti-globalization forces point out that reorganization of production along the lines of comparative advantage, specialization, and economies of scale create more losers than winners. International trade and deep integration of financial markets impact and transform the traditional social and economic relations. Uneven wealth distribution and income inequality remain very high, with 71 percent of the world population holding only 3 percent of global wealth.

The 2008 recession created a fragile macroeconomic environment with distressing rates of unemployment, and not adequate monetary policies to revert to growth and prosperity. Moreover, the volatility that shook markets in 2015 continues to pose serious risks to trade agreements, the financial sector, and emerging markets. The World Bank forecasts a global growth of 2.4 percent for 2016, with both advanced and emerging economies facing depressing conditions. Lower commodity prices, unstable geopolitical and security climates, subdued demand, wavered equity markets, recession, and slower global trade are realities that need carefully designed long-term strategies. These strategies should aim at reducing poverty and inequality gaps, boosting economic opportunities for all, and exploring venues for enhanced sustainability.

With great challenges, also comes great opportunities to contribute in expanding the global wealth, equally, and sustainably through collaboration and mutual understanding of each actor’s constraints and ambitions.

  • What are the regional priorities for the next decade in light of the debates on global governance versus national policies, global trade versus protectionism, global public goods and free riders, workforce development, and economic migration?
  • How to create better and more inclusive economic opportunities for all, reduce income inequality, and ensure growth and prosperity?
  • How to expand the use of technology to innovate, attract FDI, and sustain competitiveness?

Rethinking Development Finance

In the past 50 years technological innovation has led to a fantastic rise in global trade and information globalization. With the global economy transforming in unprecedented ways, rethinking and re-evaluating our methods of development finance has become a critical element. While most of the global poor live in low and middle-income countries, many live in high-income countries. The eurozone crisis and instability in the Middle East show that developed and developing countries alike are confronted with the challenge of generating sustainable, inclusive growth. These crises not only inflict significant costs, there is also a reduction in the volume of available official development assistance for those in greater need. With the mounting number of links among emerging market and developing economies, there is a shift for new, mutually beneficial partnerships between developed and developing countries. Development finance in today’s age will have to reinvigorate itself based on attracting aid from diverse sources, emphasizing domestic resource mobilization, and capitalizing on the potential of the private sector. Moreover many countries in Africa and Latin America are now seeking foreign direct investment (FDIs) that generate jobs and benefit the country rather than aid tied to conditions that do not reflect the country’s reality. But given the global macroeconomic shifts we are experiencing, donors face challenges in reaching the most fragile economies and helping their most vulnerable members in a way that is synergized with today’s economic changes; and investors are worried about the creditworthiness of these potential markets.

With that in mind, the following questions will be discussed during this panel:

  • What are the long term strategies that have worked in the past and will continue to do so? What tools need to be revised in the arena of development finance?
  • What can we learn about the kind of coalitions we can build within communities?
  • How successful are donor funded microfinance institutions at poverty alleviation or reduction of inequality?
  • How has innovation in direct lending and payment technology altered the structural drivers of development finance?
  • How can the private sector or publicly funded mechanisms contribute to development in southern countries?

AD Talk – 2030 Agenda for Humanity- SDGs and the Roadmap for Implementation

There are 125 million people around the world in need of immediate humanitarian assistance today, having their life devastated by extreme poverty and hunger, conflicts and wars, or natural disasters. Over 60 million people have fled their homes and are seeking refuge, protection, and political stability in neighboring countries, marking the beginning of humanitarian crises as witnessed in the Middle East and in some sub-Saharan countries. In light of this rising global scale of needs, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development created a collaborative framework for the international community to tackle humanitarian crises in a proactive manner. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets adopted last year form the blueprint for shared responsibility requiring political, institutional, and financial commitment, partnership, and cooperation. Policymakers around the Atlantic have a significant role to play in this debate, since the Atlantic community includes all types of players needed to successfully implement the development agenda. This includes members from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), including Canada, France, Portugal, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom; non-DAC countries such as Mexico and Iceland; countries from the BRICS grouping, Brazil and South Africa; and members of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. Other members also include low-income African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger, as well as middle-income African countries such as Morocco and Botswana.

  • How do we ensure that agreed collective commitments are transposed into policy and implemented accordingly? What are the mechanisms for capacity building, monitoring, and evaluation?
  • Can businesses shape the development agenda by proposing policies, pledging funds, or backing nonprofit initiatives?
  • How do we create economic opportunities, deliver aid and development assistance to promote sustainable growth, close inequality gaps, improve governance, and maintain peace?

