Event Summary
“Defining a New Global Economy: World Order and Globalization Hub Alumni Conference”

Alumni Conference
© FNF North America

The World Order and Globalization Hub hosted an alumni conference for past study tour participants virtually on December 15 and 16. Beginning at 9AM EST each day, the Hub welcomed participants from countries around the world, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, and Bulgaria.  The conference began with a brief introduction from FNF North America Regional Director Claus Gramckow, who then introduced keynote speaker Professor Dr. Karl-Heinz Paqué, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Professor Dr. Paqué then opened the conference with a keynote address on challenges facing the global economic order. Following Professor Paqué’s remarks, the first panel, titled “The Current State of the World Economy” began, featuring participants from the most recent study tour on the future of the Bretton Woods institutions. Poltak Hotradero of the Indonesia Stock Exchange, and Tanja Porčnik of the Visio Institute in Slovenia, discussed the current economic situations in their respective countries on the panel, which was moderated by Sven Hilgers of the Global Themes Unit.

Major themes of this discussion included assessing the economic recovery from the global pandemic, both in individual countries as well as worldwide. This included discussions on the challenges of vaccine distribution, as well as the numerous challenges that global trade continues to face. Day one of the Conference ended with a “guided networking session” in which participants were split into various Zoom breakout rooms to discuss “Innovating the Digital Economy.” Discussions focused on several topics, including the future of working from home, the employee makeup of the growing gig economy in participants’ countries, and the debate over intellectual property rights and vaccine distribution around the world.

During these discussions, participants were rotated between breakout rooms in order to maximize the opportunity for networking, which also resulted in new, fresh perspectives during each conversation. Each discussion featured robust conversation from the participants, who were quite eager to share their perspectives and offer new ideas to their counterparts.

Day two of the alumni conference began with a brief introduction from Courtney Flynn Martino, the World Order and Globalization Hub Program Manager, which lead into another networking exercise, meant to foster discussion on the Expert Hub’s topics for 2022. In Zoom breakout rooms, the participants discussed the four themes the World Order and Globalization Hub will tackle next year in four different study tours: The rise of China and geo-economic dimensions of globalization, digital currencies, trade-related aspects of climate change, and business of human rights. Like day one, participants were rotated into new breakout rooms for each discussion, which provided them the opportunity to exchange ideas and challenges with new counterparts in each discussion.

With regards to China, several participants noted that this is an increasingly crucial topic for FNF to cover. Aspects of the rise of China that participants wanted to learn more about included China’s investments in Latin America, as well as how China’s rise will impact transatlantic relations. Digital currencies was likewise a popular topic, although several participants noted that they’re not as well-versed on this topic, and were interested in learning more from the World Order and Globalization Hub’s work on this topic. In regards to climate change, the aspects of how to tax carbon-intensive products that are built with products from numerous different countries was a key topic mentioned, as well as how to handle the divide between developed and emerging countries on climate standards. Finally, participants were interested in several aspects of business and human rights, including women’s rights, as well as examining further the link between economic liberalization and civil liberties.

During the second panel of the alumni conference, Filiz Pehlivan of FNP Engineering and Consulting in Turkey and Oscar Rivas of the Nobis Corporation in Mexico discussed “Building an Inclusive Global Order.” Filiz Pehlivan detailed ways to improve the economic situations for women worldwide, while Oscar Rivas discussed ways to improve the economic situation for Latin American countries.

Ms. Pehlivan focused on improving economic opportunities for women, especially for aspiring female entrepreneurs. During her presentation, Ms. Pehlivan proposed several strategies for achieving these goals, including resetting gender norms, countering backlash to gender equality, and fostering democratic inclusion and accountability. For his presentation, Mr. Rivas emphasized how devastating COVID-19 had been for Latin American countries’ economies and healthcare systems. However, he also proposed strategies for improvement, including shifting economies towards digital products and increasing cooperation with international multilateral organizations, while also working to emphasize the benefits of democracy across the region.

Finally, Board of Trustees Member Professor Dr. Thomas Straubhaar closed out the conference with a speech that touched on many of the topics discussed throughout the conference, including creating an economic order that is more inclusive, and how to improve the COVID-19 pandemic response to encourage global economic growth. Dr. Straubhaar also spent a significant amount of time discussing how to prevent the current era of competition between China and the West from resembling the Cold War era. He also touched on how the politics of this new era of competition will look very different from the Cold War, particularly in regards to the transatlantic relationship. As China is much more integrated with the global economy than the USSR was, the economic and political relationships of this new era of competition look much different, and will certainly complicate future strategic decisions.

Overall, the alumni conference featured a variety of past study tour participants from both recent and older tours, who all hailed from geographically diverse locations. This contributed to productive conversations regarding the Hub’s future 2022 topics, as well as the future of the digital economy. The participants also provided the Hub with a variety of angles with which to tackle the upcoming themes of the 2022 study tours.

The World Order and Globalization Hub would like to thank all of the participants for attending the 2021 Alumni Conference, and for their valuable contributions during the various conference discussions. We hope you’ll all stay in touch, and we look forward to hosting our alumni conference in person next year!