Global turmoil caught many unprepared to face the consequences of malfunctioning financial systems and empty social policies. Even more worrying is the global lack of trust, which is an inextricable part of well-functioning societies. The crisis has further increased the lack of trust at the national, regional and global levels, permeating all social strata. Placing trust in someone means putting yourself at risk, and, by extension, trust can be placed only in those who are credible and trustworthy. However, trustworthiness is earned gradually, requiring better transparency, vigilance and credible communication.
The 2014 Bled Strategic Forum will look into the effects and consequences of the lack of trust, and open a discussion about the power of trust to bend the curve.
We live in dynamic times, when technological development is changing our social lives, particularly through the media, social networks, and digital technologies. Traditional forms of leadership are proving too rigid and too slow to respond to new global challenges. In an era of great geopolitical shifts, the way in which leaders, and international organisations in particular, respond to new global challenges is all the more important. Leaders must change their mind-sets to face new global trends and phenomena that transcend nation states and give rise to new conceptual links.
However, the fundamental role of leaders to set an example remains unchanged and is even more important. In the coming years, they will either learn to encourage progressive political and economic processes or continue to cling to obsolete patterns, which are fertile ground for populism.
Cyberspace is becoming the backbone of economic prosperity, development and welfare. The openness of cyberspace and its integrity, sustainability and authenticity, as well as data protection, have become central issues in the 21st century. Cyber-terrorism, cyber-attacks, cybercrime and other misuses of cyberspace are global challenges that require a global response, complemented by national action and capacity building. The cost of the damage is enormous. Rules matter, whether you are on or off line and transparency and confidence between countries are paramount. The activities of intelligence agencies should be scrutinised. Ensuring cyber security and protecting fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law in cyberspace have become central challenges for governments, the business sector and civil society, both at the national and international level.
Ageing and demographic change are among the greatest social and economic global challenges of the 21st century, concerning European societies in particular. Life expectancy is rising, while baby boomers are retiring and have different retirement expectations and requirements than the generations before them. On the one hand, demands for improved international legal protection of the human rights of older persons are ever louder. On the other, today's youth are finding it hard to live independently, because steady employment and affordable housing are becoming rare commodities. The lives of the older and the younger generations are in fact becoming increasingly interwoven and interdependent, and new approaches such as the social mobility of the older are much needed. By failing to unlock the vast potential that both groups have for society, are we not undermining our chances to live in a truly modern, innovative and vibrant society?
The power of diversity is immense. It is the main element of progress. Bridging diversity creates sustainable growth and cohesion. A great example is Central Europe, where a third of Europe's population overcame their differences to create prosperity and growth. Located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Basin and the Western Balkans, Slovenia is a hub of regions and cultures, migration flows, infrastructure, environmental efforts and business. Slovenia is ideally located to bring together a forum on the growing spirit of the heart of Europe, which needs strengthened integration, the eradication of economic and social differences, unified standards and effectiveness, and a common approach to addressing international issues.
In the past, we often discussed the lack of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans or, more precisely, the lack of will of Western Balkan countries to engage actively in regional cooperation. We now face a changing situation. We have many regional initiatives, but very few yield tangible results. We could argue that trust between countries in the region is being re-established and translated into serious regional initiatives. The question now is whether there is enough trust and political will to engage in concrete activities, with a special focus on infrastructure, economy and culture. How can we streamline the work of various regional structures and initiatives so that they produce better and more comprehensive results? How can we put the existing framework of regional initiatives to best use?
International relations are not limited to meetings around mahogany tables and in the conference rooms of international organisations. Well-cultivated bilateral or multilateral international ties involve everything from international development cooperation to cultural projects. Even sporting events add to the multi-faceted relations between the people and foreign governments. These hidden dimensions of international relations are precisely the focus of the traditional night-owl session and the new early-bird session. We will also address the future role of global tourism and its modern trends.
Trust is the core value of all business activities. Trust builds connections, creates jobs, keeps customers and generates progress. Trust is essential to generating social capital and sustainable economic growth. To drive sustainable growth and improve economic resilience, countries must focus on promoting creativity, innovation and inclusion. Business BSF is designed to highlight factors that increase the competiveness of countries and regions, stimulate economic growth, and bring prosperity and welfare to the society. The discussion will focus on finding balance between different parts of Europe and integrating South East Europe in the infrastructure network of the European Union, enhancing business cooperation with India, defining the role of technological innovations as a major driving force of economic growth and achieving it.