Astana International Forum is an Important Addition to Major Economic Forums, Says Canadian Professor

ASTANA – Astana International Forum (AIF) is an important addition to major economic forums held annually, said Bart W. Édes, Professor of Practice at McGill University and distinguished fellow at Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, in an interview with The Astana Times. 

Bart W. Édes. Photo credit:

The forum will commence on June 8 with the plenary session addressed by President Kasysm-Jomart Tokayev.

Édes, who arrived in Astana on June 6 for the forum, drew parallels between AIF, Davos, Boao, and the International Economic Forum of the Americas. 

He emphasized how important the platform is now in times of the “ongoing, overlapping crises,” including food insecurity, developing country debt, Ukraine, inflation, and economic slowdown.

“I welcome the opportunities presented by this high-level forum to discuss solutions to global challenges with other participants,” said Édes, a policy analyst with years of vast experience in sustainable international development and developing Asian economies and former director of the Regional and Sustainable Development Department at Asian Development Bank (ADB).

For Édes, it is not the first time in Kazakhstan. He has been to Kazakhstan twice, including in 2014 when Astana hosted the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the ADB.

He noted he is “impressed by the list of assembled heavyweight speakers, which will help to establish the forum as a significant yearly event for decision makers and policy influencers from Central Asia and globally.”

Among high-level guests are Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov, Chairwoman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željka Cvijanović, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Audrey Azoulay, and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, and Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Ivana Živković.

When asked what sessions spark particular interest, Edes mentioned regional economic cooperation and trade, the use of strategic foresight to better anticipate and prepare for change, and international development cooperation. 

“These topics overlap substantially with the topics of discussions that are likely to take place at the forum this week,” he said. 

Édes sees notable opportunities in cooperation between Kazakh, and Canadian think tanks. 

“I believe that leading research institutions in Kazakhstan and Canada can collaborate in a meaningful fashion to increase understanding among analysts and public policy makers about each other’s countries, opportunities for bilateral economic cooperation, and how Kazakhstan and Canada are approaching crises and critical challenges confronting the world today,” he said. 

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