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The First Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference in Armenia a Success

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National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia— The First edition of the Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference was held on October 26-27, 2018. This conference was organized by “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research”, Foundation, Armenia and Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia. It was supported by the Diplomatic Foundation of Armenia and the Transport Project Implementation Organization, Armenia and Modern Diplomacy, Greece.

The Academician, Prof., Dr. Sci. Ruben Safrastyan (Director, Institute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences) opened the China-Eurasia Conference with his key note speech on the current situation of Chinese studies in Armenia. He emphasized the importance of this conference, mentioning that it would be very important to testify researches on China’s relations with the other Eurasian countries.

In turn, Dr. Mher Sahakyan (Founding head of the Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference and the Head of the “‘China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research”) in his speech mentioned, that the main aim of this conference was providing a platform for researchers who do research on China-Eurasia relations. The Conference was an occasion to facilitate exchanges on common research subjects, compare perspectives and methodologies and promote interdisciplinary dialogue.

Dr. Robert Ghazaryan, Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, NAS, Armenia, co-organizer of this conference, mentioned that the research on China’s modern policy in the Eurasian region has important political, economic and scientific significance for the political and analytical circles of the Republic of Armenia.

Among speakers were Dr.Ma Bin (Fudan University, China), Connor Judge (PhD Candidate, SOAS, University of London, Great Britain),Dr.Srdjan Uljevic (American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic), Dr.June Wang (City University of Hong Kong, China), Dr.Anna Zalinyan (Anania Shirakatsy Lyceum, Armenia), Zachary Paikin (University of Kent, Great Britain, Senior Editor at Global Brief Magazine), Dr.Anatoly Tsvyk(RUDN University, Russia),Konstantin Tasits (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia), Dr.Jukka Aukia(University of Turku, Finland), Dr. Uzma Siraj (Federal Urdu University Islamabad, Pakistan), Dr. Mher Sahakyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia), Dr.Ma Xiaoyun (Party School of CPC Tongling Municipal Committee, China), Gabriel de Rezende Piccinini(University of Minho, Portugal; Brazil),  Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research”, Foundation, Armenia), Dr. Robert Tumanyan (Hunan University, China), Izabella Muradyan(Chinese Centre Culture and Science, Armenia),Luiza Grigoryan (European University in Armenia),Dai Yulong (PhD Candidate, Nanjing University, China), Dr. Vakhtang Charaia (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia),Gabriela Radu (Strategic Analyst, Romania),Saren Abgaryan (PhD Candidate, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China), Dr. Shota Gulbani(Caucasus International University Georgia), Andranik Hovhannisyan (PhD Student, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia),Oganesyan Arusyak(PhD Candidate, RUDN University, Russia), KhubrikovBadma (Buryat State University, Russia).

Among invited honorable guests of the conference were Ambassador of the Kazakhstan in Armenia, H.E. Mr. Timur Urazaev, Academician-Secretary of the Department of Armenology and Social Sciences, Prof., Dr. Sci. Yuri Suvaryan, Mr.Dmitry Semenovich, Senior Counsellor of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus and others.

The conference was an important international contribution on modern China-Eurasia Research, as it stood an important academician platform for the scholars to present and discuss contemporary issues related to China’s political and economic relations with Eurasian countries.

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Africa Today

Ethiopia: Safe access and swift action needed for refugees in Tigray

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Ethiopian refugees fleeing clashes in the country's northern Tigray region, rest and cook meals near UNHCR's Hamdayet reception centre after crossing into Sudan. © UNHCR/Hazim Elhag

The head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday expressed his deep concern over the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, including its impact on Eritrean refugees hosted there. 

The conflict between the Ethiopian Government and regional forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) began in early November, when the Prime Minister ordered a military offensive after rebels attacked a federal army base. Government forces reported that the region had been secured at the end of November, but TPLF resistance has continued amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and rights abuses. 

Despite some positive developments in accessing and assisting vulnerable populations, since the start of the Government operation, UNHCR’s repeated requests to access the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps have gone unanswered. 

“I am very worried for the safety and well-being of Eritrean refugees in those camps”, said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “They have been without any aid for many weeks”.  

UNHCR continues to receive many reliable reports and first-hand accounts of ongoing insecurity and allegations of grave and distressing human rights abuses, such as killings, targeted abductions and forced return of refugees to Eritrea, said Mr. Grandi. 

Moreover, the agency has learned of additional military incursions over the last 10 days that are consistent with open-source satellite imagery showing new fires and other fresh signs of destruction at the two camps.  

“These are concrete indications of major violations of international law”, the High Commissioner spelled out. 

Doubly distressed 

Ethiopia has long given refuge to people fleeing conflict and persecution.  

The federal Government has provided assurances of measures are to minimize the impact of the conflict on civilians.  

“I have impressed upon the Ethiopian leadership, the urgency of ensuring the protection of refugees, preventing forced return and keeping refugee camps safe from attacks and other threats from armed actors”, said Mr. Grandi.  

Equally distressing, he said, is that UNHCR teams have been unable to assist the thousands of Eritrean refugees who continue to flee the camps in search of safety and support.  

“Refugees arriving on foot to Shire town in Tigray are emaciated, begging for aid that is not available”, recounted the High Commissioner.  

