ASTANA – Some 5,000 delegates from 80 countries began arriving on Wednesday in Kazakhstan’s capital to take part in the XI annual Astana Economic Forum (AEF) May 17-19 to discuss and debate global economic tendencies in the hope of coming up with a roadmap to sustainable development.
Billed as the Global Challenges Summit, some 450 politicians, scientists, economists, journalists and other professionals from 24 nations are slated to speak at nearly 100 panel sessions and roundtables on Thursday and Friday and then huddle for closed-door talks on Saturday.
Speakers at the two venues, the Expo Congress Center and the Hilton Astana, include: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Former French President François Hollande, Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Michio Kaku, Physicist and Futurist and Jim O’Neil, Former Chief Economist Goldman Sachs and creator of the BRICS acronym.
The Deputy Chairman of the AEF organizing committee and Kazakhstan’s Minister of National Economy, Timur Suleimenov, said the Global Challenges Summit is to become a key element of the Central Asian nation’s strategic decision-making process.
“The most important goal of the AEF this year is to provide the expert community, the technological elite, government officials, visionaries and leaders of large corporations with a platform for searching for meaningful answers and decisions on a global scale,” Suleimenov said.
Kazakhstan’s Institute for Strategic Studies’ Deputy Director, Sanat Kushkumbayev, said discussions at the AEF will aid Kazakh experts and politicians to map out the country’s national development strategy for the years to come.
“Countries that focus on natural resources exports and low-paid manpower are becoming less and less competitive. That is exactly why we need to develop an innovative, knowledge-based economy, technologies, etc. This is the goal of such forums.”
Eleven global themes are up for discussion at the forum: Unified Economy, Global Strategy, Urbanization, Sustainability, Clean Energy, Singularity, Digital World, Future of Money, Global Security, A New Mankind and Longevity.
Organizers said that a new Central Asian trading policy agenda is to be proposed at the AEF in a bid to bolster trade in the region.
Kazakhstan will be making use of the knowledge and expertise of the participants to help it come up with new catalysts for stimulating business activity, a key proponent of its 2050 Strategy, which is a blueprint to place the country among the world’s top 30 economies by the middle of the century.
Organizers of the forum said more than 50,000 delegates from 150 countries have attended the forum, including 20 Nobel Prize winners, over the past decade.
More than 300 memoranda and agreements totaling $20 billion have been signed during the gatherings.