The Seventh CAREC Think Tank Development Forum
Speakers and Moderators
About the Forum
The CAREC Think Tank Development Forum is organized annually under the auspices of the CAREC Think Tank Network (CTTN). Every year the Forum brings together leading practitioners from think tanks, multilateral development partners, governments, and the private sector from the CAREC region to brainstorm regional challenges and provide diverse perspectives and innovative solutions to address these challenges through dialogue, experience sharing, and knowledge collaboration.
This year, the seventh edition of the forum will be held under the theme “Embracing Digital Technology for Sustainable Economic Development” and will consist of seven sessions on the role of digital technology in driving sustainable economic growth, the readiness of the CAREC region for digital adoption, the promotion of digital technologies, investments in key digital infrastructure and favorable business environment, the development of e-commerce and digital finance; and discussions of opportunities and challenges for the labor market, digital governance, and the CAREC startup ecosystem. In the closing session, CTTN members will discuss how think tanks, through strategic advocacy, can provide policy makers with the information and guidance they need to develop effective policies that promote economic growth, stability and prosperity.
The forum will discuss, among others, (i) findings of CTTN Research Grants Program (RGP) studies; (ii) the role of digital technology in spurring economic development; (iii) digital strategies, governance, and infrastructure; (iv) digital divide and policies for boosting digital skills and competencies; and (v) E-commerce, governance, financial inclusion and FinTech.
Agenda Day One – 16 August, Wednesday
Registration, Hilton Hotel, Urumqi
Session I – Opening Ceremony
Welcome Remarks by Kabir Jurozoda, Director, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Institute
Opening remarks and Keynote address
Opening Remarks by Shixin Chen, Vice President, Asian Development Bank
Opening Address by Wencai Zhang, Vice President, The Export-Import Bank of China, the People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Keynote Address by Zhijun Cheng, Director-General, Ministry of Finance, the PRC
Keynote Address by Governor/Deputy Governor, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the PRC
Session II – Context Setting: Digital Economy and Development Nexus
Technology has significantly improved living standards and prosperity. More recently, with its innumerable modern-day manifestations, digital technology has played a crucial role in fostering sustainable economic development by enabling businesses to increase their productivity and efficiency while reducing their environmental footprints. Digital technology has enabled the development of new products and services that address environmental challenges, such as renewable energy, intelligent transportation systems, and sustainable agriculture. Further, the session will take stock of the CAREC region’s readiness for digital adoption by reviewing the progress in formulating dedicated digital strategies, developing crucial infrastructure, and creating an investment-friendly business environment.
Moderator: Ayumi Konishi, Senior Advisor to CEO, the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Beijing
Analyzing the Role of Digital Technology in Spurring Sustainable Economic Growth
Speaker: Thomas Abell, Director, Digital Technology for Development Division, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila
Digital Strategies, Infrastructure, and Investment – CAREC Region’s Readiness for Digital Adoption
Speaker: Talant Sultanov, Chair and Founder, the Center for Strategic Initiatives, BishkekSpeaker: Talant Sultanov, Chair and Founder, the Center for Strategic Initiatives, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic
Session III: CAREC Think Tank Network (CTTN) Research Grants Program Presentations: Country Case Studies
This session will present four case studies, one from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, on topics how digital technology leverage sustainable development/growth in these countries. This Regional Report is produced under the CAREC Think Tank Network (CTTN) Research Grants Program (RGP) umbrella, aimed at fostering regional knowledge-sharing cooperation among member think tanks.
Moderator: Roman Mogilevskii, Senior Economist, Central and West Asia Regional Department (CWRD), ADB, Manila, the Philippines
Kazakhstan Case Study
Speaker: Albina Muratbekova, Senior Research Fellow, Eurasian Research Institute, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kyrgyz Republic Case Study
Speaker: Burulcha Sulaimanova, Researcher, OSCE Academy, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Pakistan Case Study
Speaker: Asif Javed, Senior Research Associate, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad, Pakistan
Uzbekistan Case Study
Speaker: Farrukh Khakimov, Research Coordinator, Development Strategy Center, Uzbekistan, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Session IV: Bridging Digital Divide and Boosting Digital Skills
The rapid pace of technological advancements has brought about new opportunities and challenges for the labor market. While technological adoption has increased productivity and efficiency, it has also widened the already wide-ranging digital divide among countries, regions, gender, income, and age groups, putting additional pressure on governments to design programs for bridging the digital gap, reskilling, and upskilling the workforce, particularly women workers. The implications for the labor market are significant, as many jobs are at risk of automation, and workers will need to acquire new skills to remain relevant in the job market.
