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June 6th

The Concordia Europe Summit kicked off Day 1 in Athens, Greece on June 6th. 

Welcome Remarks

Concordia Co-Founders, Nicholas Logothetis and Matthew Swift, welcomed speakers and guests to the inaugural Concordia Europe Summit in Athens. World leaders were convened, during a very pivotal time, to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the European continent, including the mounting refugee crisis, the rise of populist parties, and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Logothetis and Swift presented Concordia’s mission: building partnerships for social impact, emphasizing the importance of these collaborations in creating a sustainable future and long-lasting change.

Opening of the Summit

His Excellency Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, discusses the top issues he believes form the basis of the Europe Summit: the international role of Europe and the United States and the question of economic growth, particularly on the basis of public-private partnerships. In his remarks, Pavlopoulos emphasizes the need for international collaboration in order to pave the way for the interests of both Europe and the U.S. to be achieved, including climate change, development, economic prosperity, and war. Through this collaboration, fundamental elements of each country, such as peace and democracy, can expand their reach. Additionally, His Excellency addresses Greece’s role in inspiring a strong and integrated Europe rooted in the principal of solidarity. 

EU-US Relations:

Opportunities for Trade, Investment, and Growth

The US and the EU currently have the largest bilateral trade relationship in the world, totaling $1.1 trillion in 2014. This transatlantic trade route not only accounts for billions of dollars a day in goods and services, but also millions of jobs across both continents. Concordia hosted a fireside chat between former President of the European Commission and former Prime Minister of Portugal, José Manuel Barroso, and Editor-in-Chief of Kathimerini Greek daily newspaper, Alexis Papahelas, to discuss aspects of and opportunities for the US and EU’s economic relationship. This conversation included an analysis of what has contributed to the robustness and strength of the world’s largest trade relationship and what lies ahead as technology, innovation, power dynamics, and politics continue to change in our increasingly interconnected world.

 

SEE THE PHOTOS

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Only with a sense of ownership, agreement on policies, and common goals among national leaders can European cities be reconciled with the EU.
  • The EU should engage Russia with firmness, while simultaneously avoiding futile confrontation.
  • Barroso views Brexit as a mistake. Despite this, if a country leaves the union, it will not cause a systemic problem.
  • Currently, populism is a serious challenge to society. However, the election of French President Emmanuel Macron is a positive step.
  • Barroso stated that Turkey is not ready to enter the EU, which should be firm on its principles of democracy.

Building a Culture of Leadership:

Realizing the Private Sector’s Impact Potential

An organization’s potential for social impact is largely influenced by the corporate ethos and values cultivated by its leadership. Balancing needs to meet market demands and remain competitive, while also integrating sustainable business practices, is no easy task. In this session, Muhtar Kent, Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company, reflected on lessons learned from his tenure as the CEO of a renowned multinational organization and posit recommendations for the private sector to rise to the challenge presented by the SDGs by 2030.

 

SEE THE PHOTOS

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • In order to become more sustainable, organizational leadership needs to embrace the SDGs as part of its business strategy.
  • Geopolitical, social, economic, and communications disruptions have changed the CEO’s role; they now focus on continuously digitizing their brand and optimizing communication between the brand and consumers.
  • Despite America’s shrinking middle class, Kent is optimistic that innovation and technology will reinvent and reintroduce new jobs.
  • In order to bring about social change, CEOs need to devote time to incubators and idea generation techniques that will help create public-private partnerships.

Going Global:

Scaling Local Partnerships in Health, Education, and Community Development

When developing public-private partnerships for social impact, organizations aim to facilitate innovative programs that are sustainable and scalable beyond the local level. In this session, the Athens Partnership in Greece and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA) in the US were highlighted as case studies of organizations promoting the value of strong cross-sector collaboration, which can spark innovation and help local, national, and global leaders alike to rethink their paths to social and economic impact. In addition to the essence of public-private partnerships, speakers in this session discussed the importance of community engagement in public improvement projects, the power of digital technology, and the ability to improve education outcomes and workforce development through early intervention.

 

SEE THE PHOTOS

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Timing, financing, and transparency are some of the main issues that affect partnership outcomes.
  • Real change is often achieved through cross-sector collaboration at the mayoral level. Mayors ensure people on the ground are receiving agency and empowerment, not just aid.
  • Successful partnerships engage civil society and result in community buy-in.
  • People are at the center of public-private partnerships, and partnerships of any kind. The vehicle of a public-private partnership puts citizen leaders at the center

European Action for Sustainability:

Investing in Partnerships to Achieve the SDGs

From infrastructure to sanitation to education to hunger, there are many investment opportunities for the private sector to both increase profits and contribute to global socio-economic development. According to a 2014 UNCTAD report, developing countries face a $2.5 trillion annual investment gap in key sustainable development sectors. Private sector investments can be maximized by collaboration with the public sector to complement public funding capabilities, increasing impact and scale. Additionally, the private sector’s role in promoting good governance in business practices must not be understated; transparency and accountability are key in maintaining strong relationships between businesses, governments, and civil society. This session sought to identify and prioritize tangible opportunities for investment, while also addressing challenges to collaboration to achieve the SDGs.

 

SEE THE PHOTOS

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Technology can help businesses achieve the SDGs by empowering people who are focusing on political will, business leadership, and citizenship.
  • Governments have the opportunity to be the facilitator of partnerships and bridge the gap between the public and private sectors.
  • Vaeza-Baque believes that since the gender gap exists not only in political leadership but also in business leadership, the SDGs should push companies towards hiring more women by 2030.
  • Zatler thinks countries need to view partnerships as complementary but complicated endeavors, especially during the European refugee crisis.
  • To ensure equality, human rights should be respected at every step when implementing the SDGs.