Category: Events-reports

Around George Papandreou, Madeleine Albright and several Foreign Affairs and Prime Ministers, the 22nd Symi Symposium invented the “Hybrid Forum”

July 26th-30th, the progressive family resumed meeting, to discuss the current global and US situation, the future of Europe, and topics such as the lifelong learning systems, narratives of wars and progressive movements of care, energy renaissance, the Balkans, the BRICS. Striking a balance: both in person, the good old way, and through Zoom, the good new way.

Despite the pandemic and other shut borders odds, the Symi Symposium, annually organized by the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, could this year again gather George Papandreou’s political and academic, influencers, friends. Since 2017, The Bridge Tank is being part of what this year was perhaps the first “Hybrid Forum”: a fine combination of core in-house, closed doors debates with tailored amount of Zoom exchanges with leaders such as f. Secretary Madeleine Albright, NATO’s Dy SG Geona, f. Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or Colette Avital former Presidential candidate in Israel.

Madeleine Albright from DC, George Papandreou from Symi Symposium and Colette Avital from Israel

Symi Symposium conversations take place under the aegis of the “Chatham House” rules; not disclosing the positions of various speakers, topics revolved around pressing issues: with Madeleine Albright and later with Richard Parker from Harvard on the growing understanding that racism in America has something “systemic”, and how generally speaking the US situation relates to the agony of an age when Americans were 80% rooted in American-European white population, now evolving towards a 4-5 streams of populations origins trying to organise a domestic polity; the US now stand at a point where they have to internally negotiate new political alliances: this might possibly be one root of America giving the impression it is now in a mess.

As Greece now chairs the Council of Europe, this edition was additionally a week long opportunity to discuss current issues with
Frank Schwabe, Chairman of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or Francesca Abrogast, Executive Secretary of the Group.

Frank Schwabe’s speech following George Papandreou’s welcome
Francesca Abrogast, here with Denis MacShanne, who was Tony Blair’s Minister for Europe

We also had the usual Symi Symposium conversations with leaders in the Balkans or struggling progressives of different parts of the world, such as Isadora Zubillaga from Venezuela, the Special Representative in Paris of Juan Guaido. Conversations with leaders who have just emerged out of democratic struggles (North Macedonia), or who are now into these (Venezuela) attested that “Democracy is the longest meeting”. In this line, Joel Ruet from the Bridge Tank advocated for a continued discussion with the weavers within all systems.

Isadora Zubillaga, vice foreign Affairs Minister in Guaido’s “Government in charge” from Venezuela, Radmilla Shekerinska, Minister for Defense, North Macedonia, George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and President of the Socialist International, and Joel Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank.

During the same session, a special conversation with Mircea Geoana gave us the sense that NATO’s Secretariat is quite active at foresight on the risks and threats of the future.

We also discussed the pandemic development through the lens of lifelong learning systems, over three time horizons: so far the reaction against the Covid was a “Defense”, we’ll now need to “Exit” this temporary space and actively prepare to engaging into transformation, e.g. “Enlarging” humanness of systems. On all issues with no boundaries, a care Leadership has to emerge through the right bundle of community, participative democracy, technology, and an Education designed for world and life, not just for jobs. Economics too need to be mobilized: in the eve of automation, how shall robots contribute into revenue, and revenue support a “positive idleness”, that is not a pure ensure but contribution to the society.

It is all the more important to continue this work and not to be blinded by strategic competition, frictions and gaps, but rather recognizing at areas of strategic collaborations: Covid, climate, finance cooperation. The Symposium closed with ground for optimism, noting that in the long course of Energy history, for instance, the world sees the first policy driven energy transformation. It si in a great way also industry-driven and transition has to be Just with a real energy-society integration by policy; this may serves as a case study for a larger renewed Social contract.

Last but not least, Symi was also the occasion to continue exchanging ideas beyond the sessions.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and now Member of Constitutional Court Erick Derycke, Mrs Dericke, and Joel Ruet

Joel Ruet, Chairman The Bridge Tank

NB: This post is only a personal reflexion on the event and discussions and does not bind in anyway the organizers nor any participant. Quotes are not necessarily attributable to any of the participants, nor to the persons mentioned in this post, but are rather reformulations of some formulas that may have circulated in the forum at some point. 

The joint launch of the EU Hydrogen and EU energy integration strategies, along the industry’s clean hydrogen alliance, suggest Europe is ready to build a world-class energy transition advantage

EU’s Policy making seldom shows such a great coordination across the Union, member states, regions, across different policies and between policy makers and the industry. The 8th of July of 2020 was a landmark announcement that could face up Asian leadership ambitions. This demonstrates the cohesive strength of the European construction, the next frontier being of course an energy transition that is just, inclusive, and participative in process.

