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Getting new projects starting

With the end of the Built Environment Symposium, the Festival of Ideas comes to a close – for now! With those who are leaving, the ideas and projects created in Alpbach will find new paths through Europe.

The European Forum Alpbach keeps moving. “This year’s Forum showed us not only Europe’s crossroads, but also possible future routes. Our task is now to act responsibly and sustainably on the basis of the knowledge collected and to pursue the right path,” Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach, takes stock. It’s a beginning for change – changes to old structures, thinking models and prejudices. “We live in a Europe of many speeds. Equalities and inequalities can be seen at all social levels,” adds Philippe Narval, Managing Director of the Forum. One example is the “Digital Gap” between those with a good command of new digital technologies and those who have no access to them. But inequalities in the classroom, in the workplace as well as on the world market push the ideal of “equality of opportunity” further back. In order to tackle these developments and find possible solutions, the European Forum Alpbach will take up the cause of “InEquality” as the general topic next year. Between August 19 and September 4, 2015, it will be necessary “to look for equality where differences divide, and to promote inequality where conformity hems progress,” emphasises Fischler.

 Alpbach as a source of new ways and ideas

A total of 13 projects were initiated by the young entrepreneurs in the framework of the Economic Symposium. These included a new networking programme between academia and the economy and a communication campaign for successful EU economics projects. The experts from the Alpbach-Laxenburg Group, including the Indian economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the director of Tsinghua University Jining Chen and Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland, formulated position papers on global education and energy questions, which they will develop further over the course of the coming years. During the Health Symposium, 220 experts compiled answers to future questions on topics such as big data, neuroscience and genetics, and found ways of better integrating healthcare into all areas of life. The participants in this year’s Higher Education Symposium discussed what universities have to prepare their graduates for, in light of current changes.

Exciting minds from all over the world

Renowned speakers from various fields accompanied and inspired the debates. The highlights included appearances by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, the star economists Jeffrey D. Sachs and Branko Milanovic, as well as the food for thought provided by the former WTO Secretary General Pascal Lamy, the Czech economist Tomás Sedlacek,the UN refugee camp manager Kilian Kleinschmidt and the British health expert Ellen Nolte. The diverse cultural programme called greats such as the world-renowned wrapping artist Christo to the stage and impressed the visitors with moving photographs from the UNHCR Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (“Let the Children Play”) and the protest movement in Ukraine (“Alpbach Maidan”).

Young people engaging with Europe

Youth engagement brought a breath of fresh air to the Forum: representatives from all of the Alpbach Initiative Groups signed a “Charter for Diversity”. Scholarship holders from Ukraine drew attention to the current conflict in their country with a flashmob in the Erwin-Schrödinger-Saal during the Political Symposium. The journalists from the Alpbach Media Academy reported the goings-on of the whole conference from the perspective of young people. The short, concise version can be viewed at, while for more critical analysis, turn to

4,000 visitors, including 750 scholarship holders and numerous day guests from in total 64 countries shaped the image of the last 16 days. Overall, the European Forum Alpbach offered 779 hours of programme, with 60 podium discussions and 75 breakout sessions