26-28 August 2020

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COVID-19 revealed in stark detail how fragmented and uncertain the world has become. The pandemic touched upon every aspect of society, disrupting the way we socialize, work, and govern. Our collective response to the dual health and economic crisis that it caused will impact generations to come.

GLOBSEC has made it an urgent priority to identify emerging Megatrends which will shape the post-COVID world and to create platforms for policymakers, businesses, and thought leaders to chart the best path forward through these challenging times.

In June and July, GLOBSEC experts consulted our network of international stakeholders to crowdsource intelligence on the transformational forces that COVID-19 unleashed. The acceleration of the digital transformation, greater EU internal fragmentation, a more assertive China and changed the balance of global power, infodemic, and public health as a new dimension of security policy, were just some of the Megatrends that emerged from our brainstorming sessions.

GLOBSEC 2020 Digital Stage ConferencesGLOBSEC Digital Stage Virtual Conferences

Now we are convening GLOBSEC Digital Stage, a special 3-day virtual conference in the runup to our flagship GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum to bring this network to the table to discuss the trends they identified and to debate actionable policy recommendations.  

GLOBSEC Digital Stage will be held virtually, allowing participants from all over the world to engage in these important discussions. GLOBSEC has partnered with XLAB Realtime to ensure high-quality production and immersive live streaming experience. The virtual conference will feature more than 50 speakers, including breakout sessions with renowned guests.

GLOBSEC Digital Stage August 26th-28th 2020 

  • Livestreaming
  • 3D Virtual Studio
  • Virtual Networking
  • Virtual Green Room
  • International Media Coverage

Preliminary Agenda

(as of 26 August 2020) 

All times are Central European Summer Time (UTC+2) 

Day 1 – Wednesday, 26 August

Read the recap of Day 1 here

14:55 – 15:00 Official Welcome 

Robert Vass, President, GLOBSEC, Bratislava

15:00 – 15:45 The World After COVID-19 

In the early days of 2020, the world woke up into a totally changed reality – that of the global pandemic paralysing production chains, transport networks, the social life of communities and individuals, casting a great shadow of uncertainty on further development and growth. The post-COVID world emerging from the crisis calls for an urgent need to devise new models of functioning for society, economy and politics. GLOBSEC has made it an urgent priority to identify emerging Megatrends which will shape the post-COVID world and to create platforms for policymakers, businesses, and thought leaders to chart the best path forward through these challenging times. What are the main trends that are already shaping our future? How can we shape policy solutions reflecting the new circumstances? 

H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia 

Robert Kaplan, Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics, Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia 

Led by Ali Aslan, TV Presenter & Journalist, Berlin

16:00 – 16:45 Strengthening Transatlantic Cooperation in Times of Upheaval 

Recent disagreements have revealed a lack of common understanding among the transatlantic community and a clear way forward through several important policy domains including digital economy, trade, and security. At the same time, heightened geopolitical concerns over a revanchist Russia and a more assertive China have given renewed impetus to the importance of US-EU cooperation. These challenges necessitate closer transatlantic coordination. In this context, what can be done to reduce trade tensions and work towards common security and economic policies that benefit all partners? How can we reinvigorate the transatlantic relationship at this important conjuncture? Which policy areas need the most immediate attention? How can we ensure that transatlantic values are safeguarded against increasingly self-assured systemic rivals?

H.E. Ivan Korčok, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic 

Amb. Philip T. Reeker, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State 

Led by Steve Clemons, Editor at Large, The Hill, Washington, D.C.

17:00 – 17:45 Trend: Disruption as Central Europe’s Accelerator for Deep Economic Overhaul 

The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated Central Europe’s pre-existing condition: the need to overhaul its outdated growth narrative. What is more, EU leadership has shown commitment to finance such structural overhaul through the recently sealed EU Recovery & Resilience Facility, provided countries put forth sensible national strategies by mid-October. What are some lessons from the coronavirus crisis for the design and functioning of the Central European economy?  Should governments react to the health, economic, and trade crises by turning inward, or should they help strengthen international networks, supply chain management, reactivity, and agility? What are the key structural areas the reform strategy should treat in Central Europe? How should the region go about upgrading its existing engines of growth, to develop capabilities in and move up to higher value-added functions? Can the bid to host strategic production reshored from China be helpful in this respect? How should the region go about diversifying its economy? How can policy environment enable resilient and robust local economy and prop up an innovation ecosystem?

