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Top Diplomats, Experts and Changemakers gather at Doha Forum to explore Transforming for a New Era

DOHA, Qatar, 26 March – Doha Forum 2022, one of the world’s premier policy gatherings, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, reconvened today for its 20th edition at the Sheraton Hotel, Doha, bringing together policymakers, world leaders, and experts from around the world under the theme ‘Transforming for a New Era’.

This year's edition of the two-day policy forum welcomes more than 200 speakers to debate some of the world’s most challenging issues, particularly the forum’s key theme of ‘Transforming for a New Era’, with a focus on four key areas; Geopolitical Alliances and International Relations, Financial System and Economic Development, Defense, Cyber and Food Security and finally Climate Change and Sustainability.

During the opening session, following the official opening by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a warm welcome as he addressed the Doha Forum audience virtually, while Roya Mahboob, founder of the Digital Citizens Fund, received the Doha Forum Award 2022, which celebrates the achievements of an individual or organization based on the values of Doha Forum.

This year’s honourable guests include: H.E. Dr. Vjosa Osmani, President of Kosovo, H.E. Salem Al Meslet President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, H.E. Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister, Palestine, H.E. Choguel Kokalla Maïga, Prime Minister, Mali, H.E. Mukhtar Tileuberdi Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kazakhstan, with ministers and top diplomats from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ukraine, Singapore, Turkey, Bangladesh, Poland, Cote D'Ivoire, Afghanistan, Italy, Algeria, European Union, North Macedonia, Maldives, Jordan, Iraq, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden, Pakistan, Rwanda, New Zealand, the United States and United Kingdom.

Other notable guests include H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Chairperson, Qatar Museums, H.E. John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, H.E. Filippo Grandi High Commissioner, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, H.E. BØRGE Brende, President, World Economic Forum, H.E. Mary Robinson Chair, The Elders, H.E. Abdulla Shahid, President, United Nations General Assembly, Patrick Turner, Assistant Secretary General For Defense Policy And Planning, NATO, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, co-chairperson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Malala Yousafzai, activist and Nobel Laureate.

Day One sessions included:

Opening Session:

Doha Forum 2022 opened with a welcome address by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, who spoke of the need for cooperation amongst the global community to more effectively address the issues of the day, saying "it is incumbent on all of us to determine the future of the international order and ask: what is the shape of the world we want for our children?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dialled into the opening session, echoing the call for unity, “We have to protect the international order, not just for Ukraine, but for Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen…” Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid spoke too of “a time of fragility… [when] our world faces multiple armed conflicts, nuclear proliferation, and the widening impacts of climate change.”

Plenary Session: Transforming for a New Era: (MoFA)

The opening plenary session of Doha Forum was held under the running theme of this year’s edition, ‘Transforming for a New Era.' The session focused on ways in which the world could address the shocks to the global economy and global order, with key speakers such as HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, Minister of Foreign Affairs stressing the need for cooperation and collaboration "we cannot be isolated from what is happening around us in the world… Qatar has been building a track record in dialogue and diplomacy." His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Foreign Minister, Saudi Arabia followed, stating the importance of involving the global north and south, "particularly smaller and middle powers in… addressing the needs of all rather than the needs of a few… to work together in setting the global agenda.”

Parallel Panel: Qatar Africa Business Forum: Post Pandemic Africa (Qatar Africa Business Forum)

The Qatar-Africa Business Forum held on the sidelines of Doha Forum featured a discussion of the most important sectors for growth in Africa post-pandemic.

H.E. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki, Governor of the Edo State of Nigeria, highlighted the devastating impact the pandemic had on livelihoods, adding: “If you ask me to look at the next two years, the Ukrainian war for me has created a real alarm for food systems. With the increase in food prices, particularly wheat, staples, and grains and the rise in energy prices. We as a government now realise that we must now begin to put in place a lot of resources into agriculture, and large-scale projects.”

Joe Eshun, CEO of Deloitte East Africa, said “Africa is very resilient and a lot of you remember two and a half years ago the conversation was, COVID-19 is going to decimate Africa. I don't think it did happen. So, today's conversation is very interesting, it's looking at the recovery after COVID-19. What is the next two to three years going to look like? And we have to reflect on that in the midst of the current economic challenges and the political situation in Ukraine.”

Charles Murito, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy for Google, Sub-Saharan Africa, expressed his optimism in Africa’s future, commenting, “Africa is going to be serving the world when it comes to the young people who are going to be needed to fill jobs in the world.”