Global Think Tanks Forum on Health in Global Governance – The Bridge Tank – Chinese Academy of Contemporary Studies

The Bridge Tank and the Chinese Academy of Contemporary Studies co-hosted with the Fondation Getulio Vargas of Brazil and the Russian Academy the Sub-Forum on Health in Global Governance, a sub-Forum of the Forum on Global Governance: the main Forum had speakers like Ban ki Moon, Nobel Prize Joseph Stiglitz, President Danilo Turk or Prime Minister Fukuyama Yasuo.

How does the pandemic impact the competition between the United States and China?

An Issue Brief, by Ambassador Philippe COSTE.  

Tensions between the two competitors are escalating, China’s situation vis-à-vis the United States is likely to strengthen and global governance is even more severely lacking than in the past, calling for more of European contruction. 

Download the French text 

► Not only the two powers which hold in their hands a good part of the fate of the planet show themselves little penetrated by their responsibilities towards multilateral insttutions, but everything happens as if the latter have become the closed field of a struggle for influence between the two superpowers. 

► Nevertheless the appreciation of a China that would have gained a relative advantage needs to be qualified. Before the “mask diplomacy”, the Europeans were divided with regard to China: a little wary but very interested in continuing to do business with this country of cocagne. Since then, the proportions have been reversed: Europeans are still interested in doing business but are clearly more suspicious.  

► It is only more urgent that Europe, mobilizes itself even more energetically to call the world to reason. Obviously, between the disputes over Brexit and those over financial solidarity between countries of the North and the South, and with the overwhelming short-term deadlines which beset European governments, the task is not easy, to say the least. But that is not a reason not to try it, with faith and persistency, as it is the only possible way.

Flattening Curves & Lifting Lockdowns in EUROPE – A better method for estimating infection rates

This paper presents a comparative analysis of the COVID-19 outbreak across ten major European countries. It identifies the best and worst performing countries in flattening the curve and promotes a new statistical method for estimating the ‘reproduction rate’ (known as ‘R0’) to analyse individual countries and specific regions, to better target lock-down or easing of lock-down policies and explore the best, fastest and most secure policies, as we prepare for a possible second wave.

The most important criteria for successfully flattening the curve have been early lockdowns. This has had a determining effect on the “epidemic reproduction rate” R0. There remains a significant divergence between the R0s which European governments are reportedly basing their policy decisions on, and the figures presented in this paper. This means that several European countries may under-estimate the extent to which their infection rates are being curtailed and their outbreaks are under control.

Download the report by clicking here.

FLATTENING THE CURVE – A pan-European comparative analysis of the COVID-19 outbreak

new report published by the Bridge Tank compares the outbreak of COVID-19 across ten major European countries.

This ground-breaking analysis identifies the best and worst performing countries in Europe, and the reasons behind their respective performance in flattening the curve.

Italy, Spain, France, UK, The Netherlands and Belgium are the most severely hit by the outbreak and have struggled to flatten the curve efficiently.

This is mostly explained by the delay in implementing proper lockdown and social distancing measures.

France could soon overtake Italy, and UK is still witnessing an increase of the number of confirmed cases and deaths.

Greece is the best performing country in Europe, followed by Czechia (The Czech Republic) and Romania.

Thanks to early and strict containment measures, they have successfully managed to flatten the curve and slow down the spread of the virus

The contrast between Greece – which suspended public events and closed schools even before the first 100 cases were detected, and Spain – which took similar decisions at a much later stage of the epidemic – is particularly striking.

Germany seems to be an outlier. Though its lockdown measures have been implemented relatively later and not fully, the number of deaths has not reached the levels met by its neighbours but is still progressing quickly in relative terms.

Joel Ruet, Chairman of the Bridge Tank, stated: “In the sea of data about Covid-19, one indicator stands out: the doubling rate of deaths and confirmed cases. It allows to measure how well countries are flattening the curve. With the exception of Germany, we see a strong correlation between an early lockdown and subsequent success in controlling the spread of the virus.

Read and download the report here.

MULTIMEDIA

The Bridge Tank, an independent economic think-tank, is an active member of the T20, the think tank group of the G20. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the members of the Bridge Tank have regularly published on the epidemic and advised numerous governments. The Bridge Tank also mobilised a working group on the future of global health governance to provide recommendations to the UN.

