Trade, transparency, tax and terrorism will be among the international issues debated at an academic conference in Belfast on Friday ahead of the G8 summit.
Experts from a range of policy fields will be at Queen's University to examine the global challenges that will be on the agenda when the G8 leaders meet 90 miles away in Co Fermanagh next week at the Lough Erne Golf Resort. The conference is being hosted by Queen's University in partnership with the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
Queen's University vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, said: "The arrival of G8 is another chapter in the development of a confident, outward-looking Northern Ireland in which Queen's plays a crucial role.
"The G8 pre-summit conference is a prestigious event which provides a unique opportunity for delegates to engage in discussions on the global issues to be debated at Lough Erne, and to do so in the surroundings of a university dedicated to addressing the challenges facing society around the world."
The conference is held annually in the run up to the G8 summit at an academic institution in the host country. This year it has been organised by leading G8 experts Dr Andrew Baker from Queen's School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy, and Professor John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
"The modern G8 summit is a gathering point for a whole range of political perspectives to debate global affairs," said Dr Baker. "The discussions and disagreements that occur in events surrounding the formal summit - like the pre-summit conference at Queen's - have become an important part of modern world politics in their own right.
"This event provides a valuable opportunity for business people, policy makers, academics, students and members of the public to engage with G8 insiders and experts about the key issues that will face the world leaders when they meet at Lough Erne."
Professor Kirton added: "We are pleased to be partnering with our good friends at Queen's University Belfast to produce this year's pre-summit conference, which will serve as a good exploration of the issues facing the G8 leaders when they meet next week in Lough Erne. I am looking forward to rich discussions with my colleagues and members of the G8 Research Group's global network of scholars, experts and practitioners drawing on our collected wisdom and experience to furthering our knowledge of the work of the G8."
The event has been supported by Stormont's Department of Employment and Learning (DEL).
DEL minister Dr Stephen Farry said: "Higher education is a major driver of economic development and I believe this role will increase as further changes in technology, globalisation, and demographics occur. Higher education must focus on the importance of the economy, upskilling and reskilling the current and future workforce, enhancing research and development activity, increasing knowledge transfer and extending its reach locally, nationally and internationally."