Topics of the YES! 2016

At the YES! – Young Economic Summit urgent challenges of our time are being discussed, for which it is important to find creative solutions. The topics are divided into the following categories: Your Economy, Your Governance, Your Society und Your Environment. The YES!-topics are chosen by the participating students, and they work intensively on them during the project time.


It’s your economy. You are the economy.


Your Economy


Your Governance


Your Society


Your Environment

The students come up with creative solution proposals and present them in English at a two-day student conference on September 22 and 23, 2016 in Kiel.


Approximately 400 participants, other students and representatives from politics, business, academics, and civil society, will discuss the ideas of the next generation.


Part of the topics stems from the Global Economic Symposium (GES), which is organized by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) in cooperation with ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Other topics are presented by the editorial staff of Wirtschaftsdienst and Intereconomics.  Furthermore, researchers from the IfW provide topics.

Your Economy

Trade Agreements

Trade agreements though being targeted to raise the welfare of all participants are increasingly difficult to negotiate between countries.


Compared to previous agreements, not only the “usual culprits” of vested interest groups like domestic producers fight against opening borders to new competitors. The new source of resistance is the well-informed citizen. He or she fears a de-democratization of rulemaking, a race to the bottom in consumer protection, a degradation of social standards and the violation of environmental sustainability.


The agreement of the future has to include the citizen as a stakeholder form the very beginning.


How could an ideal trade agreement look like under such preconditions? Should it be bilateral, plurilateral (with more than two partners) or global? Should it address conflicting targets or should it concentrate on efficiency goals like in the past leaving other objectives to other agreements? Should it be reversible or irreversible? Who should be the guardian or trustee of those parties who do not sit in the negotiation room?


Find more information here.

Sharing Economy

Digitalization changes markets and thus, our business activities. Via Web 2.0 technologies, it is easy for us to make resources temporarily available for other users.


The systematic borrowing of goods and the mutual provision of space is called sharing economy. In this form of sharing, the own possession of resources plays a minor role. The focus lies on collaborative consumption.


Sharing economy comes with the hope that resources will be used more efficiently and thus, both economic and environmental benefits can be achieved.


When is “using” instead of “owning” beneficial? What does this change in consumption behavior implies for markets? What economic concepts are behind this idea? What rules of conduct must be implemented to embellish a fair sharing economy and prevent free riding? When are we in need for regulation of the new business models? How does it affect tax authorities? Who will get the rents of the transactions? How will the sharing economy influences our daily lives?


Find more information here.

Your Governance

Financial Governance

Financial markets are notoriously imperfect in at least two ways. First, they deny credit seekers without valuable collateral access to the capital market, thus, violating the principle of inclusiveness. People with a low income are mostly affected by this. Second, for projects with a long time horizon and probably high positive externalities (which are hard to measure in most cases) risk assessment is very difficult and therefore, financial institutions are not willing to grant credits on this basis. But many sustainable and eco-friendly projects fall under this category.


Green Finance can make an important distribution to sustainable development of developing and emerging countries. Especially when dealing with a resource efficient economic development and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the financial industry can play an important part and can influence the development path of those countries substantially.


Inclusive Finance refers to the accessibility of financial products by everyone (including poor individuals). Microcredits are one example how financial inclusiveness can be achieved; crowd-funding is another. Modern communication systems could dissolve information asymmetries, which are one reason why loans for the poor fail frequently.


Increasingly, a set of rules for the financial sector is required, which takes the objectives of sustainability and inclusiveness into account.


How to design financial governance to achieve sustainability and inclusiveness? Who should be in charge to formulate and implement such rules? How to balance the financial market’s needs for collateral and the attempt to foster green and inclusive investments?


Find more information here.


In former times, trade meant carrying goods from one country in the world to another country, mostly via sea. This is not yet obsolete.


