IFAIR at the 43. St. Gallen Symposium
“Rewarding Courage” was the lead topic of the 43. St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland this year. IFAIR’s executive board member Alexander Pyka participated as a “Leader of Tomorrow”. The Symposium brought together around 600 leaders of today with 200 so-called “leaders of tomorrow” who were selected based on merit and a global essay competition. Participants came together in several podium discussions, workshops and cultural events between April 30th and May 3rd.
The first and foremost experience I took home from this unique conference was, that it was truly international. What probably would have evolved into my peer group if the conference would have continued, was an astonishing mix of around nine people – that came from nine different countries. Nice to see once more, that the divides of our generation do not necessarily run along national border lines. In many cases I shared views and opinions with young people from South Africa, India, Canada or Mexico much more than with the surprisingly few Germans that attended. A great compliment to the organizers that they managed to arrive at a pretty good representation of most regions and countries of the world.
Secondly, the Symposium meets every (best) stereotype of Swiss’ organizational skills. It was a logistical masterpiece, running like a Swiss clock at every time. Not an easy task, when you consider that there were over 1000 people attending that had to be transported, participated in up to 15 workshop sessions simultaneously, just before all having to be in the same room again for a panel discussion.
The latter were of highest quality, as expected. Christine Lagarde (IMF), Ali Babacan (Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey) or Fu Ying (Chairwoman, Foreign Affairs Committee of Chinese Congress) were interviewed by the world’s leading journalists like Stephen Sackur (BBC, HARDtalk) or Nina Dos Santos (CNN). I had inspirational moments listening to the struggel of Mogadishu’s mayor Mohamoud Ahmed Nur or discussing the Arab Spring with Naguib Sawiris, one of the leading figures of the Egyptian revolution. On the other hand, the conference would have even further profited from more balanced panels and opposing views. Most of the panels were clearly biased towards a Thatcherist-liberal-economic view. Considering the >> [historical background] of the conference, this was no surprise. However – and irregardless of if you agree with such approach or not – the Symposium was always at its best, when people on the panels disagreed the most. A positive example of this is shown in the video above.
The 43. St. Gallen Symposium was an incredible experience, that I would like to recommend to everyone. Finally, my thanks go again to the International Students Committee (ISC) for making this wonderful conference a success.
Founder and Executive Board Member >> [Ansprechpartner]
Dr. Alexander Pyka is Co-Founder of IFAIR and programme coordinator for the Impact Group ”Fireside Chats Berlin”. He was a member of the executive Board until 2016. Alexander works at the public international law division at the German Federal Foreign Office. He wrote his doctoral thesis about the international sanctions regime against Iran while working as personal adviser to a former head of government. Alexander studied Law at Bucerius Law School, Germany and Tel Aviv University, Israel, as a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation. In 2013, he was selected “Global Leader of Tomorrow” by the St. Gallen Symposium, “Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leader” by the Diplomatic Courier in Washington D.C. and “Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum, Davos. Alexander speaks German, English, French and Spanish.