This year the programme structure of the event will be changed: Where previously the programme was split up into separate parts, e.g. business/politics/health symposia, the programme now will include discussions on Europe’s great challenges across sectors and disciplines every day, spread evenly across the entire programme – along the thematic tracks The Climate Opportunity, Securing Europe's Future in a Globalised World, The Financing of Europe’s Future and this year’s new track The Future of Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe.
The two weeks of the European Forum Alpbach, 21 August to 2 September, will differ as follows: During the first one, the so-called Conference Week, there will be a varied range of compact formats, such as lectures, plenary events, workshops and hikes, but also, of course, lots of opportunities for networking and sharing ideas. The focus on agenda setting and business networking will be particularly appealing to people from German-speaking countries (DACH region). While the conference language is English, individual formats may also be held in German. Insider tip: Those who appreciate such a wide range of activities will find that the period from Monday (22 August) to Thursday (25 August) will best suit their preferences. Tech fans will get their money’s worth from Thursday to Saturday, during which time there will be a special focus on technology.
During the second week, the Lab Week, we will be exploring matters in further depth. In small groups composed of international participants, innovative formats will be employed in which we will delve into the key questions raised during the first week. In the context of retreats lasting several days, we will be working with international stakeholders on selected topics, and developing ideas and solutions for Europe’s future. Open, creative formats provide the opportunity to share ideas; plenary events round off the day’s schedule. Recommendation: Plan a three-day stay! (Sunday to Tuesday or Wednesday to Friday)
In order to better integrate scholarship holders and their views into the overall programme, the Alpbach Seminars (previously referred to as Seminar Week) will be incorporated into the programme of the entire 14-day event. This, too, is in line with the Forum’s founding principle: to strengthen Europe by engaging in cross-generational dialogue.
Tickets can be purchased in five modules from the end of May.
The increasingly complex geopolitical situation in which Europe has to position itself requires the development of a European response that is capable of effectively addressing current challenges and anticipate future threats while preserving its inherent values and principles. We will look at challenges for Europe's security situation, examine the answers presented by key actors and create a framework for the development of new and innovative ideas for a secure Europe in a globalised world.
Europe is currently facing a number of security challenges. While unresolved conflicts are persisting, the speed of global changes and concurrent geopolitical shifts as well as the complexity of crises and threats seem to be increasing. “Europe is in danger: we need to operate in an increasingly competitive strategic environment”, writes the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in the foreword of the new “Strategic Compass for the EU”. The Strategic Compass is supposed to present “a common European answer” to a world that is becoming more challenging to European interests and values.
The next step in the discussion will be to define the role of Europe and especially of the EU as key player in a global security context. For a long time, the debate regarding the EU's approach towards foreign and security policy was dominated by preventive and civilian crisis management. With closer cooperation among European partners, uncertainties in transatlantic cooperation, and the emergence of more complex threats with direct effect on the European community, the EU’s approach has been shifting in recent years toward the establishment of additional tasks and the development of new capabilities.
Against this background, the question arises as to whether and how a value-based foreign and security policy can be linked to the protection of Europe's own interests and what this implies for Europe's future. More specifically, how can the approach that is the very essence of a European response be translated into action in this era of uncertainty?
Within the framework of the European Forum Alpbach, we want to examine the future shape of a European response on the basis of selected central topics and review the responses that the EU and other central actors are currently showing. In doing so, we will ask whether the demands that Europe places on itself are currently being met and what a sustainable perspective on central challenges might look like. We want to offer space for the development of new ideas and contribute to a secure future for Europe by exchanging different perspectives.
At the core of the climate crisis stands a set of opportunities that will allow for systemic change, transformative solutions and innovation. The Climate Opportunity Track will reflect on how to accelerate the transition towards carbon-neutrality through new economic thinking, leadership transformation, the empowerment and engagement of everyone, and last, but not least strategic climate finance. In light of currently fast-shifting geo-political realities in Europe, the interplay of the climate crisis and geopolitics becomes apparent. Europe has a unique opportunity to shape the social and political transformative process towards a sustainable present and future and we are eager to support this process by providing the space and spirit in Alpbach 2022.
Recognise the problem. Identify the opportunities. Instill change.
The climate crisis has become an undeniable reality, posing a complex set of challenges. Loss of biodiversity, increasingly frequent extreme weather events and increased pollution levels are only some of the examples of how we are reaching our planetary boundaries at even greater speed than once anticipated. At the core of the climate crisis stands a set of opportunities that will allow for systemic change, transformative solutions and innovation.
Our economic systems and practices have allowed for rapid growth with little regards to the environment even though “more than half of the world’s total GDP is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services” (WEF2020). How can we redefine our economic activities and put nature centerstage? What models for post-carbon economies do we have and which are viable? Will Europe be able to strengthen and even solidify its role in the world by turning business carbon-neutral by 2030?
Capitalising on opportunities and realising change needs adequate leadership. The current pandemic shows both the limitations of current democratic structures and the shaken foundation of credibility, accountability and trust in Europe and the world. What lessons can we draw from the current crisis and better prepare leadership for the climate crisis? What leadership models can be successfully implemented, allowing for a just and inclusive transition? What role can Europe play in the search/definition of global climate leadership?
The role of people is significant in the green transformation, in the establishment of a “Klimakultur”. How can we mobilise people behind climate action? How can we make the climate crisis everyone’s business? We must not only change how we educate on the climate crisis, but also how to communicate about it in order to (a) give ownership to everyone of us while ensuring that everyone understands the status quo and the opportunities of a carbon-neutral future and the shortcomings of a carbon-intensive future.