The telecommunication revolution has triggered two processes of substitution. In addition to physical transport, trade today involves the transmittance of knowledge and information from one country to another in order to allow the physical production of the good close to the consumer. Such transmittance is trade in services and it could substitute for trade in goods (see the 3-D printing technology). The second process of substitution is within trade in services.


This revolution does not make the world borderless but it changes the design of borders. Instead of physical borders between countries, virtual borders between residents and nor-residents in the web emerge. Borders are intended to protect people and to control who is coming in and goes out. Virtual borders have to control the in- and outflow of data and knowledge and to secure that personal or firm data are neither abused nor manipulated or stolen. This is a global governance task and so far it is unfulfilled.


The second governance task comprises the challenge of the digital revolution for equity. New technologies in combination with trade have proven to make the income distribution within countries more unequal while eroding the income gap between countries.


Which rules are necessary to cope with these two governance tasks? Which is the best way to make these rules operational? How can we ensure that the inventors of the technologies, the silicon valleys of the world, have these challenges on their screens right from the beginning?


Find more information here.

Both on a national and an international level, it prevails large disagreement how to deal with thousands of refugees who search asylum in the European Union. Many governments try to find single-handed solutions to “protect” themselves against the influx of refugees.


A common approach to deal with the “refugee crises” seems appropriate, especially with regard to the free movement of labor in the European Union and the freedom of movement of persons within the Schengen area. But currently no such solutions are in sight.


How could a sustainable strategy to distribute refugees among EU states look like? How to organize a permanent accomodation of refugees in transit countries? How can the EU agree on a common approach, in which the interests of the nation states, as well as the EU and especially the refugees are safeguarded? How to coordinate with neighbouring countries which are not part of the EU, in order to alleviate the pressure on the EU countries?


Find more information here.

Your Society

Bringing Refugees into Work (c) Shutterstock / alexskopje

Around the world almost 60 million people are forcibly displaced according to the UNHCR. Both while they are displaced and when they return to their often utterly destroyed country of origin, finding a livelihood that does not depend on transfers is possibly the most important economic challenge.


However, there are relatively few policy options that go beyond providing some basic skills that might foster economic success in the labor market. Labor market integration is often very difficult, i.e., where their skills do not match those demanded by employers.


How can we achieve integration of refugees into the labor market? How can we foster entrepreneurship in order to generate rapid economic growth? How can we bring many people into work and prosperity?


Find more information here.

Future Cooperation between EU and Turkey

Turkey agreed to step up its border controls to help curtail the inflow of refugees into the European Union. In return, the EU promised to provide Turkey with substantial financial support to host refugees, to speed up the work on easing Schengen visa requirements, and to revive Turkey’s accession process to the EU.


The new flexibility in dealing with Turkey’s previously frozen accession process, however, comes at a time when Turkey’s political scene is marked by deep polarization and a state of democracy that has come under increasing international criticism.


How can the cooperation between Turkey and the EU be shaped in the future? Which forms of cooperation are possible? Who should be involved in the whole process (NGOs, civil society) to get to the most favorable outcome for everybody involved?


Find more information here.

One classical example for nudging is a small soccer goal in a urinal. This little measure alone leads men to aim better and reduces the amount of urine on the floor of public men’s room by 80%. This sounds like a fun example but nudges can be used in all kinds of settings.


Nudging is a term from behavioral economics. It is a method to influence people’s behavior in a predictable manner, without the use of imperatives or prohibitions or the change of economic incentives.


The so called “libertarian paternalism” and the according choice architecture nudges people gently into a direction which is, from the viewpoint of the actor, good for them. The crucial point is that this happens without the restriction of peoples’ freedom.


A critical examination of this new policy instrument seems to be indicated, since it suggests a “superior knowledge” of the actors.


Who is allowed to use this instrument to influence others? Who determines the “wise” decision? What considerations define a “smart” decision? How to ensure that nudges are used openly and transparently to prevent manipulation and paternalism? What should be the overall goal of nudging interventions (for example, social welfare, and personal autonomy)? What to do when the overall goals are mutually exclusive?


