March 2012
Experts Discuss Public Policy Solutions at Batumi Conference

Improved collaboration between government, business, and civil society is essential to promoting economic growth in Georgia. This was the message sent by leading international and Georgian academics and practitioners at the “Public Policy in Action” conference in Batumi on March 16 and 17. The purpose of the conference was to explore how public policy can promote sustainable economic development in Georgia.

Conference panels devoted to financial reforms, education, and public-private partnerships examined the role of each of these phenomena in economic growth. Speakers at the conference emphasized that sustainable development requires long-term planning and commitment across sectors.

In his keynote speech, Robert Walsh, the New York City Commissioner for Small Business Services, highlighted successful public-private partnerships in New York City, and how similar strategies could spur economic growth in Georgia’s cities.

Other notable speakers included Aleksi Aleksishvili, the former Minister of Finance, who spoke about his administration’s successful financial reforms. Ilia State University Professor Nikoloz Kavelashvili built on Mr. Aleksishvili’s presentation by discussing what the government needs to do to further reform the financial sector and encourage more entrepreneurship.

During the education panel, Professor Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz of Columbia University sparked discussion with his recommendations for increased education spending targeted toward improving the quality of teaching at all levels.

In his closing remarks, Stephen Haykin, USAID Mission Director for Georgia, made a case for improved collaboration between government, business, and civil society. “Building a strong inter-sector network for economic growth will be a challenge, but it is absolutely imperative, both to such development and to the vitality of Georgian democracy,” he said.

The conference was organized by EWMI G-PAC, the Picker Center for Executive Education at Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs (SIPA , and Ilia State University (ISU) as part of EWMI G-PAC’s MPA Program at ISU.