Sustainable Investing is the Catalyst for Change

03_SwissEmbassy_Philipp Hildebrand_22Oct19-39

22 October 2019
By Diana Buraka

Philipp Hildebrand, Vice Chairman of BlackRock, spoke at the Swiss Embassy in London. His speech ‘Value and Value’ accentuated the importance of “sustainable investing” being a catalyst for change.

Hildebrand emphasised an indisputably rising demand for companies which aspire to capture opportunities and mitigate risks associated with the transition from a carbon-based economy. He reminded the audience, that just a decade ago, investors would simply have smirked at the idea of asset allocation primarily targeting social or environmental outcomes. Such a cynical attitude wasn’t entirely unreasonable, because even until recently, sustainably meant trading returns for values. Times have changed, and responsible investment is becoming an advantage rather than an obstacle.

Today, we already see the clear trend of many European asset owners asking for detailed information on how managers incorporate ESG guidelines into their investment strategy. Hildebrand is predicting that Millennials, who will be allocating their wealth over the next 15 years, will increasingly target companies with smaller carbon footprints. Hildebrand foresees that the focus of future investors will be on positive social and environmental outcomes, which will be the catalyst for change.

World Economic Forum and Swiss Arab Nights 2018 in Davos

davos_swiss arab network_diana buraka

Some of the most heated debates in Davos 2018 were centered around the challenges that AI and robotics pose to business.

The CEO of Google even suggested that AI will be bigger than fire or electricity in terms of business impact. These discussions were by far the most popular of the entire week and the questions always eventually turned to the impact on society, the role of human vs machine and how these relationships will develop.  It was noted that the most popular consumer AI interfaces, such as Alexa and Siri, default to female personae and, indeed, there was even serious talk of how humans may soon develop romantic relationships with AI.

But we’re not there quite yet and until we are, the best way for humans to interface with each other, especially when they seem to have culturally different operating systems, is to meet face to face at events such as the Swiss-Arab Network.davos_swiss arab network_diana buraka_02“The Swiss-Arab Network is not just about business”, says spokesman Slim Habli. “It’s also about building long-term relationships”davos_swiss arab network_diana burakaAnother central theme at Davos was the empowerment of women and this is an issue very important to the Swiss-Arab Network.

So whilst Alexa isn’t on talking terms with Cortana, and Siri stays aloof, the organisers of the Swiss-Arab Network are succeeding in their goals to empower (real) women and to help diverse cultures to join together and find common ground.davos_swiss arab network_diana burakaThis year the Swiss-Arab Networking event opens its doors in Davos on 23rd January 2019.

davos_swiss arab network_diana buraka

davos_swiss arab network_diana buraka


Life beyond death via Artificial Intelligence: Fancy living as an AI in a computer cloud?

by Diana Buraka

In a hedonistic AI cloud / Diana Buraka / image 1st photography

In a hedonistic AI cloud / Diana Buraka / image 1st photography

Today, on the day of my annual birthday re-incarnation, I was contemplating about an eternal immortality… not that I am excited about ‘still rocking it’ as an ancient and frail Granny, but who would resist the prospect of a wise mind in an everlasting fit body.

‘If Youth knew, if Age could…’ In Freudian times it was not possible to combine the wisdom of the Old with the drive of the Young. But this may change soon!

On my birthday, officially becoming one year wiser, I have discovered that some Artificial Intelligence researchers at MIT, are not far from limiting our human mortality problem merely to ‘a hardware problem’… Meaning, you can continue using your life-long accumulated knowledge and experience even after your death! But what about my body, you would ask…? Well…. this aspect still hasn’t been resolved yet.

A close brush with AI

A close brush with AI / Diana Buraka / MO-ST Photography

So, keep on working-out and training your abs, my friends, because for now your mind is able to continue its perpetual life only as an AI in a computer cloud, basically, in the absence of your current hot ‘body-line’! I am just hoping, my everlasting blonde brainy AI will end up in a hedonistic computer cloud, where adventurous and naughty thoughts are not censored by an antivirus software!

Digital Work Out for AI Featured: Diana Buraka Photographer: Simon Richardson

Digital Work-Out for an AI / Diana Buraka / Photographer: Simon Richardson

Sounds pretty outlandish to me… even comparing it to numerous ultra-innovative start-up ideas I have featured while covering the Start Global Summit 2018 in Switzerland, a couple of weeks ago.

Life beyond death, and how it works:

Nectome is an American company, founded in 2016 by AI researchers at MIT, which promises a path to immortality. There is a downside… it has to kill you to upload your brain to the cloud. Immortality, induced by a process guaranteed to end life, as you know it.

