Like other parts of the world Central Europe is living through dangerous and uncertain times. Fortunately, opportunities for long-lasting and positive change are all around us. From shifts in the labour market to the development of new sectors for growth, these openings will determine whether our societies can adapt to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, there has also been an eroding of the moral fabric of our communities, with once controversial ideas gaining in acceptance and credibility. This trend must be reversed. Similarly, unscrupulous leaders bent on undermining independent journalism and attacking civil society are harming our modern democracies. These self-interested actors wish to slowly erode the institutions which safeguard societies. Such attacks might also reverse the progress Central Europe has made since the end of the Cold War.

However, all is not bleak. In many arenas civil society and citizens are standing up to these blatant and hidden attacks, showing that the foundations of our democracies are not as flimsy as portrayed. Thanks to advances in technology and innovation a more sustainable future – filled with local solutions and global partners – is no longer a distant hope but a very close reality.

The 13th edition of GLOBSEC 2018 Bratislava Forum once again brought together decision-makers, movers and shakers from academia, business, politics and non-governmental organisations to develop constructive solutions for some of the world’s biggest challenges. For instance, guests and panellists probed for a more complete picture of the advances and difficulties presented by new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. And while participants offered a wealth of practical solutions, many nevertheless conceded that there are no easy answers to today’s problems.

Despite numerous causes for optimism, GLOBSEC 2018 Bratislava Forum also highlighted worrying trends that need to be tackled with sensitivity and caution. These are distributed across the five key streams of discussions at this year’s event: cyber security; defence; energy and sustainability; innovation and technology; and the future of Europe.