Joel Ruet, Founder and Chairman of The Bridge Tank, is a French economist at CNRS and Ecole Polytechnique. He studied and worked in France, China, India, Senegal and UK. He is a regular commentator on global affairs in international media and speaker at major conferences.

For any media enquiry, please contact: administration@thebridgetank.org

Innovation lunch by The Bridge Tank in Davos

The Bridge Tank organized on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos an international workshop on the theme: “Accelerating the smart city – financing solutions and project governance for emerging markets. “

The bridge tank organised an industry conversation on « accelerating the smart city – financing solutions & project governance for emerging markets », convened by Joel Ruet & our Board Member Pranjal Sharma. The event was the opportunity to exchange on how to Kick-start the Smart cities: How to go from ideas to projects, from projects to returns, from returns to smart cities that work. How can entrepreneurs, companies, investors gear into initiatives that are left free to succeed by the city authorities, for smart cities to no longer mean blueprints but develop and operate as a true industry?

 

Our starting point was that « smart cities » have been on the air for long ; had they picked the magnitude we talked them about, we’d see them everywhere by now. We discussed the evolving funding criteria for smart cities; their ever evolving challenges and meeting them for smart cities funding. 

First of all, contributors reminded the definition issue, ranging from mere energy, food or water conservation to smart and widespread use of data, through new cities, real estate with an ecosystem community including schools for talents, etc. 

The second issue was on governance: how to decide, how to fund them? Which strategies between new cities and modifying existing ones? And how not to forget the smart villages? The Indian rural experience was discussed, on strategies to move from thermal diesel to solar, generalise wifis and digital bank accounts, digital crop data management for fertilizers. 

Some participants from emerging countries were on the position that smartness should be tested in villages and then extended to smart cities; the example of Punjab was mentioned, which started from the district level, then with 3 smart cities in Punjab. IFC’s experience in digitalisation in “Invest in Africa” program was also mentioned as a successful pilot. However, cheap internet through mobile systems isn’t per se making a smart city. The issue of space was mentioned: smartness is not just about digitalization but requires space: in already congested cities this raises serious concerns. 

The issue of public governance and private profitability were mentioned, but we dedicated a large space of our conversation to the issue of enabling citizens: as they become smart, so does the city they live in. “Innovation clusters”, with the Ukrainian example this time, were mentioned in such a spirit of rather looking at what brings people together, not necessarily having to involve the government. 

Last, economic practice were mentioned: not just about introducing technology but also co-living, sharing economy, etc., and, at the end, a more segmented approach for circular economy, between premium / mass segments.

The Bridge Tank’s 2020 Davos – Highlights

As each year, Davos is too hectic to come into a post. Here are, beyond our own organized “Innovation Lunch”, some highlights.

We started with a TV interview on this year’s theme on sustainable environment at the 50th World Economic Forum – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwk5r9PJcPE . The Davos forum of course lags behind on the environment but, despite “We will not save the planet only with companies, but we will not save the planet without companies”.

As last year, The Bridge Tank participated in the 4th Davos Forum on the Silk Roads, / Belt and Road Initiative. A discussion on how to move “from the old globalization that benefits some, to a new globalization focused on the belt and the road that benefits everyone and is of high quality”. Who said Davos is not political ?

On more economic found, the idea was to debate “More international public goods (open to all) than private goods (for shareholders)”.

Last but not least glimpse of this year, we enjoyed the Davos “Open” Forum through an amazing keynote speaker and player: Yo Yo MA.

Unlocking Finance: The Key Factor for Investment on Green Projects in Africa

A significant change in how investors approach green projects is underway. The fight against climate change requires and will require increases in the amount of capital being devoted to green projects. This underlines the importance of mobilizing financial actors from the private sector. Their awareness of this need and on the opportunities these investment give into re-defining the business, is already, for some of them, becoming a reality.

We now have the opportunity to move towards a “decarbonization“ of investment portfolios. For investment to match climate change mitigation goals, we will need concrete moves towards decarbonizing portfolios. The good news is that certain tools exist that can help make green projects more attractive to investors. This policy brief argues for renewed emphasis and action on these points to significantly boost investment. In other words, Africa is open for business.

Read More …

Policy Brief : Soil as Natural Capital: a factor for sustainable diversification

The soil is a living ecosystem that is capable of growth and diversification. It is also a productive capital but the conventional methods and technologies of its exploitation could lead to its destruction. Reversing this paradigm is the basis of a green growth strategy: the soil can become a carbon sink again, and the material and energy it produces can fuel genuinely sustainable industries, especially mobility. As a capital, the soil is not irremediably degraded; Sustainable management of soil capital is hence a priority for sustainable diversification and climate.

Read more in french

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