Dragoș Pîslaru, Member, Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs & Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, European Parliament, Brussels 

László Andor, Secretary-General, Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Brussels 

Alexander Resch, Chief Executive Officer, VÚB Bank, Bratislava 

Soňa Muzikárová, Chief Economist, GLOBSEC, Bratislava 

Led by Lili Bayer, Reporter, POLITICO, Brussels

18:00 – 18:45 Trend: Infodemic’s Disinformation Revenues as Million Dollar Business 

Placing advertisements on webpages actively disseminating disinformation and conspiracy theories not only gives an air of legitimacy to dubious outlets, but it also keeps the economies of disinformation worth tens of millions of dollars growing and expanding. The Global Disinformation Index estimates that 25 million USD will unwittingly go to funding all kinds of COVID-19 conspiracies and disinformation disseminating outlets in 2020 alone. As is clear, this type of disinformation is incredibly dangerous. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the extent of the problem as well as its potential to kill. How do we disrupt economies of disinformation and contribute to a healthier information environment? How do we stop the spread of disinformation, hate and the polarization of our society for profit?

Vladimír Bilčík, Member, Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, European Parliament, Brussels 

Rand Waltzman, Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Senior Information Scientist, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica 

Clare Melford, Co-Founder & Executive Director, The Global Disinformation Index, London 

Led by Katarína Klingová, Senior Research Fellow, Democracy & Resilience, GLOBSEC, Bratislava

19:00 – 19:45 Crafting a Transatlantic Response to the Challenge of Belarus organised in partnership with the Atlantic Council 

Belarusians have captivated the world with their unprecedented and inspiring social and political mobilisation. The peaceful defiance intensified over the summer and culminated with a mass demonstration following disputed elections and a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters. But Alexander Lukashenko has no intention of resigning any time soon. Instead, he has regrouped and launched a wear-and-tear campaign with new propaganda, intimidation and arrests, and even bullets aimed at peaceful protesters, who he dubbed ‘fleeing rats’. 

The question for many now is what’s next? Belarusians have already demonstrated immense courage and resolve. The international community is yet to consolidate its response to the events happening in the country though. What role could the EU and US play? What would a coordinated response to the challenge of Belarus look like? Is there a shared transatlantic approach towards addressing authoritarianism in the world and the European neighbourhood specifically?

Amb. Michael Siebert, Director for Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin 

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin 

Amb. Daniel Fried, Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. 

Led by Alena Kudzko, Director, GLOBSEC Policy Institute, Bratislava

Read the recap of Day 1 here

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Day 2 – Thursday, 27 August

Read the recap of Day 2 here

13:3014:45 Trend: China’s Continued Rise vs America’s Relative Decline 

China’s Belt and Road is far more than a series of infrastructure investments, it is a political-economic project that has far-reaching implications for the restructuring of world order around Chinese interests. It is a project that will likely span several decades into the future and bring with it immense changes to the structure of the global economy, especially as China continues to vie for primacy in global value chains. To some extent, the world must accommodate China’s desire to become a global superpower, and indeed may stand to benefit from it, but this raises important questions: To what extent is China’s Belt and Road project compatible with the existing liberal global order, and to what extent is it challenging it?  What level of Chinese political and economic influence would be acceptable to the West? How has COVID19 either benefited or detracted from China’s growing influence in global politics? 

Opening chat with Hon. Kevin Rudd, President, Asia Society Policy Institute, New York 

Interviewed by Bradley Jardine, Schwarzman Fellow, Wilson Center, Glasgow

Andrew Small, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin 

Bradley Jardine, Schwarzman Fellow, Wilson Center, Glasgow 

Zhang Lihua, Resident Scholar, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, Beijing 

Led by Alena Kudzko, Director, GLOBSEC Policy Institute, Bratislava

15:0015:45 Trend: AI Will Enable A Sustainable Future 

As the world faces climate change and loss of biodiversity, we need to make the most of emerging technologies to help us tackle this. AI and other novel digital approaches have the potential to decouple economic growth from rising carbon emissions and accelerate a market change towards clean energy. AI can be harnessed in a wide range of economic sectors to contribute to managing environmental impacts and climate change. Applications can include precision agriculture, sustainable supply chains, environmental monitoring, enhanced weather and disaster prediction and response. With the environmental applications for artificial intelligence broadening, how might AI influence economic growth and the global ambition to reduce emissions in years to come?