Infrastructure Investment and Workforce Development, Drivers of Global Competitiveness

At the core of an economy’s competitiveness is its capacity to maximize its capital to drive growth and innovation and create more opportunities for its people. To achieve full economic and social potential today, players from both the public and private sectors need to navigate unchartered territories, difficult trade-offs, and future crises that can hinder economic performance and post-shock recovery capabilities. To better mitigate those risks, special attention must be paid to two critical areas: investment in new, climate-friendly and sustainable infrastructure, and leverage of human capital. According to World Economic Forum estimates, we face a global investment gap of $2.7 trillion per year. Infrastructure is an asset class, increasingly attractive to private investors who look for stable long term portfolios, with optimal rates of return and low risk. Governments are therefore under serious pressure to mobilize and bring in investment for infrastructure projects that raise their economic outlook and level of attractiveness. But to be appealing to investors, states need to be performing well economically, have a stable political system, and a well-established regulatory and legislative system. Around the Atlantic basin many countries have yet to meet those indicators. However, infrastructure is not enough on its own to ensure continuous economic development. Leveraging human talent and equipping the workforce with relevant skills for an evolving job market is required to stay globally competitive and adjust to unemployment cycles. Workers need to benefit from a proper blend of knowledge, technological know-how, soft and hard skills, counselling, and support through education and training systems provided by both state and non-state actors.

  • How do we close the investment gap? How can investors tap in markets, long seen as not credit worthy, to help spur development through infrastructure projects?
  • How can countries around the Atlantic region increase their level of attractiveness to foreign investors? What sustainability considerations should be taken into consideration by policymakers and investors alike to ensure that climate stays at the core of these strategies?
  • How do we equip the workforce for future jobs?

AD Talk – A Tale of Two Policies: Paths to Development in Africa

Africa has witnessed a remarkable growth in the last few years that has drawn the attention of the globe. Interestingly, every region, namely Eastern and Western Africa, has its own development story. Looking forward, many specialists predict that the population will increase to nearly 2 billion people by 2050, with a dramatic surge in youth populations. Policymakers see the present moment as a key turning point in the continent’s development path. Some argue in favor of the urgent need for investment in productivity and human capital, while others look at the potential for industrialization of the agricultural sector and diversification of the economy. Many leaders are looking to add value to the agriculture sector, improve the services sector, deepen the financial sector where we find strong macro prudential stability, and trigger and push for intra-Africa trade by improving and increasing manufacturing capacity. Each country has its context. Nonetheless, it seems that the priority is shifting away from raw material toward the people themselves. Although human capital investment has extended lag effects, the medium and long term effects, like reducing inequalities and raising standards of living, can only complement other policies in labor-surplus countries with high fertility.

  • How can the development contexts of Eastern and Western African countries serve as examples for neighboring regions? What can African countries learn from its EME neighbors?
  • What other policies should be considered as a priority? Why?
  • Are there such differences between regions that are slowing down opportunities for intra-regional trade, and development?

Innovative Approaches to Countering Radicalization

Questions about why individuals resorts to violent extremism and embrace extreme political, social and religious views have energized the national security policy and academic communities across the transatlantic.  Yet, policy makers have struggled in their efforts to stem the flow of recruits to violent extremist organizations.

At the same time, terrorist groups have become much more sophisticated since the 9/11 attacks, with greater emphasis on use of social media and community outreach networks to radicalize and recruit.  They have also become more adept at using popular culture and building alliances among similar-minded groups to broaden the target audience and appeal of their ideology.  In this new threat environment, policy officials must evolve and diversify their approaches to curbing the growing epidemic. New and innovative approaches must be developed using the latest technology and scientific insights.  These insights offer the hope of helping policymakers develop de-radicalization programs that can protect younger generations from being recruited by terrorist organizations.

The ongoing debates offer valuable insights on a range of root causes and triggers that contribute to the process of radicalization.  Translating cutting edge research into effective responses requires national and local level engagement and resources for programs.

  • Where are we in the global war on terror? How effective have we been in dismantling foreign and home grown terrorist cells?
  • How can governments better cooperate with the private sector, especially the tech sector, local community leaders and other non-state actors to identify radicalization activities and prevent the effective use of modern communications to indoctrinate individuals to pursuing violent acts?
  • What are the latest approaches in preventing violent extremism, including strategies to discourage the receptivity of violent extremist ideologies?

Atlantic Security: Risks, Fragility and Paths to Resilience

Critical challenges to international security continue to emerge worldwide, putting at risk decades of human development and economic growth, and inflicting a sense of fragility and vulnerability with far-reaching implications. Violent conflicts and asymmetric threats cross borders and transcend nations, while institutional arrangements for crisis prevention and management fall short in mitigating these risks or providing adequate responses. The dissolution of political order in the Middle East and the war in Syria triggered the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, having tremendous destabilizing effects for the entire region and beyond. Terrorist cells and jihadist groups like the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, and Al-Qaeda operate in failed states and have reached eastern North Africa and Europe. They are using modern societies’ communications means to promote extremist and radical ideologies. The persistence of political instability and porosity of borders and transnational crime increase exponentially their share to the overall global instability, demanding multi-stakeholder engagement, cross-cutting solutions, more resources, and smarter policies. The new asymmetric security landscape makes rules of engagement by the international community and local actors blurrier, more importantly it shapes the world’s politics, as well as the economic and cultural context. In parallel, there is a crucial need to support and reinforce stable regions and countries that have demonstrated a certain ability to keep the security balance and willingness to contribute in regional security, serving as barriers to extremism and further instability. Building resilience, at the individual, community, and institutional level is critical, while continuing to place human rights and dignity at the forefront of domestic and international affairs.

