Bled Strategic Forum 2017: New Reality

Seeking the answers to pressing issues of today’s globalised world

BSF 2016 - Leaders' Panel. Photo: Bled Strategic Forum archives

A leading conference in Central and South East Europe, the annual Bled Strategic Forum (BSF)  provides the needed high-level platform for discussion of pressing regional and global issues. Attracting over 500 participants, including heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats, representatives of the business sphere, scholars and the media from the entire world, the forum also offers a unique opportunity for bilateral and multilateral meetings with the foremost regional and global stakeholders and a possibility for extensive networking between political and business leaders of today.

The world is rapidly changing, with globalisation and digitalisation significantly increasing the pace of our lives and bringing us closer together than ever before, as well as presenting profound challenges to our self-perception, politics, economy, security, and society. The annual BSF will address the “New Reality” we live in and seek for answers to the pressing issues of today’s changing world.

Providing a high-level platform for discussions, the 12th BSF will take place on 4 and 5 September 2017 addressing the challenges posed by the “New Reality”. BSF offers room for the exchange of ideas and concepts through panels, roundtables and one-on-one interviews in the idyllic environment of Bled, Slovenia.

Need for strategic vision

BSF 2016 - Western Balkans - Is the EU still a pull factor. Photo: Bled Strategic Forum archives

Established political, economic and social elites are losing ground Populist, nationalist and extremist movements are on the rise. It is difficult to keep up with the vast amount of information that bombards us daily, let alone evaluate its true value or meaning and put it in a proper context. Wars and conflicts in Europe’s immediate neighbourhood and in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia challenge our views on morality, norms, and values. Terrorist attacks fuel fear in our lives and societies, and the fact that there are millions of refugees worldwide deepens our sense of insecurity.

With the world order possibly at breaking point, we need a strategic vision, strong democratic leadership, and perseverance. We need to adapt to the new reality, but always remember the foundations on which our modern societies were built. It is vital to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law continue to be respected, as well as everything else we have built through the decades.

Keeping the adaptation to the new reality in mind, the Forum will start on Monday, 4 September, with the Opening Ceremony in the Bled Festival Hall, followed by the Leaders’ Panel, which traditionally hosts heads of state and government, ministers and representatives of the business sector. The participants will get insights into the opinions and standpoints of the leaders from this region and beyond, followed by evening discussions with prominent scholars, a night owl session that will look into the phenomenon of fake news, and a gala reception with Ana Roš, a Slovenian chef who was recently named the World’s Best Female Chef for 2017.

The second day’s discussions will provide insights into global nuclear governance, the role of water resources for peace and security, and the influence of the transformation of the concept of human rights. The European Union, the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement process, and the Southern Mediterranean region, will be examined closely in the related geopolitical and geostrategic panel discussions. Since soft power should not be overlooked in today’s digitalised and globalised world, we will also explore the digital diplomacy of the 21st century, using traditional and social media, and realistic hope as an approach of future-oriented thinkers and doers.

Pressing regional and global issues also raise questions with regard to the role of the business sector. Since it no longer suffices to understand current changes solely on the basis of past experience, and to try to adapt to a new reality with traditional approaches, we need to create and implement new business, economic and social concepts, and new methods to achieve our goals. 

Innovating New Reality

Young BSF. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

The search for such approaches will be at the core of the Business BSF, an integral part of the Forum, organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration, the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia, and the German-Slovene Chamber of Commerce and Industry, under the title “Innovating New Reality”.

The challenges facing the younger generation in their aspirations for a better future will be incorporated into the Young BSF. Taking place on 1‒3 September 2017, it will tackle the “(Dis)connected Reality” and give visionary young leaders an opportunity to address issues such as whether we are losing touch with our material reality at the expense of living in a virtual one, or whether we can exist without (dis)connected realities in the realms of electronics, the environment and economics (the so-called 3Es). This goal- and youth-oriented meeting will seek to prompt discussions and create synergies of different ideas, turning them into connected or disconnected realities of and for everyone.

Attracting around one thousand participants, including heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats, businesspeople, scholars and the media from around the world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Centre for European Perspective will put a unique emphasis on bilateral and multilateral meetings with regional and global stakeholders, and the leaders of today and tomorrow.

Text by Sabina Carli