Inès Leonarduzzi, Chief Executive Officer, Digital for the Planet, Paris 

Edward Zhou, Vice President of Global Government Affairs, Huawei, Shenzhen 

Jacques Bughin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer MachaonAdvisory, Brussels 

Led by Eline Chivot, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Data Innovation, Brussels

16:0016:45 Trend: Greater European Strategic Autonomy 

The EU’s defence ambitions have been elevated amid increased great power competition and global instability. The emphasis on freedom of manoeuvring and strategic autonomy is driving the argument forward, as many see European defence cooperation as a key strategic objective in enhancing Europe’s geopolitical stance. However, this level of ambition has failed to be met by sufficient funding, with only 7.5bn Eur allocated to the new EDF flagship initiative and another 1.5bn Eur dedicated to military mobility in the new MFF. PESCO seems to be also under scrutiny, as more experts call for greater prioritisation. Key challenges about the EU-NATO defence cooperation, the UK’s participation in European defence capabilities, as well as the credibility of its operational dimension remain at the forefront of the EU’s defence strategy. 

Gen. Claudio Graziano, Chairman, European Union Military Committee, Brussels 

Nathalie Loiseau, Chair, Subcommittee on Security and Defence, European Parliament, Brussels 

Carl Bildt, Co-Chair, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin 

Gen. (Ret.) Knud Bartels, Former Chair, NATO Military Committee, Copenhagen 

Led by Kai Küstner, Correspondent, ARD Broadcasting, Berlin

17:0017:45Hot Topic: Update on IsraelUAE Relations 

The normalisation of relations between UAE and Israel is a ground-breaking moment in Middle Eastern politics, paving the way for other Gulf countries to potentially follow. The question is to what extent this brokered agreement affords an opportunity for a reset with regards to the Gulf States and Israel and how it might impact the Palestinians unresolved territorial disputes with Israeli settlers in the West Bank. While the agreement has been widely celebrated as a success in Washington, the Palestinians have largely viewed the UAE’s decision as a sort of betrayal of their interests. It is also a potentially risky move on the part of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has recently relied on ultraconservative forces within Israel to hold onto his position as Israel’s Prime Minister. What ramifications will the deal have for Palestinian-Israeli Relations? How might it impact the geopolitics of the wider region? Which countries are likely to follow suit and what does the agreement mean for the countries involved?

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, Founder and President, Emirates Policy Center, Abu Dhabi 

Amos Yadlin, Executive Director, Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv 

Led by Sylvia Tiryaki, Associate Fellow, GLOBSEC, Bratislava

17:5018:10 Hot Topic: Update on Lebanon 

The Beirut Port explosion sent an already restless nation pouring into the streets to demand accountability and change. The tragedy killed more than 200 people and wounded thousands, leaving a city in ruin and a nation mourning. The explosion was caused, in large part, by widespread corruption, abuse of power, and decades of neglect. It came in the midst of a crippling economic crisis that had already left many Lebanese destitute and yearning for change. The uprisings that followed shook Lebanon’s political establishment to the core, leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and the promise of early elections and a change of government. It also reignited the debate in Lebanon about Hezbollah’s role and military power and involvement in regional conflicts. Given the country’s recent political deadlock, how likely is it that fresh elections will result in the formation of a government more attentive to the needs of its citizens? How should the international community respond to this crisis to help ensure a smooth transition of power and the resources the country needs to rebuild? How might the political fallout of the tragedy impact the region beyond Lebanon’s borders?

Ayman Mhanna, Executive Director, Samir Kassir Foundation, Beirut 

Interviewed by Rym Momtaz, Contributor, POLITICO, Paris

18:1519:00 Trend: Countering Terrorism in Virtual and Decentralised Space 

In the past two decades, information technology has transformed our society. The internet, mobile phones, and social networking platforms have fundamentally changed the way states, groups and individuals interact. Governments have already had experiences dealing with security issues revolving around darknet – an encrypted and anonymous space. But what lessons from tackling cybercrime are there to be learnt for the specific domain of cyber terrorism? What norms need to be created and how in order to do it transparently and with citizens’ consent? Understanding how these new technologies have and will shape terrorist organisations, their tactics and strategies is central to understanding the evolution of terrorism in the next decade. 

