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Largest ‘Summer Davos’ Ever Aims to Boost Global Innovation

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Leaders participating in the 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, to be held in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 18-20 September, will be taking part in the largest ever World Economic Forum summit dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In total, the meeting will welcome over 2,000 top-level representatives from politics, business, civil society, academia and the arts from over 100 countries.

The theme of the meeting is Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Top of the agenda will be workshops on how the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a transformation powered by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and gene editing, is already impacting economies and societies as well as the geopolitical landscape.

Ways in which our world is being impacted by these technologies include the widespread deployment of industrial robots in the manufacturing sector, a rapid expansion in the use of artificial intelligence in business and scientific research, the dangerous concept of “dual-use” technologies, or technologies designed for civilian use that can easily be repurposed for military application.

In addition, the meeting will focus on the key geopolitical and geo-economic issues of today, including the latest developments in global trade, the rise of a “multi-conceptual” geopolitical system and the prospects for the global economy.

There will also be a strong focus on China’s rapid development, featuring top-level discussions on a range of topics including developments in the Belt and Road Initiative, the opening up of China’s financial markets and the country’s recent launch of the world’s largest carbon trading scheme.

Like all World Economic Forum meetings, the design of the programme is heavily weighted towards delivering outcomes, with over 100 working sessions in the programme enabling participants to reach consensus, design policies and build partnerships aimed either at exploiting or mitigating the impacts of the wave of transformation.

“Our world is going through one of the most profound shifts in human history. We are only at the beginning of this transformation, yet we know it holds immense promise and challenges for our future. The purpose of designing an international summit that is dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus the minds of our leaders on how to harness this immense potential and make sure that the future we build is human-centred, sustainable and inclusive,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“From its home in China, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions has grown over 12 years to become the leading global event bringing leaders from government and business together with those from science and technology. I’m proud this year to be welcoming so many Chinese and international partners, many for the first time, as we look to find new ways for innovation to address our gravest challenges and to drive human and economic development,” said David Aikman, Chief Representative Officer, China, World Economic Forum.

“The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Driven by the new international dynamics and revolutionary technologies, China will advance reforms and innovation to push for quality economic development for a brighter future. In the meantime, China is an unwavering champion for globalization that will continue to open its door wider while joining hands with all stakeholders to preserve economic openness and inclusion. I’m looking forward to being inspired by visionary insights and technological trends shared at the forum regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will provide a great source of power for advancing China’s development and global wellbeing in this new era,” said Xia Qing, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation, NDRC.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of ‘reform and opening-up’ in China, and the sixth Annual Meeting of the New Champions to be held in Tianjin. It is also an opportunity for Tianjin to realize the transition from high-speed growth to high-quality development. The meeting will not only introduce China’s achievements in deepening reform, extended open-up and cultural advancement but also provide the largest platform and the broadest development space to expand and enhance Tianjin’s competitiveness and influence,” said Zhao Haishan, Vice-Mayor, Tianjin Municipal Government.

Nearly 200 public figures from 42 countries will join the discussions in Tianjin. From China, these include: Wan Gang, President, Chinese Association for Science and Technology; Yi Gang, Governor, People’s Bank of China; Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology; Xiao Yaqing, Chairman, State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC); and Liu Kun, Minister of Finance.

International public figures representing G20 economies include: Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs of France; Dorothee Baer, State Minister for Digital Affairs of Germany; Nabeel M. Al-Amudi, Minister of Transport of Saudi Arabia; Jeff Radebe, Minister of Energy of South Africa; and Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, USA.

Four countries will be represented by heads of state or government. Meanwhile 38 countries will be represented by deputy heads of state, government or ministers. These include: Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of Bahrain; Mohammed Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba; Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia; Raimonds Vejonis, President of Latvia; Mohammed Abdul Wahed Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar; Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa; and Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting, who will take an active role in a number of sessions, are: Jay Flatley, Executive Chairman, Illumina, USA; Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University, Canada; Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, United Kingdom; Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating Chairman, Huawei Technologies, People’s Republic of China; Liu Jitao, China Communications Construction Company, People’s Republic of China; Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, European Commission; and Abi Ramanan, Chief Executive Officer, ImpactVision, UK.

Other key participants include: more than 1,500 business leaders including 500 founders and chief executive officers of the most exciting and innovative start-up companies, more than 50 Young Scientists, the new class of 2018 Technology Pioneers, and representatives from arts and culture, academia and the media. Representing the Forum’s communities are more than 300 Social Entrepreneurs, Global Shapers and Young Global Leaders.

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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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