About Aspen Public Policy Programs

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. By engaging with public decision-makers from the start of the reflection process, in an informal and informed dialogue, mutual ownership of our policy recommendations is fostered.

Program Track Record – Aspen Economic Opportunities & Financing the Economy Program

Aspen New Economy & Society Program is based on the activities of the Aspen Economic Opportunities & Financing the Economy Program, which was the name of the Program between 2017 and 2020.

Under the umbrella of Aspen Economic Opportunities & Financing the Economy Program a community was created comprising multiple stakeholders from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors, aiming to identifying key constraints and untapped opportunities facing the existing economic, investment, and development model of Romania and to formulate public policy recommendations regarding investment prioritization, public and private resources mobilization and complex projects implementation capacity. To achieve this, since its launch in September 2017, the program addressed three major topics:

  • Identifying a wider range of viable financing sources for large infrastructure projects
  • Setting priorities for public & private resources for key infrastructure projects capable of unleashing the country’s potential
  • Identifying policy solutions with a positive effect on reversing rising inequality, closing economic disparities among subgroups, reduce poverty and revive growth in lagging regions within country, thus enhancing economic mobility for all.

The public policy recommendations of the 2017 – 2018 edition of the Program were compiled in a  White Paper, which also provides an Index (Economic Development and Opportunities in Romania: Local Business Environment Index (LBEI). The White Paper, written by Clara Volintiru and George Ştefan, from the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, was presented during a dedicated panel at Bucharest Forum 2018;

The main topics addressed during the 2019 program iteration were related to financial education and financial inclusion, especially in rural areas and lagging regions. In addition, subjects concerning the role of digitalization in promoting financial inclusion and improving the quality of financial services were also addressed.

The core deliverables of the 2019 edition included:

The 2020 program edition continued to be animated by the valuable intellectual contribution of Clara Volintiru, Associate Professor in the Department of International Business and Economics, the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE), and benefited from the valuable support of:

  • Program Partners: Unicredit, Mastercard, Raiffeisen Bank
  • Institutional Partners: Government of Romania, Ministry of Public Finance, Romanian National Bank, Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority, Ministry of Public Works, Development and Administration, Ministry of European Funds, Ministry of Transport
  • Knowledge Partners: EBRD, World Bank, EIB

The 2020 edition addressed the various changes in our society emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, and the formulation of a new social contract between the business sector, government, and society. Workshop discussions will cover the new measures needed in support of the economy and the financial sector (e.g. moratorium for liquidity challenges, state guarantees for credit lines to businesses). Additionally, the program continued to pursue some of the topics addressed in 2019, such as financial inclusion, financial education, new technologies in the financial sector (including regulatory perspectives), addressing subnational disparities and developing avenues of collaboration between the financial sector and various representatives of local communities in order to promote inclusive growth and improve the access to capital. Furthermore, the Program discussed economic resilience, in the sense of a being able to foresee, adapt to, and make the best of changing conditions in the global economy, including being able to recover quickly from economic downturns.

The 2020 Program deliverables included:

  • Three thematic workshops for the Program Community on the major topics identified, issuing key policy recommendations:
    • The first workshop took place under the form of a Webinar on Post-Crisis Growth and Access to Capital in Romania, on May 7, 2020. The webinar took stock of the various changes in our society emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, and the challenges that both the public and the private sector are facing. It discussed economic resilience, in the sense of a being able to foresee, adapt to, and make the best of changing conditions in the global economy, including being able to recover quickly from economic downturns. The report of the event can be found here.
    • The second workshop also took place as a webinar, on July 2, 2020. The topic of the webinar was The Impact of Digitalization on the Post-Pandemic Economic Model. The webinar focused on the perspectives for a new post-pandemic economic model, emphasizing the role of digitalization at public and private sector level in stimulating post-crisis economic growth. The report of the event can be found here.
    • The third workshop/webinar of the Program took place on November 23, 2020, on the topic of New Mechanisms for Financing the Economy. The webinar analyzed how Romania can benefit from the new and complex mechanisms of financing the economy across Europe. The report of the event can be found here.
  • White Paper with public policy recommendations to the relevant decision makers.
  • Dedicated Panel at Bucharest Forum 2020, on the topic of Economic Recovery and the Pandemic(October 12, 2020), during which the main recommendations of the 2020 program iteration will be presented in a prominent public setting.
  • A customized Aspen Leadership Seminar for the program community (online, November 16 – 19, 2020).

Program Rebranding and Plans for 2021

The 2021 edition will develop a broader perspective on the issues we are facing as a result of the Covid19 crisis and the overlapping socio-economic challenges our societies’ face. Under the new name of New Economy & Society program, we will further engage in a constructive and focused dialogue on multi-stakeholder solutions. It is more urgent than ever to build an effective collaboration between the public and the private sector. The program will address three interconnected themes that reflect the way forward out of the crisis for the Romanian economy and society. As part of the European and national efforts to offer support for the recovery and resilience of our society, a first event will address the way in which public and private stakeholders can contribute and benefit from the new financial instruments. Some sectors and businesses have not only managed to survive, but also to thrive during the economic crisis of the past year. Their business model and their strategies are a source of inspiration in the development of more resilient national economies. We will focus on the capabilities of economic agents and the sources of success for resilient businesses. Beyond the urgent health crisis, we still have to face the persistent challenges related to climate change. The new economic model across Europe and America will be fundamentally linked to the climate economy. The program will address the way Romanian businesses and governmental actors can engage efficiently and timely with the new tendencies in this field and mediate the potential negative impact the transition can have in certain sectors and regions. Additionally, the program will continue to pursue some of the topics addressed in previous years, such as financial inclusion, financial education, and new technologies in the financial sector.

The 2021 Program deliverables will include:

  • Working level meetings of the Task Force with the participation of key stakeholders, focusing on identifying priorities for the Program.
  • Three thematic workshops for the Program Community on the major topics identified, issuing key policy recommendations.
  • A White Paper with public policy recommendations to the relevant decision makers.
  • A Dedicated Panel during Bucharest Forum 2021, during which the main recommendations of the 2021 Program iteration will be presented in a prominent public setting.
  • A customized Aspen Leadership Seminar for the program community.
  • An Overview Volume reflecting the main insights of the whole four-year program events and discussions, for public dissemination.