On 19 May 2018, the Astana Economic Forum, in its new form as the Global Challenges Summit, came to a close. New agendas and a revised format of events allowed the worldwide expert community to join together in search of solutions to the global challenges standing before all of humanity.

Global leaders, experts from around the world, politicians, economists, businesspeople, and world-famous cultural figures all took part in the Forum. Over just two days, 6120 people visited the event, including 1147 foreign delegates from 101 countries. The events were covered by more than 1000 representatives from media outlets, 120 of whom were international. All 75 events of the business programme were dedicated to the discussion of the planet’s main challenges: from resource sustainability and super-longevity to global security and the structure of the future’s mega-cities.

On 17 May, the opening day of the Forum, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev contributed. At the opening plenary session, entitled “The World of Global Challenges,” the Head of Government delivered an address to participants. Highlighting the growing tension and new global transformations of contemporary civilisation, Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined five main mega-trends of global growth: the digitalisation of all aspects of human activity, the energy revolution, the fast growth of the global population, the changing speed and character of urbanisation, and also the global labour market.

Ban Ki-Moon highly praised Kazakhstan’s efforts and President Nursultan Nazarbayev in particular for providing for both global and regional security, and noted the productive nature of Kazakhstan’s participation in the UN Security Council. The Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia announced, “I’m very glad to visit Kazakhstan for the first time in my new role. There are many global challenges which I am ready to provide my support in solving. The Astana Economic Forum has become an important platform for discussion not just of current and relevant topics, but questions of future global development as well.” François Hollande underscored the contributions of the President of Kazakhstan in the strengthening of global ties. Steve Wozniak thanked the President of Kazakhstan for the opportunity to take part in such an esteemed event and to share his opinion regarding global challenges.

The second day of the Forum began with a speech by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Bakytzhan Sagintayev, at the plenary session, “The World of Global Strategy.” The event’s key speakers were Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Oleg Novalchuk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kaz Minerals; Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer of the SENS Foundation; and Alan Wolff, Deputy Director General of the WTO. Hans-Paul Bürkner, Chairman of the Boston Consulting Group, moderated the meeting. The speakers discussed best practices of change in business and the development of cities, countries, and continents in response to the challenges of the present day as the consequences of rapid technological development, unavoidable changes in traditional mutual relations, the development of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, and total urbanisation.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev presented on reforms in the country in connection with the third modernisation of Kazakhstan. Bolstered by the success of EXPO 2017, “Future Energy,” in Astana, Kazakhstan announced a massive modernisation programme with the goal of joining the world’s 30 strongest economies, based on breakthroughs in innovative development, the realisation of bold institutional reforms, and expanded international integration. The updated AEF 2018 Global Challenges Summit became a continuation of Kazakhstan’s international integration and strengthening of the country’s position in the region. The speakers at the Forum highly praised Kazakhstan’s strategies for adaptation to changes in the quickly-changed global world and the country’s role in the development of the Central Asian region.
In his speech, Lord Francis Maude, Minister of Trade for the United Kingdom, noted in his speech, “Kazakhstan has every opportunity to attract foreign investment: the required resources, human capital, and stable politics. Moreover, the financial centre works on the basis of English law. This means that investors can invest their money without worry.”

One of the key global trends discussed at the AEF 2018 Global Challenges Summit was the green economy. At panel sessions, experts from around the world discussed the most critical issues in redirecting the Kazakh economy onto a “greener” path, shared global practices and underlying trends in creating the green economy of the future, and presented opportunities for programmes to support green technologies from leading international development institutes. The central discussion of the block, “Principles of Green Growth: Barriers, Stimuli, and Instruments of Growth” was cooperation amongst Asia and African countries in the fields of environmental innovation, the beginning of a new wave of technology, the creation of a stimulating base of environmental law and investment climate for green projects capable of providing for the growth of Central Asian countries until 2030. As part of the panel discussion entitled “The Green Economy: A New Model for Sustainable Development,” there was a presentation from the International Green Technological and Investments Centre with Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev.

On 19 May, for the first time as part of AEF, a strategic session was held with international experts, representatives from the executive branch of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and leading Kazakh experts. At the opening of the session, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev noted that the strategic session is collecting conclusions, proposals, and recommendations from the discussions held and will choose the ones that are useful both for the country’s Government and for the efficient functioning of state services.
Based on the results of the discussions, moderators of the working groups presented their brainstorm results on the following subjects: institutions and economic policy, human capital, digitalisation and IT, new money and the financial sector, and the development of cities. The package of proposals was titled “Top Necessary Solutions and Development Projects for the Republic of Kazakhstan.” The brainstorms conducted will help find approaches and proposals which will help Kazakhstan grow in the future, while being accepted by the global community as options for responding to global challenges.
In keeping with the new format of the efficient platform for dialogue of the Global Challenges Summit, on 17 and 18 May at locations at Nazarbayev University and the Gumilyov Eurasian National University, there was a unique cycle of conversations between the Forum’s leading speakers and Kazakhstan’s talented and intelligent youth about key global challenges and their influence on the life strategies of those beginning their professional lives – all for the first time in the history of the AEF. The organisation’s experience showed a high need for such a discussion format and the deep interest of Kazakhstan’s youth in the international congress’ intellectual resources. Lecture recordings will be used to create the Digital University of the AEF 2018 Global Challenges Summit after the forum, whose materials will be available in Kazakh and Russian.

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