Astana International Forum as New Platform for International Discussions

ASTANA — On June 8-9, the capital of Kazakhstan hosted the Astana International Forum (AIF), themed Overcoming Challenges through Dialogue: Towards Cooperation, Development and Progress, turning into a new global platform bringing together experts, business leaders and governments from East and West, Global North and South to discuss practical solutions to global foreign policy, climate and economic challenges. 

Photo credit: AIF press service.

A hallmark of the AIF stands out as a renewed culture of multilateralism, giving all countries an equal voice, emphasizing collective responsibility for the future we are striving for.

The forum venue attracted more than 1,000 delegates from different countries. The opening ceremony and plenary session was attended by President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, world leaders and delegates from international organizations. The high-level guests included Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Kyrgyz Republic President Sadyr Japarov, Chairman of the of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Zeljka Cvijanovic, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov and former Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome. 

The plenary session with heads of state and international organizations was moderated by internationally renowned CNN journalist Richard Quest.

Among the leaders of international organizations and financial institutions, the forum was attended by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, UN Under-Secretary-General – Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Margareta Cederfelt, SCO Secretary General Zhang Ming, among others.

The forum program itself consisted of over 40 panel sessions, informal discussions and other extracurricular activities. Experts from Bloomberg, Financial Times, BBC, Le Figaro, Al Jazeera served as moderators. The UN and CNN were strategic partners of the forum.

The AIF also became an anchor event for investors – the Astana Finance Days conference and the Foreign Investors’ Council were held as part of the forum.

The main discussions at the AIF focused on climate change, food shortages and energy security. The forum provided a platform for the global community to join forces in search for consolidated solutions to challenges posed by growing geopolitical tensions and transformation of traditional models for inter-state cooperation.

One of the central discussions at the forum was the rise of geopolitical tensions, competition between China and the United States, climate change and cybersecurity. Delegates felt that direct dialogue and cooperation within the UN and other international organizations should be the answer to these challenges.

The experts and participants also referred to the UN reform, including the UN Security Council. The participants agreed that UN reform should be based on security and peace, additional funding for new challenges and more transparency.

Discussions at the AIF focused on ways to develop Central Asia. The speakers agreed that sustainable development in Central Asia is only possible in an environment of stability, trust and geopolitical equilibrium. The feasibility of establishing an energy hub in the region was also raised.

Additional sessions of the forum focused on women’s leadership and gender equality, digitalization and artificial intelligence, food security and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the general sponsors of the forum were Samruk Kazyna and Eurasian Resources Group. Freedom Finance Kazakhstan is the official bank of this event. The official sponsors included Kazakhmys Corporation, Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V., North Caspian Operating Company N.V.,Baiterek national holding, Maten Petroleum, Kozhan, Caspi Neft, Allure Group, BI Group, KAZ Minerals Management, Astana Motors, Bereke bank, and Bazis Construction.

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