The Public Policy Programs of the Aspen Institute Romania seek to improve the formation of policy through transparent, non-partisan, evidence-based, multiple stakeholders’ dialogue. Based on the Aspen Method, our programs offer public decision-makers, private stakeholders and representatives of the non-governmental and academic sectors an exceptional platform for reflection, aiming to reach consensus on concrete policy recommendations in Romania’s most relevant policy fields. The added value of Aspen Policy Programs is that we engage with public decision-makers from the start of the reflection process, in an informal and informed dialogue, fostering mutual ownership of our policy recommendations.

Technological innovations are reshaping industries and disrupting existing businesses and operating models. However, technology also has a powerful impact on citizens, shaping society and presenting a series of opportunities and challenges for policy-makers and businesses. On the one hand, global trends such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, as well as automation and data exchange in manufacturing, bring numerous social and economic benefits to the citizens of countries and regions able to profit from these technological innovations. On the other hand, estimates of job losses due to digitalization run as high as 2 billion worldwide by 2030, according to a report by the World Economic Forum[1]. Furthermore, automation will unleash massive shifts in the labor force, leaving policy-makers with tough choices. Romania needs to be able to adapt and adopt coherent policies in order to profit from these new opportunities and mitigate negative spillovers, thus turning out to be a net beneficiary of technological innovations.

In this context, Aspen Technology & Society Program intends to create a platform for debate and a dedicated program community comprising multiple stakeholders from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors, interested in subjects covering technological developments and their impact on society, aiming to:

  • Contribute to the development of strategic sectors in Romania, that will create new jobs, mitigate the social risks and increase the country’s competitiveness, in the context of fast evolution of technology.
  • Contribute to public sector policies, frameworks and strategies about key domains that will be significantly impacted in the relevant future by the fast evolution of technology.
  • Create a community which can provide advisory support with regards to various technology related or technology impacted domains.

The topics which are addressed under the framework of the program include:

  • Automation & Technology, focusing on the impact of technology on manufacturing and automotive industries (e.g. electric cars), use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
  • Education, focusing on the impact of technology on education curricula (STEM), remote learning and virtual reality to new skills from operating drones and self-driving cars to the impact on transportation, logistics and delivery systems.
  • Information Technology, focusing on the impact of technology on Big data and Data analytics, cybersecurity, E-Health and cross-sectorial programs (e.g. e-government, innovation and competitiveness).
  • FinTech, focusing on the impact of technology on trade flows and the shift in payment preferences which are impacting the financial sector business model.

Under the 2019 program edition, the official launch of the Romania Communicates Initiative was organized by the Romanian Ministry of Communication and Information Society in partnership with the Aspen Institute Romania, on March 25, focusing on issues related to E-Government and cyber security. This cooperation will continue and other workshops will be organized on the key topics identified.

Between May 24th – 26th, 2019, a Transatlantic Leadership Seminar was organized, in partnership with Aspen Institute – Socrates Program (USA), with the support of The Bucharest Office of the German Marshall Fund of the US. The seminar explored the ways in which technology is transforming democratic societies and was moderated by Dr. Mischa Thompson, Policy Advisor at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission). The seminar addressed a diverse audience in terms of professional sectors (private, public, non-profit), background, gender, political affiliation, mainly active in diplomacy, political affairs, international relations, foreign affairs, defense policy, communication, technology and finance. The participants originated from Romania, as well as from the USA and from countries in the Black Sea region.