  • How can we stabilize the geopolitical environment in the Atlantic space and strengthen socio-institutional capacity to adapt and respond to uncertainty?
  • How can soft and harder cooperation between Atlantic countries be effectively reinforced to ensure stability and countering extremism?
  • How do we close the gap between the increasing asymmetric nature of threats and the more traditional nature of our (re)actions?

Defining the Unthinkable: Europe post Brexit

The Brexit vote in June created an unprecedented crisis, shaking the European project at its core and levying consequences that will last decades and resonate globally. This unthinkable outcome is our new reality. How we arrived at this point is still unclear. It stems from a multitude of factors that accumulated in time and were largely ignored, such as anti-migration sentiments, disenfranchisement of those left behind by globalization forces, and fierce debates over European overruling on sovereign issues. The uncertain exit procedures from the European Union and the status of former member countries strain the Brexit “divorce” even further. The sole tangible detail in the process is the two-year deadline to conclude negotiations after article 50 is invoked. Confusion reigns around the type of agreement parties will manage to broker determining the future relationship of the U.K. with the EU. Furthermore, this vote signals a new trend across Europe, captured by the rise in populist movements. Populist opinions challenge the founding principles of the EU, substituting them with nationalist and protectionist measures, putting at risk the EU’s global role as a relevant and unitary voice.

  • How did we get to a Brexit? What are the risks of Brexit spillover across the continent?
  • What would “hard” and “soft” Brexit look like, and whose interests would they best serve?
  • What is next for the EU in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in March 2017? What kind of structural changes are needed in order to make the EU relevant again to every citizen of the community?
  • What are the Brexit implications for the rest of the world?

AD Talk – Trade Across the Atlantic: U.S.–Morocco, A Model of Good Practice

With international trade agreements being increasingly called into question and assailed as domestically harmful, it is crucial that the benefits garnered from healthy trade relationships not be overlooked. The various trade networks that span the Atlantic provide access to growing, thriving markets. However, the health of these networks relies on an open trading system that reduces harmful protectionist tendencies. A clear illustration of the success of reduced protectionism is the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Morocco. Since the FTA was enacted in 2006, trade between the countries has risen, albeit further efforts are warranted for a balanced distribution since Morocco is still to benefit more.

The state of Delaware, under the leadership of Governor Jack Markell, has been instrumental in bolstering this U.S.–Moroccan partnership. In 2013, the Port of Wilmington signed a five-year agreement with a local Moroccan company making Wilmington a distribution hub for Moroccan citrus products through 2017. The success of sub-national and business-to-business deals like this is contingent upon having relatively free movement of goods and services between countries. This close cooperation can serve as a model of good practices for other countries in the Atlantic region which seek to expand their markets and trade opportunities.

  • What is behind a successful trade relationship?
  • What does it take to become an attractive trade partner?
  • How do you design trade adjustment assistance programs for those who lost their jobs because of foreign trade?
  • How can strong economies ensure that trade agreements benefit both parties?

Religion and Public Policy

The role of religion in the public space is one of the key animating questions on the global scene. It is especially prominent in the global south, and religious dynamics are a leading force shaping internal and regional environments around the Atlantic space. Radicalization and religious intolerance are prominent concerns for publics and leaderships. The question concerns multiple faiths, not least the more charismatic forms of traditional and non-traditional religions. The future of religion in the public space will affect governance, education, civil society, foreign policy, and security, broadly defined — including the security of identity. But most importantly it will affect interpersonal and intercultural relationships, thus the need to promote a dialogue of mutual understanding.

  • Will religions serve as a force for cohesion and the spread of common values? Or will sectarian divides prove a driver of instability and friction?
  • How can religious dynamics be accommodated? What is the future of secularism — in its various forms — in this setting? Can we live in a world where religion and secularism can co-exist with understanding?
  • Are there distinctive “Atlantic” traditions with regard to the place of religion in public policy? Are there useful lessons to be learned from experience around the Atlantic, or elsewhere?
  • Can dialogue be a key in establishing an interreligious understanding?

The Populist Challenge

Politics on all sides of the Atlantic are being reshaped by populist movements of many types and a revolt against elites — and elite projects — that is not necessarily the product of any traditional ideology. Citizens are disillusioned, angry, frustrated, and sense that their leaders have lost touch with them, not without reason. Established parties and politicians are under pressure, while more charismatic leaders are emerging from the fringes. This phenomenon in its various forms is reshaping policy debates at many levels, from the local to the global. Is it a transient development, or a durable trend? How far can it go? Are we witnessing a repeat of the 1930s? Or is this a fundamentally different experience?

  • How can popular pressures for change be accommodated? What do those in power need to do better?
  • How are digital communications and new media contributing to the rise of this new wave of politics?
  • Are there good ideas being put forward by these parties that should be considered?
  • How can our re-engineered world be made to work better for more people?