Moderator: Artem Levenkov, Head of Socooeconomic Analysis and IFIs, Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development, Moscow, Russia
Technological Adoption, Inequalities, and Implications for Labor Market
Speaker: Xiaojun Feng, Associate Professor of Sociology, China Agricultural University, BeijingXiaojun Feng, Associate Professor of Sociology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, the PRC
Reskilling and Upskilling Women for Bridging Digital Divide in the CAREC Region
Speaker: Ana Pashalishvili, Programme Specialist, Women’s Entrepreneurship Acceleration, Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, United Nations Women (UN Women), Istanbul, Turkiye
Bridging the Quality of Education through Digital Technologies using the Flipped Classroom Approach
Speaker: Syed Hassan Alsagoff, Manager, Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation and Capacity Development Department, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Session V: RKSI South-South Learning Seminar: Digital Governance and Commerce
As businesses adopt digital marketing platforms for selling their products and services, the need for brick-and-mortar spaces diminishes. As more and more companies shift their operations online, it is crucial to establish a robust governance structure to ensure that online transactions are secure, fair, and transparent and that essential regulatory frameworks and policies are in place to protect consumers, build trust in digital commerce, prevent fraud, and promote healthy competition in the online marketplace. China’s success story, led by Alibaba, offers numerous policy lessons for CAREC countries to emulate for promoting E-commerce. Moreover, two success stories from Mongolia and Pakistan on digital trade facilitation and optimizing digital governance reinforce the significance of south-south learning.
Moderator: Hsiao Chink (Benzhe) Tang, Head of ADB-PRC Regional Knowledge Sharing Initiative (RKSI), ADB
China’s E-commerce Success Story: Role of Government and Policy Implications for the CAREC Countries
Speaker: Sherry Tao Kong, Associate Professor, Beijing University, Beijing, the PRC
Role of Private Sector in E-Commerce: Learning from Alibaba’s Success Story
Speaker: Remon Moes, Senior Manager Public Affairs, Alibaba
TradeTech for Trade Facilitation and Regional Integration: Pakistan Single Window (PSW) Initiative
Speaker: Syed Shakeel Shah, Director-General, Reforms and Automation, Federal Board of Revenue, Pakistan
Building Digital Nation through Optimization of Public Services in Mongolia
Speaker: Enkhtulga Ganbat, Specialist of Cross-Sector Coordination, Ministry of Digital Development and Communications, Mongolia
Session VI: Financial Inclusion and Digital Finance
Financial inclusion refers to the provision of affordable and accessible financial services to people who are traditionally excluded from the formal financial system. Digital finance, on the other hand, refers to using technology to provide financial services. Digital finance has the potential to significantly increase financial inclusion by reducing the cost and increasing the accessibility of financial services. Mobile money, for example, allows people to conduct financial transactions using their mobile phones without needing a bank account. This has been particularly beneficial in developing countries, where many people lack access to traditional banking services. Overall, digital finance has the potential to transform the financial landscape and improve the lives of millions of people. CAREC member states (Excl. the PRC) are lagging when it comes to providing services and infrastructure critical to increasing financial inclusion, for example, access to the Internet, transport linkages, and government facilitation. On the other hand, China has taken giant leaps in harnessing technology to deepen financial inclusion, presenting numerous policy lessons to CAREC countries.
Moderator: Yixin Yao, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Tokyo
The State of Financial Inclusion in the CAREC Region
Speaker: Khalid Umar, Chief of Strategic Planning Division, CAREC Institute
Role of WeChat in deepening financial inclusion in China – Policy Lessons for the CAREC Region
Speaker: Jieru Ba, Senior Researcher, Tencent Research Institute, Beijing
First Day Recap
Ghulam Samad, Senior Research Specialist, CAREC Institute
Agenda Day Two – 17 August, Thursday
10:00 – 11:40
Session VII: A Booming CAREC Startup Ecosystem under CAREC Digital Strategy 2030
The CAREC 2030 Digital Strategy reveals a blueprint of how digital tools and applications empower the economy and the quality of life in the CAREC region. Among the five pillars, Digital innovation, entrepreneurship, and ICT competitiveness lays the foundation for a startup ecosystem community capable of applying digital technologies and tools to make a change. An outlook of the CAREC 2030 Digital Strategy will provide a background of the methodology and framework of the digital transformation expected by 2030 in the CAREC region, specifically, the type of startup ecosystem needed to upgrade the digital economy effectively. A series of initiatives have been carried out to build an interactive and collaborative startup ecosystem with all the innovation stakeholders.