Never say never… who knows, some daredevil venture capitalists, without any capital, might be even prepared to complete the first funding round donating their own brains…

Nectome offers to preserve your brain forever.

The process starts with an assisted suicide: the arteries of a terminally ill yet still living person are flooded with embalming fluid, converting brain tissue into a map of neurons. From these, Nectome promises to upload your memories and consciousness.

Even though, Nectome does not have a functioning method yet, it hopes to enable an interaction between the uploaded brain and the external world.

And so, once upon a time, when our minds can be uploaded and then resurrected to live indefinitely within a computer simulation, the predictions of futurologist Ray Kurzweil about ‘The Age of Intelligent Machines’ will become reality: the moment when Artificial Intelligence will actually be able to outsmart human beings!

Carpe diem, enjoy the moment while it is still possible to be ‘The Smartest Guy in the Room’ and keep on working on your beach-body six-pack while it still matters!

By Diana Buraka

Ma Liaison Allemande – Meine Reise durch Köln – Art Cologne – City Tour Cologne

Art Cologne_April 2017_Diana Buraka

Cologne welcomed me with the warm breeze, contrasting rain and sunshine, but most importantly, with an uplifting feeling of a new start of an awakening spring season.

Pullman Cologne_view from the roof top bar_Diana BurakaMy city tour adventures started through the lively Breiten Strasse with its vibrant atmosphere of chilled Reggie tunes, and the local cafés and bakeries, beckoning me with the aroma of freshly baked pastries and neatly arranged breadbaskets.

Breite str_Koeln_Cologne_Diana BurakaColourful decorations of the Hussel Chocolate artisan shop caught my eye.
Chocolate is the answer, I thought to myself! It has been always known as ‘food for soul’. The chocolate may not solve your problems, but, hey, an apple won’t solve them either…! 🙂

Hussel_Koeln_Cologne_Best German Chocolate_Diana BurakaWhen entering the kingdom of Hussel Chocolate, I instantly knew, – ‘I don’t need to be nice anymore, as I can get the best sweets myself!’  🙂
My favourite pick were the hazelnuts coated in the dark chocolate. Truly irresistible! Obviously, the pack of those hasn’t ever reached an initially intended recipient, as I have instantly opened the Pandora’s box of chocolate indulgence.

Koelner Dom_Cologne Cathedral_Diana BurakaSpin forward: after catching few Sun rays by the Cologne Cathedral, I am at the piano bar of Excelsior Hotel sipping on a fresh mint tea with honey, while listening to the tunes of soulful piano jazz and planning my tour through the art galleries. I had a double luck: after the long conference the day before, it was the time to explore the best of this culturally rich city. And what a coincidence, – it was the opening day of Art Cologne (26-29 of April 2017)! Moreover, I was lucky to have a fine Art expert as my personal guide, who I happened to meet by chance on my way to Art Cologne.

Art Cologne is a contemporary art fair, where established international galleries like Ben Brown Fine Arts and White Cube from London, David Kordansky from LA, Pearl Lam from Hong Kong, and other global counterparts are joined by successful young gallery owners like Antoine Levi and Joseph Tang from Paris, Project Native Informant from London, Kai Matsumiya from NY and Teminkova & Kasela from Tallinn, my home Baltic region amongst others, overall showing works of around two thousand artists.

My personal top five selection of the international rising stars may not indicate the next Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons! Nevertheless, they would be serious contenders to replace the current artwork in my office and remind me of the short but sweet memories of my Cologne adventures.

Art Cologne_April 2017_Diana Buraka

Strictly Come Voting! The European Union through the paradigm of a professional dancer.

by Diana Buraka

As a performer, I see no harm in making emotional decisions, but when it comes to serious matters such as Britain’s membership of the European Union, the arguments should be more pragmatic than those of voting for the finalists of Britain’s Got Talent or Strictly Come Dancing…

There is not doubt, that Britain’s got talent, but together with Europe, it will have much more talent to make this country proud of its achievements! For example, on the International Dance scene, Britain has for years been represented by the Belgian dancer, Joanna Leunis and the Polish dancer, Michael Malitowski. For several years, Michael and Joanna were championing this country as victors in the World Dance Championship. Those talented dancers from the countries of the Brussels Eurocrats and the Polish plumbers were dedicating their art and careers for the glory of Great Britain… If Britain wasn’t welcoming multicultural talent from all over Europe, it would have never remained at the top of the international Ballroom dance scene.

Talking about couple dancing, there are many parallels in the principle of teamwork, and long-term relationship building as a basis for successful cooperation.

