Yerevan State University, Yerevan, Armenia— The Second edition of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference was held on November 1-2, 2019. The conference was organized by “‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research” and Yerevan State University.
Mrs. Lena Nazaryan, Vice President of the National Assembly of Armenia, in her opening speech, has stated that Armenia gives an importance for strengthening its cooperation with China. She also mentioned that agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the PRC will provide an added impetus to develop economic relations in both bilateral and multilateral levels.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia Mr. Tian Erlong noted; “I am very pleased to attend the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia Conference” dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, which is organized by Yerevan State University and ‘China-Eurasia’ Council for Political and Strategic Research.” He added, that China and the World are experiencing unprecedented changes of the international pattern for the past 100 years. In response to various global issues and challenges and continuous improvement of global governance capabilities, China is willing to make efforts with countries all over the world, including the Eurasian region, adhering to the path of peaceful development, multilateralism, and to the strategy of mutual benefit, win-win and openness, against the hegemonism and power politics, to contribute in building a new type of international relations and community of human destiny.
In turn, Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations of the Yerevan State University, Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan, said that deepening relations with China is one of the foreign policy priorities of Armenia. Yerevan aims to strengthen Armenia’s role in the Eurasian region by expanding relations also with China. He hoped that “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference will help in this work.
Director of “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research and founder of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” Conference, mentioned that during the conference, which was organized by Yerevan State University and “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research the geopolitical, economic and security changes taking place in the Eurasian continent would be discussed. He added that the main aim of the conference is to focus on China’s pivot towards Eurasian continent through its Belt and Road initiative, the US pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, EAEU and EU integration projects in Eurasia etc. He stated that the Asia-pacific region stood the main center of economic developments of the world, it is already fact and all states must think about their own political and economic involvement with this region and of course, China, as a young superpower has its very important role here.
The following panels of the Conference followed the opening ceremony:
The first panel was “China, Eurasia and the New World Order”, where Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner(International Institute for Peace and University of Vienna, Chair of the Advisory Committee for Strategy and Security Policy of the Scientific Commission at the Austrian Armed Forces, Austria) delivered keynote speech on“Eurasia between Multipolarity and Multilateralism”. Prof. Dr. Süha Atatüre (Head of the Department of International Relations, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey) joined the conference with the help of video call. His keynote speech was about “The Globalization, Our World and China Today”.Dr. Zheng Yuntian (Deputy Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China, PRC)during his keynote speech told about the importance of building a Community with a shared future for mankind and the new international vision of the Chinese development model.Dr. Mher D. Sahakyan (Director, “China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) introduced his research on China’s national security and Belt and Road Initiative.
The second panel was named “China and the Global Leadership”, where Dr. Anahit Parzyan (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research) spoke about China’s cyber policy and introduced Beijing’s capabilities for Global cyber leadership. In turn, Dr. Sudhir Kumar Singh (University of Delhi, India) delivered a speech on challenges and opportunities between triangle relations of ASEAN-China. Alexander Korolev (Deputy Head, Eurasian Sector, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia) introduced his research, which was called “EAEU-China: Connecting Eurasia”.This panel was chaired by Prof. Dr. Heinz Gärtner.
The third panel was focused on China’s Belt and Road initiative and the world. This Russian language panel started witha keynote speech by Prof. Dr. Konstantin Kurylev (RUDN University, Russia), which was about the features of implementation and development prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative.Konstantin Tasits (Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia) continued the topic and spoke about China’s Policy in South Caucasus in the context of Belt and Road Initiative. Evelina Moravska (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland) introduced her research on China’s policy in the region of Caspian Sea.This panel was chaired by Dr. Artur H. Israyelyan.
The fourth panel was dedicated to China’s policy in Western Balkans, during which Prof. Dr. Boris Vukićević (Vice-Rector, University of Montenegro, Montenegro) introduced China’s policy in the Western Balkans as anew player in the strategic game.The panel was chaired by Dr. Zheng Yuntian.
The second day of the “Eurasian Research on Modern China and Eurasia” conference started with the “China and Eurasia” panel.
Dr. Yu Tao (University of Western Australia, Australia) introduced his research on religions and China’s diplomatic endeavors in Eurasia (1979-2019). In turn, Yeghia Tashjian from American University of Beirut, Lebanon, dedicated his speech to China’s policy on Iranian nuclear issue and China’s Energy Security.Dr. Larisa Smirnova shared her thoughts about some differences between Russian and Chinese understanding of the meaning of “developing” and “developed” states during this panel.This panel was chaired by Dr. Varuzhan Geghamyan (Assistant Professor, Yerevan State University/ Director, ARDI Institute, Armenia). During this panel speakers, chair and attendees discussed alsothe meaning of “Eurasia” term from the different schools’ perspectives.