Moderator: Roman Mogilevskii, Senior Economist, CRWC, ADB, Manila, the Philippines
CAREC Digital Strategy Pillars: Strengthening Digital Foundations
Speaker: Naveed Zafar Durrani, Senior Consultant, ADB, Singapore
An Overview of Initiatives under the CAREC Program: Startup Map, CIN, University Startup Challenge, and CAREC Innovation Decoded
Speaker: Shuqi Su, ADB Consultant, the PRC
The Development of the CAREC Startup Ecosystem and its Impact on the Broader Digital Economy
Speaker: Eli David, CEO, StartupBlink, Israel / ADB Consultant (Online)
11:40 – 12:00
12:00 – 13:00
Session VII: Building Alliances for Regional Prosperity
Unabating Geoeconomic uncertainties present unpredictable economic risks and challenges that arise from geopolitical factors such as political instability, trade disputes, and sanctions. The interplay of these factors can lead to changes in currency exchange rates, commodity prices, and investment flows, among other things. Countries and businesses must navigate these uncertainties to maintain stability and competitiveness in the global economy. Think tanks are important institutions that can help countries navigate the uncertainties of the global economy and geopolitical landscape. Through research, analysis, and dialogue, think tanks can provide policymakers and stakeholders with the information and recommendations they need to develop effective policies that promote economic growth, stability, and prosperity.
Panel Discussion on the Role of Think Tanks amid Geoeconomic Uncertainties
Moderator: Norbert Funke, Director, CCAMTAC, International Monetary Fund, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Panelist I: Jin Zhang, Vice President, Center for International Knowledge on Development (CIKD), Beijing, the PRC
Panelist II: Zeeshan Salahuddin, Director, Center for Regional and Global Connectivity, Tabadlab, Islamabad, Pakistan
Panelist III: Tuvshintugs Batdelger, Director, Economic Research Institute, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Panelist IV: Mahir Humbatov, Chairman of the Board, Economic Scientific Research Institute (ESRI), Baku, Azerbaijan
13:00 – 13:50
CAREC Think Tank Network Progress and Initiatives by the CTTN Secretariat
Moderator: Khalid Umar, Coordinator, CAREC Think Tank Network
CAREC Think Tank Network Progress Report
Speaker: Batsaikhan Zagdragchaa, Senior Strategic Planning Specialist, CAREC Institute
CTTN Blog Launch
Speaker: Dzhovid Khuseinov, Networking and Partnerships Specialist, CAREC Institute
Suggestions and Feedback on the Network
13:50 – 14:00
Closing Reflections and Acknowledgements
Moderator: Jingjing Huang, Deputy Director One, CAREC Institute
14:00 – 15:00
Lunch @ U Café – First Floor
15:30 – 17:30
Networking and Visit to Euro-Asia Commodity and Trade Expo
About CAREC Think Tank Network
Established in 2017, the CAREC Think Tank Network (CTTN) is a network of leading think tanks from the member countries of the CAREC Program. Consistent with the CAREC 2030 objectives to promote policy dialogue among members and development partners and deliver and disseminate quality knowledge services for regional economic cooperation, the (CTTN) brings together leading regional think tanks to promote regional cooperation and integration (RCI) through shared ideas, information, and joint research. To this end, the CTTN administers a research grants program (RGP) to encourage member think tanks to undertake research on pressing regional issues and organize an annual CAREC think tank development forum (CTTDF) to serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Today the Network includes many prominent think tanks, universities and research institutions from 11 CAREC member countries (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, PRC, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).
The CAREC Think Tank Development Forum (CTTDF) is organized annually under the auspices of the CTTN. The forum has become an attractive platform for think tanks, academia, private sector and governments from the CAREC region and beyond to exchange views and knowledge on evolving regional and global policy challenges.