Against the backdrop that refugees who had reached Addis Ababa are being returned to Tigray, some against their will, he reiterated the UN-wide call for “full and unimpeded access” to explore “all options to safely provide desperately needed assistance”. 

Unwavering commitment 

In line with the humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality, UNHCR stands committed to work with the Ethiopian Government in protecting and assisting those forced to flee.  

“We remain available to seek solutions – together – to the current humanitarian problems in a spirit of collaboration and constructive partnership”, said the UNHCR chief. “Safe access and swift action are needed now to save thousands of lives at risk”.

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Earth Observation Data Could Represent A Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Africa

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Earth observation [EO] data provides a billion-dollar opportunity for economies on the African continent, one that could create jobs and build new resilience after COVID-19.

The newly released report Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation to address Africa’s critical challenges lays out the multiple economic benefits from EO data. The report was written in collaboration with Digital Earth Africa, an initiative that is a world first in providing freely accessible data that maps the entire African continent.

This report marks the first known time the potential impact of EO for Africa has been quantified. According to estimates, EO could be worth up to $2 billion a year thanks to:

1. A strengthened EO industry. Improved use of EO data could lead to an extra $500 million in yearly EO sales along with new job opportunities and increased fiscal revenues.

2. Boosted agricultural productivity. Better data could potentially be worth an extra $900 million a year, thanks to water savings and productivity gains for farmers, not to mention reduced pesticide usage.

3. Better regulation of gold mining activity. Data allows countries to crack down on illegal mining, providing a potential savings of at least $900 million from reduced environmental damage and fiscal evasion.

The report shows the opportunity available in EO data to strengthen economies and reach sustainability goals. EO data can help governments make more informed decisions regarding water, agriculture, food security and urbanization. Advancing new collaborations between public and private efforts can incentivize data sharing to develop EO industries on the continent even further.

Dr Adam Lewis, Managing Director of the Digital Earth Program welcomes the findings of the report as the first of its kind to quantify the potential benefits of the program. “Through collaboration with key partners both within Africa and across the globe, we have made significant progress in turning this potential into a reality. Over the last 12 months the program has met a number of milestones in improving access to data and services within Africa. Working with Amazon Web Services as well as international space agencies and the private sector, we have been able to provide access to locally stored analysis-ready satellite data within Africa.” Adam said.

“We are proud to support Digital Earth Africa’s efforts to make Earth observation data more easily accessible to African nations,” said Ana Pinheiro Privette, Lead for Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. “Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, Amazon is making available petabytes of Earth observation data, which provide valuable insights for communities to manage climate impacts including increased floods and droughts.”

Valuing the impact of EO is an emerging practice globally, with recent reports covering the Asia Pacific, Australia, the European Union and the UK, but this is the first such report for Africa. The report was developed following examination of the readiness of African countries to effectively and efficiently grow their geospatial capabilities, integrated with study of the potential economic benefit of EO data adoption on specific sustainable development focus areas.

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Data-Driven Operations Are Key to Future of Manufacturing

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In the near future, manufacturing companies will collaborate in hyperconnected value networks in which data-and-analytics applications drive productivity, new customer experiences and societal and environmental impact. A new white paper, Data Excellence: Transforming Manufacturing and Supply Systems, released today presents the challenges for manufacturers and provides the steps to overcome them.

According to the report, nearly three-quarters of 1,300 surveyed manufacturing executives consider advanced analytics to be critical for success and more important today than three years ago. However, only a few companies capture the full value that data and analytics can unlock to address manufacturers’ most pressing challenges. Less than 20% of surveyed participants prioritize advanced analytics to promote either short-term cost reductions or longer-term structural cost improvements. Only 39% have managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product and thus achieve a clearly positive business case.

Surveyed manufacturers cited various challenges that impeded their efforts to further scale and implement data-and-analytics solutions within their plants and across networks:

  • They struggle to prioritize the right value-adding use cases from a broad range of applications
  • They have not put in place technological enablers, such as data security or advanced algorithms
  • They lack critical organizational enablers, such as skills and capabilities and effective internal governance

This study by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), features insights from a unique community of 40+ manufacturing organizations and leading academics and public sector representatives, identifying six priorities to capture value from data and analytics in manufacturing:

  • Define a data-to-value strategy and roadmap
  • Incentivize internal and external ecosystem partners
  • Build capabilities to capture and use data
  • Implement an open platform to unlock data silos
  • Enable connectivity for low-latency, high-bandwidth data flows
  • Ensure data security and privacy

“These findings will help accelerate our journey to support companies in devising a path forward to reach the next level of data-based manufacturing excellence, build trust among manufacturing, suppliers and customers, and unlock new value through the development of new data-driven ecosystems,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum.

“Manufacturing is on the verge of a data‑driven revolution,” said Daniel Küpper, Managing Director and Partner of BCG and a report co-author. “But many companies have become disillusioned because they lack the technological backbone required to effectively scale data-and-analytics applications. Establishing these prerequisites will be critical to success in the post-pandemic world.”

As a next step, the community is co-developing a Manufacturing Data Excellence Framework, which comprises value-adding applications as well as technological and organizational success factors. Companies will be able to leverage this framework to accelerate the development of globally connected manufacturing data ecosystems.

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