The European Forum Alpbach (EFA) will take place from 18 August to 3 September. This year’s event will be hosted as a hybrid conference, which can be attended in person (analogously) or online (virtually). In addition, the EFA will realign its focus this year: Six symposia become four – Health, Technology and Politics (this includes law-related topics) and Economy (includes finance). The Seminar Week for scholarship holders will take place from 18 to 23 August. The EFA will be opened on 24 August with a speech given by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen. This year’s Forum is organised around three ‘tracks’, which are noticeable throughout all events, seminars and formats and will further strengthen the interdisciplinary character:
“The Climate Opportunity”
“Securing Our Future” and
“The Financing of Europe’s Future”.
The aim is to develop and implement ideas and concrete actions to meet the challenges Europe currently faces. “We urgently need answers to the questions: How can we secure our future, see the climate crisis as an opportunity, and how can we finance our ideas for Europe in the years and decades ahead?,” explains Andreas Treichl, President of the Forum. “Alpbach has been a place of brilliant minds, a place where intellectual exchange between scientists, experts from business, culture and politics has been encouraged and challenged, for the past 75 years. And it will remain that way.” The EFA-Steering Committee sees Europe at a crossroads. The role which Europe is able and willing to take on in the economical, technological race with the US and Asia will determine the kind of future Europe’s youth can be offered. “We want to explore these topics and discuss them in an interdisciplinary approach and develop solutions based on our analysis. We are aware of the fact that this can only succeed in collaboration with tomorrow’s generation”, says Werner Wutscher, Managing Director of European Forum Alpbach.
At the EFA 21, Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, and others will be discussing how Europe can be secured and made more attractive as a location for the pharmaceutical industry. Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, will be joining Axel Weber, Chairman of the Administrative Board of UBS, and others to explain not only how the Capital Markets Union can be used to finance European ideas for the future but also how to harness the strengthening innovative power of European businesses. Also at Alpbach, Tomas Pueyo, author and inventor of the “Hammer and Dance” concept, will be exploring post-Covid-19 perspectives and opportunities. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, regards the energy transition as a huge opportunity to make delivery chains sustainable and fair. Mathias Cormann, recently appointed Secretary General of the OECD, will be addressing urgent political matters as well as the new conception of our economy. Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome, will take on the topic of how CO2 reduction can serve as an opportunity for growth, innovation and diversity. In his keynote, Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research will be talking about the climate crisis as an opportunity, and identifying new possibilities. Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of North Macedonia, is attending the EFA to share his thoughts about where and how in the EU accession process the relationship between candidate country and the Community can yet be saved. Belarusian leader of the opposition Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will be talking to Colombe Cahen-Salvador, activist and co-founder of Now! and Forward about political influence and participation.
At the EFA, intergenerational dialogue is now being supported more than ever. The Forum took a first step in this direction this year with the EFAChallenges. In March more than 6,000 students and young professionals were invited to submit their solutions to the following questions: How can we mobilise everyone for climate protection? Europe is probably the best place to live in. How can Europe become one of the best places for innovations? What do we want Europe’s future to be and how can we bridge the existing internal divides? and “The Power of Urban Transformation: What will urban life look like in 2050?” “The Seminar Week has offered scholarship holders a diverse programme for many years. With the launch of the #EFAChallenges earlier this year, we have now found yet another tool to bring greater visibility to the ideas and thoughts of young minds. During the conference week they will be able to discuss the ideas they have been working on since March with decision-makers from all sectors”, says Werner Wutscher. The Seminar Week is the academic heart of the EFA and provides room for debate, interdisciplinarity and intergenerational dialogue. Following the pandemic-driven pause, Alpbach will once again be the leading platform for an innovative exchange of knowledge in August 2021. Responding to the challenges – particularly in view of the various international travel restrictions – the programme was divided into on-site seminars (18 to 24 August 2021) and digital workshops (21 to 23 August 2021). The contents of the seminars are organised around the thematic tracks.
"We urgently need answers to the questions: How can we secure our future, see the climate crisis as an opportunity, and how can we finance our ideas for Europe in the years and decades ahead?"
andreas treichl, president of the european forum alpbach
For years, arts and culture have been fostered as an interdisciplinary approach to the special topics of the EFA. International cultural institutions, artists and scholarship holders conceive and put into practice experimental and interdisciplinary works, which are especially crafted for the EFA and the village of Alpbach. They create rooms for inspiration and critical reflection. Based on the general theme, composer Olga Neuwirth will invite participants from widely different areas to talks throughout the day, and to a premiere of a sound installation. Artist Anna Artaker, whose artistic exploration processes deal with image production in the context of writing history, exhibits her installation OUTSIDE | INSIDE, in which she lists contributors from 75 years of Alpbach on the glass walls of the Congress Centrum Alpbach. Male names are easily readable from the outside, but female names can only be read when viewed from within the Centrum looking out.
According to the current statutory regulations and the EFA Safety and Prevention Concept, it is possible to welcome up to 1,000 participants per day in Alpbach between 18 August and 3 September. This number of guests also includes speakers, scholarship holders and partner delegations and roughly corresponds to half the number of attendees from previous years. As a result of this restriction, on-site participation this year will be based exclusively on invitation. Invitations will be sent to regular guests who have attended the EFA several times, and to the Forum’s international clientele. Should there be any changes to the Safety and Prevention Concept ahead of opening day, additional tickets for on-site participation will become available. We offer unlimited access to our greatly extended digital formats with immediate effect. Once again, the ÖBB will ensure our participants’ smooth and safe arrival. As mobility partner, ÖBB will provide a special shuttle bus service operating at higher frequencies in and around Albach for the period of the entire conference.
This year, Erste Group Bank AG will act as Main Partner. The motto #BelieveInEurope, which was developed for this partnership, unites the European Forum Alpbach with Erste Group in their conviction that it is essential to have places and formats to rethink and reflect. One of the outcomes of this partnership is the support of the new digital learning mission, the #EFAChallenges. As one of the largest financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe, Erste Group is convinced that the prosperity of the people in our region is only secured through a strong and united Europe. A Europe which keeps its promise of open borders, cooperation and a good life for all.
One longstanding partner of the EFA is the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT). In cooperation with ORF radio Ö1, AIT will once again be co-organiser of the Technology Symposium from 26 to 27 August in Alpbach. Crucial to all economic and societal transformation processes are technologies, such as digitalisation, artificial intelligence and quantum computers. At this year’s Alpbach Technology Symposium, particular attention will be paid to the aspect of “Human Centricity” – the consistent orientation of technologies towards the needs and values of people. The yearbook accompanying the Technology Symposium is also dedicated to this topic. Furthermore, the complex systems in which humans are embedded are the central focus of “Green Transition” and are equally addressed in arts contributions in the context of ARTTEC.
"Alpbach has been a place of brilliant minds, a place where intellectual exchange between scientists, experts from business, culture and politics has been encouraged and challenged, for the past 75 years. And it will remain that way."
andreas treichl, president of the european forum alpbach