SPIEF 2021 was the first business event of such magnitude to be held offline since the unavoidable break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum closely resembled previous editions of the event, with a range of cutting-edge digital technologies employed. Among those to attend were President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin; a host of global leaders; senior executives from major Russian and international companies and banks; and prominent scientists, journalists, and members of the business community.
The Forum was held under the theme A Collective Reckoning of the New Global Economic Reality, and addressed the clear need to return to face-to-face discussions in an attempt to turn innovative ideas into tangible breakthroughs across the globe. Indeed, the business programme alone included more than 190 events, with more than 80 events organized at special thematic areas.
The Forum’s main event was the plenary session, which took place on 4 June and featured President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Joining the session via video link were specially invited guests Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria. Also welcoming participants were Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina, and Jair Messias Bolsonaro, President of Brazil.
The Forum featured talks and appearances by more than 1,300 Russian and international speakers, moderators, and politicians over the course of four days. Together, they were able to share their knowledge, experience, and best practices with participants.
Discussions at the Forum centred around four thematic pillars, with each one dedicated to particular aspects concerning the Russian and global economy, the social sphere, and the tech agenda. These were entitled “Joining Forces to Advance Development”, “Delivering on National Development Targets”, “The Human Factor in Responding to Global Challenges”, and “New Technology Frontiers”.
A range of business dialogues between Russia and other countries/regions were also held, and as in previous years garnered particular interest. Eleven such events took place at SPIEF 2021, including Russia–Qatar, Russia–France, Russia–Africa, Russia–Italy, Russia–Latin America, Russia–Germany, Russia–North America, Russia–Finland, Russia–Sweden, Russia–Japan, and Russia–ASEAN.
Another event to take place at SPIEF was the 6th Russian Small and Medium sized Enterprises Forum, which focused on measures to support businesses.
The International Youth Economic Forum was one of the highlights of the closing day of SPIEF. Young entrepreneurs, students, and leaders from non-profit organizations gathered to talk to renowned international experts about today’s biggest economic and political issues.
This year’s SPIEF hosted the inaugural edition of the Drug Security Forum, the Creative Business Forum, and SPIEF Junior, which was attended by 200 school pupils from across Russia, together with their peers from Qatar – the guest country of the Forum.
FORUM GUESTS AND PARTICIPANTS
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum welcomed officials, leading figures in politics and society, and business representatives from 141 countries across the globe. Forty-three foreign ministers and 84 heads of diplomatic corps from 93 countries also took part in the Forum.
Many of the events on the SPIEF cultural programme took place as part of the St. Petersburg Seasons Festival, which hosted more than 30 events across a range of themes.
The central event of the St. Petersburg Seasons Festival was a tribute concert for medics and volunteers, which took place on 3 June on Palace Square, and which was enjoyed by locals, visitors, and participants alike. The concert featured performances by Diana Arbenina of Russian pop group Night Snipers and the Teatro Petruzzelli Symphony Orchestra (Bari, Italy).
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME
A range of events across 12 sporting disciplines were held under the sports and entertainment programme. SPIEF participants competed in basketball and football gala matches, as well as golf, chess, tennis, squash, and skeet shooting.
SPIEF INVESTMENT & BUSINESS EXPO
The SPIEF Investment & Business Expo was another feature of this year’s Forum. In total, 48 organizations and Russian regions took part as exhibitors, showcasing their investment potential, current projects, latest technologies, products, and solutions.
COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
An unprecedented set of sanitary and epidemiological requirements were in place for this year’s Forum.
All participants were required to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 in order for their accreditation badge to be activated. Only then were they able to access the venue. To enter the Forum venue, participants had to pass through checkpoints where they had their temperature measured with thermographic cameras and hand thermometers. Strict checks were also in place to ensure that people used personal protective equipment.
Indeed, one of the main outcomes of the Forum was that a set of safety standards had been drawn up for holding major events all over the world during the pandemic. These standards were developed by the Roscongress Foundation in cooperation with Rospotrebnadzor and the World Health Organization.
More information is available in the SPIEF 2021: Key Outcomes section.