26th Pontignano Conference: “Bridging the Gaps

A few months from the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, the main appointment on the Anglo-Italian agenda addresses the issue of gaps in our societies.

Siena, 20-22 September 2018, Certosa di Pontignano

The 26th edition of the Pontignano Conference, the most important appointment on the Anglo-Italian agenda, organized by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities, and by the British Embassy in Italy, in collaboration with the University of Siena and St. Antony’s College of Oxford, will take place in Siena from 20 to 22 September.

Presided over for the first time by Carlo Calenda, alongside David Willetts, this year’s special edition is entitled “Bridging the Gaps”. Experts in various fields and senior representatives of the London and Rome governments, including the British Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington and the Undersecretary of State at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers Giancarlo Giorgetti, will analyse the way in which it is possible today to bridge the gaps that characterize our societies at different levels.

Among the distinguished speakers, Diego Piacentini, Special Commissioner for the Implementation of the Italian Government Digital Agenda, Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation CEO, Marta Dassù, Director of European Affairs at the Aspen Institute, and Sir Julian King, European Commissioner for the Security Union.

Two days before the start of the Conference, the British Ambassador to Italy, Jill Morris, said:

The last three years have highlighted the great differences existing within our societies. If these disparities were expressed by means of referendum consultations or policies that showed clear differences, primarily at a geographical, demographic and generational level, the causes can often be traced to several “gaps” due to the different degree of access to information or technological advancement, knowledge or skills.

In Pontignano we will discuss the ways in which to overcome these disparities and fill the gaps within our societies and between countries, confident in the special ties that will continue to characterize the relationships between Italy and the United Kingdom, even after our exit from the European Union.

The conference will start on Thursday, September 20th at 18:00 at the Aula Magna of the University of Siena. After the greetings from the co-presidents, Carlo Calenda and David Willetts, and from the Dean of the University of Siena, Prof. Francesco Frati, the proceedings will officially start with a presentation by Daniel Susskind, researcher at the University of Oxford and author of the essay “The Future of the Professions”, on the impact of new technologies and Artificial Intelligence on societies and the labour market.

The conference will continue on Friday and Saturday behind closed doors, in compliance with the Chatham House Rule, at the Certosa di Pontignano, just outside Siena, articulating around four thematic areas that will allow participants to tackle some fundamental issues for the future of our countries and Europe.

Culture & Society: The Impact of New Technologies

  • Introduced by Stephen Milner, Director of British School at Rome
  • Moderated by Massimo Gaggi, Senior Correspondent at Corriere della Sera

Smart Universities and Cities: Reducing inequality

  • Introduced by Sir Anton Muscatelli, Professor of Economics, Principal of the University of Glasgow
  • Moderated by Francesca Bria, Chief Technology and Digital Innovation Officer at the Barcelona City Council

Business and Innovation: From Idea to Investment and Impact

  • Introduced by Sir Mark Walport, UK Research and Innovation CEO
  • Moderated by Diego Piacentini, Government Commissioner for the Digital Agenda

Defense and Security: Future-proofing our Shared Security

  • Introduced by Marta Dassù, Senior Director of European Affairs at the Aspen Institute
  • Moderated by Sir Julian King, European Commissioner for the Security Union