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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
31/05/18 00:00

CASPIAN WEEK 2018 IN DAVOS: The end depends upon the beginning

This year’s annual Caspian Week focused on digital disruption in the global economy and took place in 2018, 23-26 January in Davos. Caspian Week is an annual meeting of visionaries, market leaders and experts


Caspian Week is a platform for global ideas, bringing together leading scientists, businessmen and politicians for in-depth discussions on the future of Caspian-Black Sea and Silk Road regions and their innovative role in the global economy. The annual conference has three goals: promotion of the interaction between Caspian Region and the world; improvement of cultural, political, business and scientific relations, introduction and implementation of innovations and new technologies to the Region. Caspian Week positions the Caspian region as vital to the future global economy.

In total 11 panels took place, 48 speakers participated and 1,200 guests attended Caspian Week. This year’s motto was ‘The end depends upon the beginning’ with a focus on new technologies and how they can impact value chains and how we can become active economic participants in respective sectors such as trading and logistics, education and health care. Thought leaders from Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IBM, Microsoft, Vodaphone, PWC and many other organizations shared their expertise.

Important insights from the conference included the notion that innovation would lead to structural improvements-, market disruptions and the emergence of new business models across all value chains. New technologies such as distributed ledgers-, artificial intelligence-; smart contracts and digital assets will enable 3.5 billion people to become financially included. Disintermediation will bring the principal economic actors closer together and enable over 200 million unbanked enterprises to gain access to financial markets.

During the first days of the conference many global issues were discussed, such as whether or not digital technology will revolutionize the quality and accessibility of education and if big data and artificial intelligence could be the solution to better healthcare.

One of the most successful panels was no doubt the Peak Debate: ‘Bitcoin is dead! Long live the Cybercurrencies! with Prof. Alexandre Swoboda, Mr. Michael Huttman, Dr. Daniel Heller and Mr. Jeffery Wernicke. This panel led to a flaming debate on the future influence of Bitcoin versus other Cybercurrencies. Are crypto currencies the future payment method? Which advantages and which risks are crypto currencies facing? Which requirements need to be implemented to successfully establish crypto currencies? The surprising outcome of the debate was that Bitcoin does not have a future and that other Cryptocurrencies will take over.

The last day of the conference was completely devoted to the Caspian region and the digital developments in the financial sector. The panelists were all leaders in the fields of industry, academia and policy. They discussed how the digital transformation would change value chains and how new technologies would change regional policies. They concluded that digitalization will allow manufacturers to automate their trading processes and supply chains. They did warn however, that digital transformation is not a one-way street. Excitement about novel technologies has a tendency to deviate our attention away from the real economic drivers. The overwhelming outcome forecasts the Caspian region as a center for global trade and developer of successful digital strategies.

The highlight of the Caspian Week 2018 was the launch of the Caspian Week Digital Award by Integral Petroleum and their partners. The Award supports ideas to mitigate the current inefficiencies in crypto mining and wants to stimulate a more energy-effective usage, whereby the surplus would be used for planning and logistical issues, or for instance weather forecast calculations. The Award is meant to motivate and engage the crypto mining communities to adapt their algorithms to allocate part of their computing power as a contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Caspian Week Digital Award offers a reward of in total US$ 1 million for the best ideas and solutions to cover the increasing demand in a way that is not only more efficient but at the same time is also more environmental friendly. The winners of the award will be announced during the Caspian Week 2019 in Davos.

Caspian Week Conference was organized with the support Integral Petroleum, a member of the World Economic Forum. Integral Petroleum is a Swiss trading and logistics company, one of the largest exporters and logistics providers for crude oil, petroleum products and soft commodities from the Greater Caspian Region, Central Asia and Central America. Integral Petroleum's team consists of a group of highly trained professionals with a thorough knowledge of international markets and long-standing relationships with key players in the market. The team is furthermore supported by sophisticated tools for trade and risk management. The company has a wide range of land and water transportation facilities, which provide a unique operational flexibility. This year, Integral Petroleum will celebrate its 10-year anniversary by developing new products and expanding into new markets.