Values and Virtues plenary discussion attended by Dmitry Medvedev

The central event of the first day at the 2018 Gaidar Forum was the plenary discussion, Values and Virtues, attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The speakers discussed key challenges and risks for the global economy in the coming years.

Dmitry Medvedev cited the current increasing inequality – uneven incomes, uneven territorial development; the risk of an artificial technological gap growing between the world’s regions; and ensuring security in the digital space, as the top challenges of our time.

“We know how much has been done, historically, thanks to unconventional and seemingly fantastic ideas. It was those ideas that set the benchmarks for technological development and gradually changed the system of social values. Today, these processes are much faster,” Mr. Medvedev said.

In his speech, the Prime Minister noted that the matters arising due to those explosive technological changes that are increasingly expanding beyond the scope of the economy and creating pressing and often quite unexpected ethical issues. “The question is: Are we are prepared for such dynamic and drastic changes? It appears to me, not quite,” he said.

According to Mr. Medvedev, the very nature of new technology is placing the individual at the center of literally any economic process, sometimes making them a manufacturer rather than just a consumer. In this regard, he emphasized the importance of developing modern innovative education: “As soon as today, we must set a goal to change public attitudes to healthcare and education, with a view to improve professionalism and increasing the income of professionals working in these sectors.” In the context of developing human capital, the Head of Government emphasized the importance of improving the quality of public administration in targeted areas. According to Mr. Medvedev, it is the individual who becomes the main value and the main guideline to making management decisions; this means that, together with traditional technical specifications and business plans, assessment of social and moral consequences will become more important.

Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Vladimir Mau moderated the plenary discussion.

Chairman of the Board JP Morgan Chase International, former chairman of the Bank of Israel Jacob Frenkel urged to distance ourselves from negative forecasts, as the world economy is in the best condition over the past decade now. Regarding negative factors, he drew attention to the risks of protectionism and fragmentation of the global economic space, which hinder the positive factors of globalization. Mr. Frenkel suggested that the World Bank, the IMF and other international organizations should be given greater control and restraining powers.

Answering Vladimir Mau’s question about non-economic factors of social and economic development, World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva noted the priority value of investing in human capital – in addition to developing infrastructure and improving the business environment. Among the challenges, she highlighted the lack of stability of credit and finance systems in several countries.

President of the European Policy Center, former President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy expressed solidarity with this position. Speaking of the risk factors, he singled out the danger of emergence of market bubbles, and stressed the importance of developing innovations to improve labor productivity amid the current demographic challenges facing Europe.
Political analyst Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and Permanent Fellow with the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mukkanen also shared their views on the issue. The experts emphasized that the growing popularity of populist political trends pose a major threat to international integration processes.

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

Participation is free; preliminary registration is required.

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