The European Union is just like any other relationship, which is not perfect, but it can bring great rewards, if there is a will to engage and to make it prosper.

The proof, is my own success as a professional dancer. It took us many years to shape our dance partnership to become French Champions in Latin American dancing and reap the rewards of our successful partnership on the international dance scene representing France. If Britain remains in Europe, it can shape European cooperation and will carve its unique role within, striving for a successful future together!

Diana Buraka_Intervieiwing Londoners

Does the UK benefit from the European immigration?

by Diana Buraka

To understand the vague logic behind the will to leave Europe, I decided to get on to the streets of London and to talk to those, who believe they will be better off turning their backs on their neighbours, naïvely hoping to continue benefiting from the European single market in the same friendly spirit.

Diana Buraka_Intervieiwing Londoners

While the Remain campaign talks about the real economy, Nigel Farage is relentlessly repeating the same old broken record on immigration, playing on emotional strings, that have nothing to do with logic or common sense. Slamming the doors in the face of skilled and talented Europeans, who make this country thrive by working and paying their taxes, is not the way to handle the immigration issue.

Nick, 58, from Woodford, is a souvenir stall keeper in the most touristic part of central London. I stopped at his stall and asked him, if he sells T-shirts with an “I’M IN” slogan. After thanking an Italian tourist for buying a souvenir from his stall, Nick turned to me and said: ‘I hope we leave Europe and stop the immigrants coming to Britain’. Considering what he said from a logical point of view, if there is anyone, who should be genuinely hoping for Britain to remain in the EU, it should be a souvenir vendor like Nick, otherwise, who will buy his souvenirs if not the foreigners, who flood into London?

Nick grumbled, that there are not enough jobs for everyone in the UK, but I told him that in Switzerland, a country that is outside the EU, where I lived and worked almost a decade, I have witnessed louder anti-immigration voices, as Switzerland, like any other country with a high standard of living, attracts newcomers in their pursuit for a better future. So, leaving the EU is no guarantee of fewer immigrants.

Let’s pray, that talented Europeans will still wish to remain in Britain after London loses its crown as the most multicultural and cosmopolitan city in Europe. And also, let’s hope that stall vendors like Nick will still have enough tourists to buy his souvenirs…

In my pursuit for a logical reason to leave Europe, I spoke to Mike, 52, a black cab driver from Greenwich. I asked Mike, about his reasons to vote for Brexit. Mike expressed his worries about the job shortage for black cab drivers. ‘Isn’t it an inevitable result of globalization and technological progress?’, I thought…. But ironically, Mike did not even mention his true worry, which was competition from Uber, instead blaming the immigrants… Neither did he seem to be aware, that a big part of his own income comes from the foreigners who use his services.

Rounding off my discussions with the Brexit supporters that I spoke to, I was left with an impression, that the vote to Leave is so misleading, that even those directly dependent on the European clientele, are not aware of the negative impact on their own financial well-being! If the UK should leave Europe, it will be an impulsive mistake, that in the long run will benefit nobody!

Creative people believe in Europe and wish for Britain to remain in the EU

Diana Buraka_Creative People in Europe_UK Remain Vote

by Diana Buraka

Britain’s leading role on the global cultural arena can only be reinforced if Britain remains part of Europe. To a large extent, Britain has carved out its leading role in the creative industry thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, attracting the best of European talents.

Creative people across the UK believe in Europe. As one of the international performers living in the UK and the French dance champion, I join the efforts of the big names like Danny Boyle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jude Law and Keira Knightley to support the Remain Vote.

Remaining in the EU means access to the £1.07 Billion Creative Europe funding scheme. It means, British artists and performers will continue to inspire and influence the rest of the continent with their creativity. It also means, that the UK, and particularly vibrant cultural cities like London, retain their appeal for the far-reaching European audiences for any West End play or musical.

Creativity has no borders, race nor nationality, instead, it endorses the free spirit, expressiveness and inspiration, that comes with an open-minded approach of people working together, applying freely for projects and grants across the EU and bringing together brilliant ideas and talents.

Volunteering for the ‘Britain Stronger In Europe’ campaign!

I am volunteering for the Remain campaign by the Baker Street polling station.
I believe, the outcome of this decision will affect all of us and
I encourage you to engage and support the ”BRITAIN STRONGER IN EUROPE” campaign!

Diana Buraka_Volunteering for Stronger In Europe

Diana Buraka_Intervieiwing Londoners

Fund Forum International 2013

Off to Zurich for the Rothschild Investors Summer Academy this Thursday. Next week exploring the latest on financial markets at the Fund Forum International 2013 in Monaco.