ASTANA – The bustling Kazakh capital is set to host the highly anticipated Astana International Forum (AIF) this week, bringing together world leaders, policymakers, and prominent figures from various fields to engage in an inspiring dialogue aimed at shaping the future of humanity.
The forum, scheduled to commence on June 8, promises to be a melting pot of innovative ideas, critical discussions, and collaborative initiatives. Delegates from over 100 countries are expected to attend the two-day forum.
With a theme centered around Tackling Challenges Through Dialogue: Towards Cooperation, Development, and Progress, the AIF aims to provide a platform to exchange insights, explore emerging technologies, and deliberate on ways to address pressing global issues across four key topics – economy and finance, energy and climate change, international development and sustainability and foreign policy and international security.
Announcing the initiative in February, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said it is meant to “respond to global challenges.”
“In the face of global challenges, we remain committed to global cooperation by championing dialogue, trade, multilateralism, and the exchange of ideas. We will continue to defend international law and to pursue constructive engagement with nations across the world. In this context, we have launched the Astana International Forum, a new international conference that will be a tool for rebuilding a culture of multilateralism on a global level. Most importantly, the Forum will also provide new means to amplify voices that are often minimized,” he wrote in an exclusive OP-ED for The Astana Times on Feb. 7.
Who will be attending
A lineup of speakers includes heads of state, international organizations, leading scholars, and policymakers, including 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.
Some of them are expected to deliver keynote addresses along with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Economy and finance
The sessions on economy and finance will address economic recovery and resilience-building measures, creative economy for promoting sustained and inclusive growth, advancing women’s leadership, strengthening Eurasian connectivity, digitalization and AI.
“By bringing together top CEOs and some of the world’s most successful females, this session will explore how women’s leadership benefits the corporate and political world and our globally interconnected economies. The discussion will focus on how female leadership brings innovation, diversity, and inclusivity to companies, leading to greater competitiveness and sustainability. The panelists will share their experiences and insights on the challenges and opportunities of promoting gender diversity in leadership positions, the strategies for overcoming barriers to women’s leadership, and the impact of gender-inclusive leadership on organizational culture and performance in some of the most competitive markets around the world,” said Charlotte Kan, former Bloomberg journalist, who will moderate the session on promoting women’s leadership.
Energy and climate change
The sessions will explore global energy transition, climate change mitigation, and sustainable practices. The green transition will be at the center of discussions.
Kazakhstan embarked on a green transition path in 2013 when it adopted the concept of transitioning to a green economy. In 2020, the nation pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, and the strategy toward this goal was adopted in February.
Yet, many challenges remain both for Kazakhstan and countries alike on this path.
“The discussion will identify specific investment opportunities and needs related to green energy, as well as support measures for local and regional projects to transition to environmentally friendly energy. The session will also examine the impact of the transition to green energy on employment, trade, and international relations, as well as possible risks and benefits for the economy and the environment,” said Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, who will moderate the session on green energy transition.
International development and sustainability
The sessions will delve into the impact of geopolitical tensions on global development, the impact of global supply chain disruption on food security, global health preparedness, disinformation and the power of algorithms and education for all.
One of the sessions will focus on global preparedness for future epidemics and pandemics, just one month after the World Health Organization announced the end of the COVI9-19 pandemic that killed millions of people worldwide.
“Panelists will discuss the challenges and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to improve global preparedness for the future. Various aspects of global preparedness will be considered, including vulnerability assessments of different countries and regions, funding of preparatory measures, strengthening healthcare systems, increasing developments in medicine, as well as funding and research of new technologies. The discussion will also seek to explore ways to improve the performance of international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), in preparing for global epidemics and pandemics,” said Afaf Saoudi, Executive Producer for Europe Region at Aljazeera Network, who will moderate the session.
Foreign policy and international security
From the future of multilateralism to the role of the UN in the current global order, the sessions will feature such speakers as Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas in the UN Department of Political Affairs, José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission and Non-Executive Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, and Thomas Greminger, Swiss diplomat and former Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Secretary-General.
One of the highlights of the forum is the presentation of the book “The New Kazakhstan: Steering the Steppe Amid a Global Storm” on June 9, written by prominent American economist Nouriel Roubini, known as Dr. Doom for predicting the 2008 global financial crisis, on June 9.
Participants from across the globe will be able to join the discussions remotely. The registration for the forum ended on June 5.