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48th WEF Annual Meeting to See Unprecedented Engagement of Global Leaders

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The World Economic Forum’s 48th Annual Meeting will take place on 23-26 January 2018 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, bringing together a record number of heads of state, government and international organizations alongside leaders from business, civil society, academia, the arts and media.

Convening participants under the theme, Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World, the meeting will focus on finding ways to reaffirm international cooperation on crucial shared interests, such as international security, the environment and the global economy. The meeting comes at a time when geostrategic competition between states is generally seen to be on the rise.

Alongside international cooperation, an additional priority of the meeting will be to overcome divisions within countries. These have often been caused by breakdowns in the social contract as a result of failure to protect societies from the transformational impacts of a succession of shocks, from globalization to the proliferation of social media and the birth of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Collectively, these shocks have caused a loss of trust in institutions and damaged the relationship between business and society.

“Our world has become fractured by increasing competition between nations and deep divides within societies. Yet the sheer scale of the challenges our world faces makes concerted, collaborative and integrated action more essential than ever. Our Annual Meeting aims to overcome these fault lines by reasserting shared interests among nations and securing multistakeholder commitment to renewing social contracts through inclusive growth,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

This year’s opening address will be delivered by Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, will deliver a keynote address before the close of the meeting. This year a record number of leaders from G7 economies will participate, including Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy; Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, in addition to President Trump. As well as Prime Minister Modi, other leaders from the G20 include Liu He, Member, Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee; General Office Director, Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, People’s Republic of China; Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina, Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa; and Michel Temer, President of Brazil. From the host country, Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, will also participate.

Overall, the Annual Meeting will feature over 340 top political leaders with 10 heads of state and government from Africa, nine from the Middle East and North Africa and six from Latin America. These include; Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe; Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria; Saad Al Hariri, President of the Council of Ministers, Lebanon; His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; and Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia.

Leaders from international organizations include Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO); Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Zeid Ra’ad Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank; Miroslav Lajcák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, United Nations; Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO).

Representing the pinnacle of accomplishment across government, business, civil society and academia, the Co-Chairs of the Annual Meeting 2018 are: Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium; Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Geneva; Isabelle Kocher, Chief Executive Officer, ENGIE, France; Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation, USA; Chetna Sinha, Founder and Chair, Mann Deshi Foundation, India; and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.

In addition to record participation from the public sector, the private sector will be represented by over 1,900 leaders. Civil society is represented by almost 900 leaders from NGOs, social entrepreneurs, academia, labour organizations, faith-based and religious groups and media. The Annual Meeting is also the foremost global summit representing younger generations, with 50 members of the Forum’s Global Shaper community, aged between 20 and 30, and 80 Young Global Leaders under the age of 40, participating.

Over 21% of participants at this year’s meeting will be women, a higher proportion than at any previous meeting. The Forum works throughout the year to highlight the gender gap and develop strategies to help women achieve positions of senior leadership.

Featuring over 400 sessions, nearly half of which are webcast, the meeting programme has been designed around four tracks:

Driving sustained economic progress

If technological change and environmental degradation have fundamentally changed how the global economy works, then what new economic models could put us on a path to shared prosperity?

Navigating a multipolar and multiconceptual world

If economic uncertainty and geopolitical competition have driven efforts to reclaim national power and sovereignty, then what balance between global cooperation and local autonomy could prevent the disintegration of the world order?

Overcoming divisions in society

If outrage cycles in media and political rhetoric are widening societal fault lines and undermining tolerance, then what solutions can be jointly developed to restore the social compact?

Shaping the agile governance of technology

If recent technological advances have the potential to fundamentally redefine modern life, then what ethical foundations and adaptive policies could ensure that society benefits from equal access and equal protection in the future?

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EU plans to invest €9.2 billion in key digital technologies

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The Digital Europe Programme is a new €9.2 billion funding programme whose goal is to ensure that all Europeans have the skills and the infrastructure needed to meet a full range of digital challenges.

It is part of a strategy to further develop the digital single market, which could help to create four million jobs and boost the EU’s economy with €415 billion every year while increasing the EU’s international competitiveness.

“For too many years, Europe’s tech sector has lagged behind third countries such as the US and China. We need a coherent Union-wide approach and an ambitious investment to secure a solution to the chronic mismatch between the growing demand for the latest technology and the available supply in Europe,” said Austrian ALDE member Angelika Mlinar, one of the MEPs repsonsible for steering the plans through Parliament.

A part of the budget  would be allocated to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations to use technology more often and better, while other parts will cover strategically important fields such as supercomputers, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“We can count on European excellence when it comes to research and innovation, but our businesses, especially SMEs, still found it difficult to access and take advantage of new solutions,” said Milnar. “This programme has been crucially designed to tackle the low take-up of existing testing technologies. We are on track to deliver one of the most promising and necessary funds for Europe’s future.”