Find more information here.

Your Environment

Environmental degradation and resource depletion threaten the sustainability of economic growth in the developed world, and build enormous pressures in the developing world as it strives to match the West’s prodigal lifestyle.


Both issues can be addressed by the Circular Economy (CE): if we stop generating waste, and re-use and recycle resources, we avoid environmental degradation and stave off resource depletion. But, the financial realities of (mostly) capitalist societies make so many recycling initiatives unattractive.


How can we put a functioning Circular Economy into action? How to raise public awareness for the need of a Circular Economy? How to secure the industries’ support and the support of private households for Circular Economy?


Find more information here.

According to estimates of the UN, until 2050 more than 6 billion people will be living in cities. Without fundamental changes, the existing cities will collapse under the inflow of roughly 2 billion villagers coming to the city centers in the search of a better life.


One big challenge, but also an opportunity, is the design of urban development in a way that it suits the needs of the people living in urban areas. Eine große Herausforderung, aber auch Chance, besteht darin, die Stadtentwicklung so zu gestalten, dass die urbanen Räume optimal auf die Bedürfnisse der Milliarden von Menschen zugeschnitten sind. Clever urban concepts take important issues, like the environment, economic development, health care, transportation, and education, into account.


The term “Smart Cities” refers to the integration of information and communication technologies in urban planning, in order to optimize infrastructure (such as administration, transportation, community services, hospitals, power plants or law enforcement). Quality of life in cities shall be improved with the help of technical, economic and social innovations.


How to design Smart Cities? Which innovations are necessary and where to start? How to protect personal data? Which stakeholders should be part of the planning and implementing smart cities? How can Smart Cities improve resource efficiency?


Find more information here.

Infrastructure is an essential ingredient for sustainable economic development and global prosperity.



An inadequate infrastructure has adverse effects on human well-being especially in low and middle income countries. Estimates point out that total annual investment needs amount to 3.7 trillion USD globally to achieve the targeted growth objectives, leaving an infrastructure investment gap of roughly one trillion USD a year at current investment rates.


We are in critical need to define sustainable development pathways that include parameters of human well-being, the environment and global climatic conditions alongside GDP growth figures.


How could indicators for sustainability look like? How to build frameworks and procedural strategies for sustainable infrastructure to be implemented by governments? What could be a consensus on levers that tip the balance toward sustainable projects? How to reduce the use of resources when realizing infrastructure projects? How to prevent the implementation of infrastructure projects that become redundant in a short time?


Find more information here.

In continuation and expansion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the United Nations agreed on 17 „Sustainable Development Goals“. During the next 15 years, countries are supposed to put in a lot of effort to end all forms of poverty, overcome inequalities and tackle climate change.


Goal #14 reads: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development


The oceans are essential for life on earth as we know it. They oceans driven global eco-systems and were always important for trade and commerce. The problem of competing utilization, a public use on the one hand (security of life) and a commercial use on the other hand (as a pollutant sink, source of resources and transport), is concentrated here. A long term balance must be established between those competing utilizations. Therefore, a prudent management of oceans and marine resources is key to a sustainable future.


How to ensure a sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources? How to quantify and measure a sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources? Which measures must be taken to achieve the goals formulated by the UN and what can each and every one of us do to play his/her part?


Find more information here.

Pictures (top to bottom): (c) shutterstock / Ahmetov_Ruslan, (c) shutterstock / a-image, (c) shutterstock / Florence-Joseph McGinn, (c) shutterstock / Archiwiz, (c) shutterstock / TheaDesign, (c) shutterstock / alexskopje, (c) shutterstock / Borislav Bajkic, (c) shutterstock / Lightspring (c) shutterstock / P. Chinnapong, (c) shutterstock / petovarga,  (c) Fotolia / Wolfgang Zwanzger, (c) shutterstock / Creativa Images.