Efforts will only succeed if the necessary funding is relocated to climate action. This transformation is complex as it requires a significant reallocation of existing private and public investments alongside new green investment strategies. Europe could not only become a frontrunner in green investment, but also “export” climate action to strategic partners through targeted climate finance.
In light of the current geopolitical realities on the ground, the interdependencies between the climate crisis and geopolitics become apparent. The dependency of Europe on Russian gas might further Europe’s attempt to diversify its energy sources and make the necessary transformation and financial investment in renewable energy sources. The current crisis might also spark more support and alignment with a common European energy policy. What will define a green future for Europe – geopolitical consideration over climate target or the possible risking of Europe’s strong standing in the world.
At the European Forum Alpbach 2022 we will dive into the opportunities for systemic change and through our programme identify transformative solutions. This will allow us to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutrality and empower and engage everyone around climate action. It is time now that Europe has the opportunity to become a real leader when it comes to tackling not only the threats but also opportunities of the ongoing climate crisis.
Europe’s impressive post world war success story has come to a halt during the last 20 years. The reasons for that are manyfold. The “Financing Europe’s Future” Track at the European Forum Alpbach 2022, addresses some of the major economic and financial consequences of this unfortunate development. However, in the activist spirit of Alpbach, we will also examine opportunities to revive the European story within the digital economy of the 21st century and discuss opportunities with key stakeholders on how to further develop Europe into a vibrant capital market.
For more than half a century after WWII, an unprecedented political, economic and social success story took place within Europe: developing the largest consumer and export markets in the world, as well as socially balanced societies in large parts of the continent.
Although the Europe of today is still an enviable place to live, it has lost its leading position, the common market started to shrink, and social imbalances are on the rise. The digitalisation of all parts of the economy is a huge challenge for European companies. Europe seems to lack the drive to innovation and the entrepreneurial culture seen in the US and China. Europe’s economies were world leaders in the production of industrial goods by well established companies, but they are steadily falling behind when it comes to financing and growing companies based on research and intellectual property. Europe’s capital markets are fragmented and ill prepared to deal with the rapid rise of the de-materialised economy.
New technologies driven mainly by non-European companies are threatening many business models of European companies, especially in the “Mittelstand” – the backbone of the European economy. Companies which are able to monetarise new, digital business models are rapidly generating wealth while traditional business models have become less profitable.
However, while the clock is ticking, the game is far from over. The opportunity to make Europe an integral part of the digital economy of the 21st century is still alive and well – if the right steps towards more integrated financial markets are taken and a more positive view of entrepreneurship can be found. Investment needs to be directed towards green and digital growth and impact investment needs to be making its mark.
This track brings together some of the best thinkers and doers to develop suggestions and solutions for a revival of the European success story.
The "Democracy and Rule of Law" track of the European Forum Alpbach 2022 will deal with the urgent issues we face today on a substantive, structural and procedural level: the rise of populism and authoritarian politics, the failure to deliver on the promise of social advancement, the citizens' loss of trust in representative democracy and - reinforced by the corona pandemic – a deep distrust in established media, institutional science and information channels. Against this backdrop, Alpbach offers a place for well-founded, experimental, and interdisciplinary discussions and debates on the topics #defendopensociety #bettergovernance #howtoparticipate and #(dis)informed.
The rise of parliamentary democracy and the establishing of the rule of law, a social market economy and a democratic culture in Western Europe since the 50ies was the model of success not only on the continent, but also for other regions in the world. It was a warranty for economic wealth and social stability, until the consequences of a globalised market and the effects of unregulated growth and associated inequalities became visible even in stable European democracies.
Although the global triumph of democracy still seems unhindered today, empirical studies show that, paradoxically, citizens in established democracies take an extremely critical stance towards democracy. This is because citizens are disillusioned and disenchanted with their actual ability to influence political decisions and their upward mobility (socioeconomic) opportunities. This plays into the hands of populist rulers and favors the propagation of authoritarianism and the spread of facade or sham democracies inside and outside Europe.
Accelerated through a segmented, polarised and emotional discourse as result of a rapidly shifting media landscape, democratic structures within the EU decline and the democratic culture rapidly erodes. Currently, several liberal democracies, in and outside the EU, are struggling with massive problems such as
1) the rise and establishment of populism and the political recovery of authoritarian politics and rhetoric
2) the non-compliance of the promise of social advancement
3) the citizens' loss of trust in representative democracy
4) and - reinforced by the corona pandemic - a deep distrust in established media and institutional science and information channels
Europe’s future depends on strengthening democracy and cohesion within and between its member states. Democratic institution, a democratic culture and European civic attitudes and values in the whole society is core for a stronger belief and trust in a European future. The principles of a liberal democracy, the rule of law and an open society must be defended and strengthened.
The European Forum Alpbach (EFA) is a platform that drives ideas for an empowered and democratic Europe. It brings together young people, leading scholars, thinkers, scientists, policy makers, business people and civil society actors from Europe and from all over the world to engage and contribute to its mission of shaping a stronger Europe.
The European Forum Alpbach is an inspirational place that opens minds and souls for Europe's future. A forum that generates ideas and sparks action.
The first EFA took place in 1945 as the “International College Weeks”. Founded in 1948 as a non-profit association based in Vienna, it acts independently of any ideology, religion or political party. The association only functions thanks to the vast number of people who, with the exception of the organisation team, all dedicate their time voluntarily to the EFA. They have contributed to making the EFA one of the most important interdisciplinary dialogue platforms in Europe for science, politics, economics and culture today.