Liisa Past, Chief National Cyber Risk Officer, National Security and Defence Coordination Unit at Government Office of the Republic of Estonia, Tallinn 

Neil Walsh, Chief, Cybercrime, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism. Department, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna 

Hon. Michael Chertoff, Chairman & Co-Founder, The Chertoff Group, Washington, D.C. 

Ali Soufan, Chairman & CEO, The Soufan Group, New York 

Led by Kimberly Dozier, TIME Magazine Contributor & CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Washington, D.C.

19:00 – 19:03 Presentation of the CRAAFT project 

A common effort between GLOBSEC, RUSI Europe, the ICCT and the University of Amsterdam project CRAAFT is an academic research and community-building initiative designed to build stronger, more coordinated counter-terrorist financing (CTF) capacity across the EU and in its neighbourhood. The project engages with authorities and private entities in order to promote cross-border connectivity and targeted research. The consortium’s research agenda focuses on lone-actor and small-cell terrorist financing, the impact of new payment and social media technologies on terrorist financing and CTF, the crime-terror nexus, smuggling of small arms and light weapons as a TF method, the ethical and political considerations of public-private partnerships, and CTF capacities of EU candidate countries. 

Kinga Redlowska, Project Manager, Royal United Services Institute, Brussels 

19:15 20:00 Trend: Automation Will Reshape the Workforce of Tomorrow 

According to the Brookings Institute report from 2019, automation could disrupt 25% of the workforce — about 36 million jobs. AI, automation, and robotics will make the transformation of the workforce shift as significant as the mechanisation in prior generations of agriculture and manufacturing. While some jobs will be lost, and many others created, almost all will change. What implications do these changes have for policymakers in the EU and Central Europe, where the industrial fabric is making the region prone to be significantly affected by automation? 

Nikolay Stoyanov, Policy OfficerFuture of Work, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, European Commission, Brussels 

Geertrui Mieke De Ketelaere, Program Director AI, Imec, Brussels 

Pavel Mik, Manager of Robotics in Eastern Europe, ABB, Bratislava 

David Timis, Outgoing Curator, Brussels Global Shapers Hub, Brussels 

Led by Zuzana Pisoň, Research Fellow for Technology and Society Programme, GLOBSEC, Bratislava

Read the recap of Day 2 here

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Day 3 – Friday, August 28

Read the recap of Day 3 here

13:0013:45 Trend: Resilience is the New Asset in the Post-COVID-19 World 

Security concerns are no longer of a simple military nature, but now contain everything from economic competition, strategic infrastructure, communications and transport links, to adequate food and water supplies, and the ability to surge medical treatment facilities and medical production in case of emergencies. The COVID19 pandemic served as an awakening call to reconsider our over-reliance on global ‘just in time’ delivery supply chains and ensure that we are able to absorb, respond and recover from strategic shocks without dramatic consequences. In the period to come the notion and understanding of resilience will be reconceptualised. Countries and regions will be measured against their level of preparedness, risk and disruption mitigation strategies, and ability to function when hazard hits. Some actors will also begin using resilience as a premium feature or new currency to attract economic investment and political capital.

Philippe MazeSencier, Global Chair, Public Affairs, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Brussels 

Maithreyi Seetharaman, Founder, Facultas Media Limited, London 

Joshua Polchar, Strategic Foresight Unit, Office of the Secretary-General, OECD, Paris 

David Earnshaw, Associate Vice President for Public Policy Europe and Canada, Merck Sharp & Dohme Europe, Tisselt  

Led by Alex Martin, Head of Brussels Office, GLOBSEC, Brussels

14:0014:45 Trend: A More Geopolitical EU Amid Growing Instability in the Neighbourhood 

The pandemic has intensified the debates on the need of European sovereignty and geopolitical ambition, which had been previously cheered by only a few European capitals. The new EU Commission has also been vocal in promoting a Stronger Europe in the World and the need to “learn the language of power”. Can the launch of the new political cycle which coincided with the current “most challenging crisis since the Second World War” become a catalyst for EU geopolitical ambitions? And if the EU aspires to become a global player, is it ready to start projecting its power in the immediate neighbourhood (Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans)? How can we assure the alignment of the EU and the US efforts in stabilising the EU’s neighbourhood? 

Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General, Regional Cooperation Council, Sarajevo 

Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General, DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, Brussels 

Roland Freudenstein, Policy Director, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, Brussels 

Jakub Wiśniewski, Vice President for Strategy, GLOBSEC, Bratislava 

Led by Tim Judah, Journalist & Correspondent, The Economist, London

15:0015:45 Trend: Pushing Back Against State Capture 

Thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe finds itself in a renewed struggle for democracy. Today’s struggle is not ideological, but a real-world competition between liberal democratic institutions and the forces of a corrupt oligarchy. To what extent does state capture undermine the security of the region? How can civil society best push back against the increasing tendency of politicians to use their office to concentrate political and economic power for their personal advantage? 

Maia Sandu, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova 

Brian Whitmore, Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis, Washington, D.C. 

Nino Evgenidze, Executive Director, Economic Policy Research Center, Tbilisi 

Led by Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, Washington, D.C.

16:0016:45 Trend: Rising Divisions Will Change the Face of Democracy 

The democratic system, originally defined as the “government of people”, is often regarded as underdelivering. The gap between the expectations and reality is complemented with widening income inequality, economic and political uncertainty and continuous attempts to undermine democratic processes and institutions. As recent years’ polls from GLOBSEC and Pew Research Center demonstrate, the support for democracy remains fragile while the dissatisfaction with the system is thriving. How shall we overcome the systemic challenges, especially in countries with leaders undermining key democratic processes? Is there a space to take a step back to redefine the rules of the game?

Christopher Walker, Vice President for Studies and Analysis, National Endowment for Democracy, Washington, D.C. 

Laura Silver, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. 

Joanna Rohozińska, Resident Program Director Europe, International Republican Institute, Brussels 

Led by Dominika Hajdu, Research Fellow, Democracy & Resilience, GLOBSEC, Bratislava

17:0017:45 Trend: A More Fragmented EU 

The COVID19 pandemic has changed the EU in the ways that were unimaginable just a few months ago. The deal on the EU Recovery Package and next MFF has the potential to redraw the way the European Union operates, especially in times of crisis. However, if not handled carefully, it can undermine the bloc unity, poisoning relations between its leaders in ways that could ultimately do much more harm than good. What is the probability that “temporary” and “exceptional” Recovery Fund — keywords that were necessary to build – (not) stay with us longer? What does economic recovery look like for Europe? What are the long-term economic costs of the current crisis?  Can the EU reconcile the varying levels of ambition present within an ever larger and less homogeneous EU, preserve the EU’s unity and still play an important role on the global stage?  Can flexible modes of cooperation save or put the European project in a danger?

Michal Šimečka, Member, Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, European Parliament, Brussels 

Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute, Brussels 

Stefan Lehne, Visiting Scholar, Carnegie Europe, Brussels 

Kinga Brudzińska, Future of Europe Programme Director, GLOBSEC, Bratislava 

Led by Steven Erlanger, Chief Diplomatic Correspondent in Europe, The New York Times, Brussels

18:0018:30 The Future of Mars Exploration: A Mission of Perseverance and Ingenuity 

The Mars 2020 Mission sets the stage for Mars Sample return and continues NASA’s exploration of the red planet. Dr Sengupta will discuss the scientific goals and unique technology challenges that will bring humanity closer to setting foot on the surface of Mars than ever before. 

A Talk by Anita Sengupta, Aerospace Engineer and Entrepreneur, Los Angeles 

Followed by a Q&As session led by Alex Martin, Head of Brussels Office, GLOBSEC, Brussels 

18:40 – 19:00 Hot Topic: Update on Belarus 

Europe’s ‘Last Dictator,’ Alexander Lukashenko, is confronting the largest popular uprisings against his rule since he took power 26 years ago.  Tens of thousands of protestors have gathered all over the country to angrily protest the results of the election which are largely considered to have been rigged in Lukashenko’s favour. For the first time in decades, Lukashenko’s grip on power seems tenuous at best, but forces loyal to the president have begun accusing protestors of attempting a coup and have started to look to Russia for outside help. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition candidate whose campaign generated an unexpected groundswell of popular support, has angrily denied these accusations while calling on people to join the protests and for the government to release all political prisoners. Given the fact that the situation is still unravelling, what are some of the possible outcomes? How might European leaders help persuade Lukashenko to accept outside election observers? What are the chances that Russia will come to Lukashenko’s aid, and how might this effect the wider region? How likely is it that the opposition can rally around a set of clear demands and continue the momentum? 

A fireside chay with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Main Opposition Candidate in the 2020 Belarus Presidential Election, Minsk

Led by Terry Martin, Senior Anchor, Deutsche Welle News, Berlin

Read the recap of Day 3 here

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