Parallel Panel: Misinformation and the War for Truth (Foreign Policy)

In this discussion, panellists explored how mis- and disinformation spread across social media, promoting the dissemination of conspiracy theories and fringe political beliefs.

H.E. Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ukraine, spoke of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and the media frenzy surrounding it, including Russian propaganda, stating: “There is an invisible information war front. The effort of this is greater than we think it is. It's like radiation. You don't see it, but it affects your mental health and greater health.”

The panel also discussed the current state of global mis- and disinformation efforts around the world and how stakeholders and tech companies can most effectively combat them.

“Historically, a number of the biggest players in tech prefer to see themselves as operating on the side of the people,”said Elizabeth Joanna Linder, Founder, Brooch Associates. She continued: “While that is such an incredible philosophy, it is totally impractical and does not map to how the real world works. In the long term, there needs to be a check in balance, between tech companies and government.”

Parallel Roundtable: Building a New Sustainability Paradigm: Cities Contribution to the Climate Solution (QF)

In the session, Building a New Sustainability Paradigm: Cities Contribution to the Climate Solution, speakers explored ways of enhancing the resilience of cities by incorporating nature into their design. Moderator Gonzalo Castro de la Mata, Executive Director, Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, noted that cities consume 70% of the world’s energy and are responsible for three quarters of global emissions, despite them only taking up 2% of the earth’s surface.

“It is increasingly understood that nature is a friend to cities looking for resilience,” commented Jane Madgwick, President and CEO of Wetlands International. “In some cities it is essential to restore nature because the impact [of climate change] is too severe. It’s about linking socio-economic development with environmental development.”

H.E. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Global Leader of Climate & Energy at the World Wildlife Fund; Former Minister of Environment of Peru and Former President of COP20, stressed the importance of rewarding progress rather than success to ensure that less-developed cities do not become discouraged from making changes. “We have to move to net-zero by 2050 and that requires raising our ambition in the current decade,” he added.

H.E. Sheikh Faleh bin Nasser bin Ahmed bin Ali Al Thani, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Qatar, highlighted the significant role Qatar is playing in reducing gas emissions through carbon capture technology. “We have committed to reducing carbon emissions by 25% by 2030, and to do that we are expanding the capacity of our carbon capture facility from 2 million tons to 9 million tons by 2030. We will also start operating Qatar’s first solar power plant this year using photo-voltaic technology.”

The session featured the launch of Earthna Center for a Sustainable Future, a non-profit research and advocacy center. Earthna, a member of Qatar Foundation, will channel the organisation’s education, research, and innovation ecosystem into generating solutions that enhance Qatar’s global sustainability policy role where the country has unique insight and capabilities.

Parallel Session: Economies of War (ICG)

This panel furthered a discussion of the political and military dimensions of war, with an assessment of how the control of resources, as well as other financial and economic considerations, shifts the calculus of peace amongst warring parties.

The economic dimension of conflict cannot be entirely separated from resolution mechanisms. Speaking of Yemen, where the internationally recognized government and Houthi rebels have exacerbated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as they are locked in a tug-of-war over imports and finance, HE Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, articulated how “the challenge in Yemen is the disintegration of state bearing institutions. Until 2018 the warring sides respected the impartiality … of economic institutions, but as the war dragged on it weaponized the economic dimension. This needs to be addressed…. you want to depoliticize the economic component of the conflict.”

HE Raychelle Omamo Foreign Minister, Kenya elaborated on the need for African countries to unify and become self-sufficient, whilst calling for the “need to partner on development, health, job creation, digitization – things that help our people stand.”

Parallel Session: Reimagining Business Models in a Post-Pandemic Era (QIA)

In the session, Reimagining Business Models in a Post-Pandemic Era, experts talked about the dramatic transformations ushered in by the pandemic in sectors such as technology and retail, as well as the accelerated innovation across many industries. Mr. Jaydeep Barman, CEO, Rebel Foods, predicted changing dining patterns, commenting, “Real estate has gotten costlier, while technology has gotten cheaper. Using the same kitchen to create an internet restaurant is a change that will launch new brands, which is a very exciting opportunity going forward.” Ms. Hande Çilingir, Co-Founder & CEO, 1X Entrepreneur, opined that the pandemic had changed business drastically: “Customers and brands changed how they are interacting with each other and the client. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping brands learn customer preference and priorities. And, we are using big data and AI to identify more than sixty parameters in algorithms to make smarter decisions and predictions for the consumers.” Mohammad Saif Al Sowaidi, Chief Investment Officer, Americas, Qatar Investment Authority stressed the role of investment in driving innovation “Capital and partnerships are only there to help and guide entrepreneurs. The role we would like to play is to utilise our ability to support entrepreneurs because the journey is not always easy. We invested in businesses when they are a concept and create a new format for their model.”