The next panel was called “China, Policy, Subcultures and Information”. This Russian language panel started with a keynote speech byDr. Hovhannes Sargsyan (Head, Department of Political Science, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia). His paper was dedicated to cultural and civilizational foundations of Chinese strategic culture. In turn, Dr. Nadezhda Kotelnikova (Volgograd State Pedagogical University, Russia) delivered speech on Chinese city subcultures in the context of urban communication studies. The next speaker was Michal Marek (PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland). He introduced his research on factors and events that shape the image of China in the Polish information space.Dr. Anton Evstratov (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) spoke about China’s policy in the Central Asia. Andranik Hovhannisyan’s (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) paper was titled “Russia and China ‘A New Big Game’ in the Central Asia”.Ruzanna Airapetova (PhD Student, Russian-Armenian University, Armenia) delivered a speech on public diplomacy of China and Armenia.This panel was chaired by Dr. Hovhannes Sargsyan.
The seven panel was dedicated to China’s role in Shanghai Cooperation organization and its relations with NATO. During this panel Slobodan Popovic (PhD Candidate, University of Belgrade, Serbia) spoke about geopolitical role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the Belt and Road Initiative.Dr. Anna Zalinyan (Public Administration Academy of RA, Armenia) introduced her research on NATO-China Council relationship in political-military dimensions.Dr. Saren Abgaryan (Shanghai Jiatong University, PRC) changed the direction of the panel and introduced the new Foreign investment law of China from the viewpoint of foreign companies in China.The aforementioned panel was chaired by Dr. Anahit Parzyan.In the last panel thanks to technologies, by the help of video call Giulia Sciorati (University of Trento) raised and answered to the following question:“Is the Belt and Road Initiative under Siege?” In turn, Elisa Gambino (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) introduced her research on Chinese participation in Kenyan Transport Infrastructure Projects.
During the conference an exhibition titled “Beautiful China” was also organized by the support of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia. Speakers also visited the history museum of Yerevan State University.
Among honorable guests of the conference were senior councilor of the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Aleksander Ananev, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia Mr. Zhou Hongyou, Councilor of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Armenia Miss. Asel Isimova, Ambassador Dr. Arman Navasardyan, Dr. Robert Ghazaryan (Vice Director, IOS, NAS), attachéof the Embassy of Russian Federation in Armenia, Mr. Dmitri Demkin and other diplomats and scholars.
As Businesses Embrace Sustainability, a Pathway to Economic Reset Emerges
In the midst of a deep recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing consensus that the global economy is due for a reset. Business leaders are optimistic that rather than slide back into normality, as the leading economies did after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the major social, political and climatological ruptures of recent years have driven a growing awareness that as the world emerges from the pandemic, it will not be business as usual.
The urgent need for far-reaching change, however, is matched by the enormity of the challenges. “What this pandemic has done so far is not really change the future yet, but it has very much revealed the present,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Our main measures of success remain solely financial,” said Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever. “It’s bizarre and it’s outdated.” He called for “21st-century tools for a 21st-century environment”, noting that: “The definition of success for a country, which is usually GDP, and all our traditional financial metrics are built on environmental degradation and growing inequality.”
Along with mandating non-financial reporting, Jope called for four other changes to the way business is done. “It’s really believing that operating to the benefit of multiple stakeholders works,” he said. “Serving customers properly, looking after employees, being fair with suppliers, and making a positive contribution to society and the health of the planet will lead to better financial returns.”
Anne Finucane, Vice-Chairman of Bank of America, echoed the assertion that companies can do well by doing good. “In recent years, there’s a fair amount of data that’s been put forward to demonstrate that if ESG is calculated into the behaviour of a company that the company itself does better – less bankruptcy, higher satisfaction with its clients and customers, and even sometimes higher multiples.”
“We are hearing our shareholders. We are hearing our stakeholders. They are broader than just economic. They are looking for us to be citizens of the world,” she said.
Noting that one of the changes likely to endure after the pandemic is the acceleration of reliance on digital technology, Bradley Smith, President of Microsoft, argued that while business will clearly continue to have an important role to play in upskilling and reskilling workers, governments have an important role to play in facilitating advanced training in technology. “If you look back at the last 20 years, after an upsurge in employer investments in employing skilling in the late 1990s we’ve seen 20 years of decline and stagnation by employers investing in the skilling of their employees,” Smith said. “We need to have a recovery that is led in part by small business. We’re going to need to help small businesses onboard new employees. We’re going to need to help small businesses invest in skilling of their employees, and this is a huge opportunity I think for governments to think anew about tax credits and other incentives they can provide.”
One of the biggest obstacles, participants agreed, is to dispel the idea that there is an either-or choice between delivering profits and growth, on the one hand, and on the other, giving primacy to the interests of stakeholders – employees, customers, communities, and the environment. Jope challenged that assumption. “We have to break that paradigm. We have to build the evidence that offering sustainable solutions to consumers, that conducting yourself with decency makes you an attractive employee, that treating suppliers well, that reducing your environmental footprint actually lowers costs – and all these things drive better financial performance,” he said. “Then there will be less suspicion that there will always be a tradeoff between the [sustainable goals] and better financial performance.”