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ADB Releases Annual Report, Financial Results for 2018

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released its Annual Report for 2018 today. The report presents ADB’s important operational and organizational milestones over the past year, including key numbers and data of ADB operations, activities, and financial results.

It also focuses on the adoption of ADB’s new long-term corporate strategy, Strategy 2030, approved in July 2018, and highlights the strategic transition in progress across all aspects of ADB’s operations and organization.

The demand for ADB assistance continued to grow in 2018. New commitments included $21.6 billion in loans, grants, and investments from ADB’s own resources, exceeding the target of $19.71 billion and up 10% from 2017.

Private sector operations reached $3.14 billion, a 37% increase from 2017, which is 14.5% of ADB’s overall commitment. The result reflected ADB’s long-term strategy to increase support for private enterprise, especially in new markets and sectors, to create more high-quality jobs and to mobilize private financial resource for development.

ADB also successfully mobilized $14 billion in cofinancing from bilateral and multilateral agencies and other financing partners, including $7.17 billion in cofinancing from ADB’s private sector operations. The increase in cofinancing saw total new commitments reach $35.82 billion in 2018, a 13% increase over 2017, reflecting the importance of partnerships in addressing Asia and the Pacific’s continuously growing development needs.

Disbursements, a key indicator for successful project implementation, also improved, rising to $14.19 billion in 2018, an increase of 24% from 2017.

In his message to stakeholders in the report, ADB President Mr. Takehiko Nakao said that Strategy 2030 had energized ADB and positioned the Manila-based lender well to help countries in Asia and the Pacific cope with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“As our region continues to develop and transform, so too must ADB,” said Mr. Nakao. “Strategy 2030 provides us with a clear roadmap to meet the needs of our developing member countries (DMCs) and guide our operations for the next decade. We set out clear corporate targets to significantly increase operations, to build climate and disaster resilience, address gender equality, and mobilize long-term private financing.”

ADB continued to deliver on its climate commitments in 2018 with $3.6 billion in financing approved. ADB is on target to double its annual climate financing to $6 billion in approvals by 2020.

ADB also made significant progress in designing projects with a gender focus. In 2018, 47% of ADB’s support, on a three-year-average term, included elements that directly improved the lives of women and girls in the region.

The report also records ADB’s successful efforts to strengthen its role as a leading provider of development knowledge and expertise to DMCs seeking support to implement policies, programs, and projects that utilize international best practices and learnings.

Internally, ADB continued to implement initiatives to improve operational efficiency and business processes. The report describes key areas of reform that support Strategy 2030, including information technology reforms to modernize ADB’s systems and infrastructure.

In 2018, to complement its print and online editions, ADB produced a new format of the Annual Report that is optimized for smart devices and screens. The new format includes rich multimedia content and enables standard touchscreen features such as swipe, tap, and scroll.

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New ACP-EU partnership: EU discusses future EU- Caribbean relations

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As the EU works to modernise its relations with the 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), chief negotiators Neven Mimica and Robert Dussey met with ACP Caribbean leaders for a dialogue on the regional EU-Caribbean pillar in the context of the post Cotonou ACP-EU partnership.

Today’s discussions form part of broader regional consultations and are focused on the Caribbean’s specific needs and priorities for the coming years. The outcome will guide the negotiators’ work in creating a tailor-made EU-Caribbean partnership within the future ACP-EU agreement.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, who is the EU’s chief negotiator said: “Today’s discussions confirmed a shared vision for the future and a good understanding of the pressing challenges we need to tackle together. In this spirit, the EU’s relationship with the Caribbean will deepen under our future ACP-EU agreement and open up fresh opportunities”.

Professor Robert Dussey, the ACP’s chief negotiator, Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Africa integration of Togo, said: “These regional consultations proved to bring valuable perspectives on this region’s priorities to our talks. Productive exchanges between the two parties will contribute enormously to the current negotiations for the new post-Cotonou Agreement, and especially to those which will begin on the Caribbean Regional Protocol. Today’s meeting follows the consultation held in Samoa with our ACP Pacific partners in February. The Africa consultation is due to take place soon in Eswatini.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Kamina Johnson-Smith, added: “Within the framework of the ongoing ACP-EU post-Cotonou negotiations, the Government of Jamaica is pleased to host the regional consultations for the Caribbean and to have the opportunity to jointly explore with our EU partners some of the urgent issues related to our developmental aspirations.”

Background 

The Cotonou Agreement currently governing ACP-EU relations is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations on a new ACP-EU partnership were launched in New York on 28 September 2018 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.

The two first series of talks mainly focused on the common foundation at ACP-EU level. This contains the values and principles that bring the EU and ACP countries together. It also indicates the strategic priority areas that the two sides intend to prospectively work on together. In the future agreement, on top of the foundation there will be three action-oriented regional pillars to focus on each region’s specific needs. Through the future partnership, EU and ACP countries will seek closer political cooperation on the world stage. Together, they represent more than half of all UN member countries and unite over 1.5 billion people. 

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