Parallel Panel: The International Community's Role in Managing Refugee Flows: Syria and Beyond (Antalya Diplomacy Forum)

This discussion addressed managing refugee flows, particularly how to ease the burden borne by developing countries, when it comes to housing, feeding, and protecting these vulnerable populations. HE Salem Al Meslet, President of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, spoke of how “60% of the Syrian population have left their homes and country. The cause of this is an aggression happening in Syria and Ukraine, coming from the same aggressor.” H.E. Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy,stressed the importance of changing the policies with refugees. He stated that EU countries are now accepting a one year visa for Ukranians to live in their country until the crisis is over. He said: “It has been possible for us to give Ukrainans a one year visa because of political reasons. I regret that it wasn't possible before with the Syrian refugees. It wasn't possible to find an agreement between the states in the EU. It was not possible for political reasons.”

On allowing more Syrian refugees into the EU, Vedova said: “We need to work on a partnership with the countries of the region and set up some schemes to let people go to Europe and look for a job legally.”

H.E. Joanna Wronecka, Special Coordinator for Lebanon to the United Nations focused on supporting refugees in Lebanon, a country with minimal resources that is, according to UNHCR, host to 840,000 Syrian refugees. Dr. Savaş Ünlü, Director General of Migration Management of the Ministry of Interior, Turkey, spoke to the need to reconfigure the system, addressing the socio-economic concerns that fuel conflict and drive individuals from their countries.

Parallel Panel: The Promises and Perils of Artificial Intelligence & Analytics for Decision-making (RAND)

In “The Promises and Perils of Artificial Intelligence & Analytics for Decision-making” data, anthropology and business experts imagined what a data-driven future would look like for humans.

Addressing the dystopian image many have of robots taking over the world, Dr. Danielle Tarraf, Senior Director, JCI Ventures remarked, “There is validity in fear but what we have been seeing is AI augmenting people rather than replacing them. We’re seeing AI doing things that tire or bore people, or things that people couldn’t do such as all-night monitoring and surveillance.”

Dilawar Syed, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, US State Department, cautioned “We know from social media companies that the track record is not great when it comes to companies regulating the ill-effects [of technology]. We are going into a world that is going to fundamentally change how we do everything. We cannot be driven by fear, but we cannot leave it to companies to self-regulate.”

Dr. Kathryn Bouskill, Researcher at Meta, expressed her optimism for the future of AI in health: “The last time I was at the Doha Forum in 2019 I was talking about global health security and the risk for a pandemic. So I am particularly excited to see how we can bring AI into epidemiology. At the same time, I believe AI can face shortcomings if we don’t build systems that can adjust to the benefits AI can bring.”

Parallel Session: Prospects for Women and Girls in Afghanistan (Doha Debates)

In the “Prospects for Women and Girls in Afghanistan”, humanitarian, political, and religious advocates shared their vision of what Afghanistan could look like in the future.

Outlining a strategic approach to the Afghan caretaker government’s ban on education for girls, the Former Member of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Negotiation Team and Afghanistan Red Crescent Society, Fatima Gailani commented: “We must not play with this situation, we cannot be emotional about it. This is the future of 16 million women in Afghanistan. Afghan women know exactly what they want, which is equal right of education, equal right of work, and equal right of participation”.

Deconstructing the religious crux of the educational ban, Dr. Omar Suleiman, Founder and President of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, stated: “Religious scholarship should insist on proper interpretation [of Islamic text] and holistic solutions to these problems and not politicize education, economic aid, and food and drink, and bring forward how religion can be part of the solution”.

Highlighting her efforts to bring humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the Nobel Prize Laureate and Activist, Malala Yousafzai, underscored that education is integral to bringing hope and progress to the people of Afghanistan. “What is really needed right now is a strong statement from Muslim countries that defend girls’ rights to education in the Islamic context. Seeking education is the duty of every Muslim. If we want to actually address these issues, we have to talk about human rights, through dedicated dialogues, and inclusivity in these dialogues”.

Plenary Panel: Energy Transition and Security: Meeting Demand in a Volatile World (Qatar Energy)

This dialogue centred around the global energy crisis and fuel shortages which led to blackouts, and rising electricity costs across Europe and Asia this past winter. His Excellency Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs, and President and CEO of QatarEnergy, compared the European and Asian energy markets, saying “during this situation with Ukraine, we are not going to divert away from Europe, although we have the contractual right to do that.”

Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO TotalEnergies stated, ““Energy is a triangle: security of supply, pricing, and climate… We must find the right balance… Gas is part of this transition, because it gives the flexibility to move from coal to renewable to fully carbonised.”

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine was also discussed, with Anders Opedal, President and CEO, Equinor, saying, “We are in a war situation, so now it is about finding some of the short term solutions to ensure people get the energy, and particularly, it is important to ensure that we are not moving from an energy crisis to a fuel crisis.”

The panelists also explored the question of what role producer nations play in ensuring the world has adequate and affordable supplies of fuel while countries work towards building the infrastructure needed for a transition to more renewable energy sources. They additionally explored how suppliers can work together to regulate prices and manage supply, while protecting their interests in a world increasingly committed to green energy.

Newsmaker Interview: His Excellency John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and Former Secretary of State

In this Newsmaker interview, John Kerry stressed the importance of taking action against the the climate crisis, stating: “The best scientists in the world - repeatedly - over 30 years - are telling us unequivocally, that we have X number of years, now down to 8, to make critical decisions and implement them to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.”

Newsmaker Interview: Her Excellency Emine Dzhaparova, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ukraine

In a Newsmaker interview with CNN’s Becky Anderson, HE Emine Dzhaparova called on Western powers to take action to halt Russian aggression, stating: “Territorial integrity is the very basis of international law. When the war started, everyone thought that Ukrainians would give up, but this did not happen. We have over 100,000 Ukrainian men who want to join this territorial defense. People are not ready to give up”.

Parallel Panel: The Global Displacement Crisis: Beyond Humanitarianism (Wilson Center)

This panel addressed the international responsibility towards refugees. The more than 80 million forcibly displaced people worldwide often seek refuge in nearby towns or countries which have scant resources. HE Ayman Al Safadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jordan, spoke of the need to provide individuals with the ability to live in dignity, through the creation of opportunity and a return to normalcy. “Give them hope, give them respect. Without this, there is a greater risk for radicalism which affects everyone.”

The panel shed light on the breadth and depth of the displacement crisis and the importance of focussing efforts beyond aid, towards development assistance. HE Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated: “In the emergency phase [aid] is not complicated… [we must] start thinking about the medium and long term at the very start of an emergency” which necessitates considering solutions to reduce> e need for migration or to facilitate a return to their countries of origin.

The panellists further spoke of the importance of funding rather than goods when helping refugees, of particular importance as situations become protracted and the large-scale resources available during the emergency phase of a crisis drying up. To sustainably address the humanitarian crises, panellists spoke of the importance of connecting with development organisations from early on, to obtain buy-in and longer term solutions.

Parallel Panel: Building Stability in Libya (Wilton Park)

The panel Building Stability and Peace in Libya addressed Libya’s ongoing political vacuum since the 2011 uprisings which culminated in the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The destabilising power struggle that followed the 2011 international intervention saw the emergence of armed militias that have since gained power along with the evolution of cogent political identities. The presence of foreign mercenaries remains a defining feature in the conflict. Libya’s next election, postponed from December 2021, is now expected this year and the importance of stabilisation in Libya is paramount.

Najlaa Al-Manqush: Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Libyan National Unity Government began the discussion and commented on the upcoming elections in Libya, stating, 'We are very keen to have an election as soon as possible because I think this is the only solution for Libya.’ She continued, “We don't want to jump to the result without paving the way towards a more sustainable election.”

Newsmaker Interview: H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Turkey

In this interview, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Turkey spoke on a number of issues including the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as Turkey’s economic performance in the last ten years: stating “the international community should continue pressuring the particular aggressor which is Russia. Aggression on Ukraine is unacceptable.”

This year’s Doha Forum is sponsored by Qatar Investment Authority, with strategic partners Chatham House, European Council on Relations (ECFR), International Crisis Group (ICG), and Munich Security Conference (MSC). Content partners include Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Observer Research Foundation (ORF), RAND Corporation, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Stimson Center, US Middle East Peace Project (USMEP), United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Wilson Centre, Wilton Park and World Economic Forum (WEF).

Qatari institutional partners are: Education Above All, Hamad bin Khalifa University, Invest Qatar, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Free Zone Authority, Qatar Fund for Development, Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre, Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar Museums, Qatar Energy, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, World Innovations Summit for Health. Media partners are: Al Jazeera, Bloomberg, CNN, Doha Debates, Agencia EFE, Foreign Policy and OrientXXI.



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