How environmental policy can drive gender equality
Environmental degradation has gendered impacts which need to be properly assessed and monitored to understand and adopt gender-responsive strategies and policies. While designing these, it is essential that measures targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment are adequately formulated and mainstreamed.
To facilitate experience sharing and learning from good practices, on the 9th of September, the UNECE hosted a webinar on Gender Mainstreaming in Environmental Policies and Strategies. Ms. Astrid Krumwiede, head of the unit in charge of the development and application of gender aspects in environmental policy in the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, shared experiences from Germany, which considers gender equality to be a cross cutting issue for all areas of environmental policy. On the national level, the Ministry for the Environment has sought to integrate gender equality in various ways, such as through dialogues, meetings, guidelines, education and policies. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the fragility of progress made in gender equality, the Federal Government adopted an economic stimulus package that includes measures to provide financial assistance for women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Germany has also strived for the implementation of gender mainstreaming in environmental policy at the international level, which is especially true in the field of climate change in the context of measures and strategies concerning the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement.
Despite progress made, there are still some long-standing barriers to implementing gender mainstreaming. These include a lack of political support, a lack of women in decision making and leadership positions, insufficient representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related professions, and outdated stereotypes. Moving forward, capacity building and equality impact assessment trainings need to be gender responsive so that suitable incentives are provided which enable women to participate. Communication and promotion are of vital importance, especially in finding new ways to communicate during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that gender equality remains a focal issue. Incorporating an intersectional approach to gender equality in environmental policy is also essential, since ignoring this in policymaking can create a system that creates and reinforces different forms of discrimination.
Looking to the future, in the words of Ms. Astrid Krumwiede, “it is time for tailor made environmental policies which reflect different needs and requirements for different people”.
The webinar was complemented by perspectives from UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews and the Protocol on Water and Health on the specific examples of gender mainstreaming in environmental reviews and water, sanitation and hygiene.
Business World Now Able to ‘Walk the Talk’ on Stakeholder Capitalism
The World Economic Forum today launched a set of metrics to measure stakeholder capitalism at the Sustainable Development Impact Summit. Calling on all companies to adopt the metrics to demonstrate their progress against environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said: ‘With these metrics, the business world will finally be able to walk the talk on their commitment to ESG performance and the stakeholder capitalism principle.”
The set of 21 core and 34 expanded metrics is presented in a new report published today by the Forum, Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation. The work is the culmination of a year of unprecedented collaboration between the world’s four largest accounting firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC – under the leadership of the World Economic Forum.
The initiative goes beyond the traditional remit of ESG and aligns its indicators with the SDGs by embracing metrics across four pillars: Principles of Governance, Planet, People and Prosperity. The Forum’s International Business Council (IBC) sees this as not only good for society and the planet but also good for business. “It is proven that businesses that focus on all stakeholders and the planet over the long term do better,” said Punit Renjen, Global Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte at the livestreamed session today.
The project deliberately selected existing metrics from among the plethora of overlapping ESG standards and frameworks that currently exist – the “alphabet soup” of standards, as the session moderator Gillian Tett of the Financial Times put it. ‘We’re not trying to replace anything out there. We’re just trying to come up with a common set of metrics that companies can sign up to,” said Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. These metrics will allow stakeholders to understand a company’s long-term value rather than the short-term view many current financial metrics show. “This is incredibly important for investors,” Di Sibio said.
According to Bill Thomas, Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of KPMG International, companies also have a more direct self-interest in adopting the metrics. “One of the biggest reasons to do it is… [for] attracting and retaining the very best people today,” he said. “They want to work for an organization that has a purpose beyond simply profits; they know that business has to play a role to build a better, more sustainable society.”
The Forum’s IBC sees this moment as an opportunity to take the lead in shaping the future development of non-financial reporting. “We’re trying to influence the regulators, the standard-setters, the rating agencies around the world and say, ‘these are the ones we truly believe as a business community are the right measures to start with.’ We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for progress. And we’d like some consistency to demonstrate both that progress and that comparability,” said Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC.
He likened the IBC’s aspiration to the process that led to the acceptance of global accounting standards, saying: “The generally accepted [indicators] and those that are practiced influence the rules, the regulations, and then we can cascade and scale those rules and regulations for more alignment, more consistency and better comparability on a worldwide basis.”
At the session to launch the report, Brian Moynihan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, and Chair of the IBC, said the metrics go some way to answering the following questions: “How do you align capitalism with the goals of society and how do you measure that in a way that can consolidate all these measurement systems into one set of metrics that the Big Four accounting firms can endorse and help companies publish, so that people can judge whether they’re making progress?”
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