- The 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting came to a close, with the Co-Chairs stressing the need to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact
With the international order in place since World War II breaking down, the new president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, must set a course for America in the world, particularly in its relations with China, Europe and Russia, Henry A. Kissinger told participants in the closing session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.
“President Trump will have to find a definition of the American role that answers the concern in many parts of the world that America is giving up its indispensable leadership role and define what and where America can lead, where it must contribute, and in that process help in the creation of an international order,” said Kissinger, who served as US Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 and is Chairman of Kissinger Associates in the US.
Trump will need to reshape ties with China and Russia and recast the transatlantic alliance with Europe, Kissinger advised. He called Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening session of the Annual Meeting on 17 January “of fundamental significance”. Xi, Kissinger noted, “laid out a concept for globalization and its challenges. It was an assertion by China of its participation in the construction of a new international order. One of the key problems of our period is that the international order with which we are familiar is disintegrating and new elements from Asia and the developing world are entering.”
Describing the US transatlantic partnership with Europe, Kissinger stressed: “I don’t think it is obsolete; it is vital. What needs to be re-examined is the relevance of the institutions. A transatlantic partnership needs to be reconstructed, but it is a key element of American and European policy.”
In the same session, Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 offered their views on responsive and responsible leadership, the theme of the meeting. With the rapid changes driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and what seems to be a widespread sense of uncertainty about geopolitics, “The world has been turned upside down,” remarked Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International in the UK.
“We live in a world with a lot of changes happening,” agreed Frans van Houten, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Philips in the Netherlands. “In the measurement of trust, leaders are low right now.” To address this lack of trust, leaders have to adopt inclusive approaches and attitudes, he reckoned. “They must be inclusive and anchored on a long-term vision around the Sustainable Development Goals. We must find ways to contribute to them.” In the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, focusing on education has to be a key part of that. “You cannot assume that the skills that you learned at school are the skills that will get you through to retirement,” said van Houten. “Businesses have a role to play in life-long learning and reskilling. People are just not prepared for the digital future.”
Coping with technology’s double edge will be a major challenge, Thorning-Schmidt explained. “All the new technologies have one side that can be negatively destructive and one side that can be extremely positive. If we understand this, we can make faster moves for the most deprived people. We will be able to help them better if we apply the technology better,” she said.
Listening to and understanding people are the keys to responsive and responsible leadership, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Documentary Filmmaker at SOC Films in Pakistan, observed. “We have to have empathy, not build walls. Each one of us here should walk in other people’s shoes.” Counselled Brian T. Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America Corporation in the US: “Listen to everyone, to all constituencies. Take into account not just the people who agree with you, but also those who don’t.”
More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries, including over 50 heads of state or government, participated in some 400 sessions. These are highlights and key outcomes of the Annual Meeting:
- Responsive and responsible leadership: Exchanges at the Annual Meeting in Davos highlighted the importance of responsive and responsible leadership. The Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership, which has been developed with the International Business Council (IBC) with strong support from the Community of Chairmen, has reached the tipping point: The first 100 compacts have been signed by leading companies. Over the coming months, the Forum will enlarge the circle of companies. The Compact is not just a commitment. It is based on a background document, which has been elaborated on for the last year. This week, the IBC agreed to develop a framework for the measurement of a long-term approach. This index system will be presented after the IBC Summer Meeting in August 2017 at the World Economic Forum headquarters in Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland.
- Leaders in Davos: Xi Jinping became the first Chinese president to participate in the Annual Meeting. He said that globalization should not be blamed for the world’s problems and called on the international community to press ahead with implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that, in voting to leave the European Union, the British had chosen to create a “truly global Britain” that would seek to make markets, trade and globalization more fair and inclusive. Outgoing US Vice-President Joseph R. Biden called on Europe and the US to defend the liberal international order by fighting for democracy wherever it is threatened. US Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who is also stepping down, said that the foreign-policy legacy of the administration of President Barack Obama is strong, citing achievements such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the international deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, which he said will not be reversed. Representing the incoming administration of US President Donald J. Trump, who takes office today, Anthony Scaramucci, who is to become an assistant to the new president, predicted that Trump would be “a great leader who can galvanize people.”
- Humanitarian payments: Some of the world’s largest financial service providers, global IT and telecom companies and the international humanitarian community agreed on six principles to guide the disbursement of digital cash payments to crisis-affected populations.
- Vaccines at the ready: Conceived in Davos a year ago, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched at the Annual Meeting with the aim of shortening the response time to epidemics by creating vaccines that could be released quickly once an outbreak occurs.
- Jobs in the Arab world: Signatories to the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Arab Employment project said that, since 2013, they have helped reskill 250,000 people and are now targeting 1 million current and future workers.
- Mobile reading: Worldreader, a social enterprise associated with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, announced plans to develop a mobile-phone-based reading programme to serve 50,000 Syrian refugees, as well as families affected by conflict and hosting communities in Jordan.
- MENA start-ups: In a joint initiative, the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced the 100 Best Arab World Start Ups programme to support entrepreneurship and youth empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and help the region prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- Indian innovation: The World Economic Forum teamed up with the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Indian policy think tank NITI Aayog (the National Institution for Transforming India) and Cornell University in the US to develop an India Innovation Index to help drive innovation in the country.
- Regional integration through digital transformation: The Annual Meeting provided a neutral space for the governments of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to deepen regional economic cooperation in South Asia. With IT ministers from the region, international businesses and civil society organizations, the World Economic Forum has identified gaps in the national digital strategies of the four countries and will work with them to address the deficiencies. This will include a focus on cybersecurity.
- Skills in Europe: To counter the threat posed by technology to employment in Europe, the World Economic Forum launched a European Jobs Initiative in cooperation with private- and public-sector organizations to foster life-long learning and skills development.
- Battery power: Lithium-ion batteries power the smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles used across the world and are expected to reach a market size of more than $70 billion by 2024. Yet, their production is linked to issues such as child labour, health and safety hazards for workers, environmental impacts and life-cycle sustainability. At the Annual Meeting, the World Economic Forum mobilized a public-private coalition to catalyse the creation of a responsible, inclusive and sustainable battery supply chain.
- Funding sustainability in Asia: Cambodia became the first Asian country to sign on to the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP), a global initiative co-managed by the World Economic Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that aims to unlock funding for sustainable infrastructure projects through public-private collaboration.
- For a future-ready Viet Nam: The World Economic Forum signed a partnership agreement with Viet Nam to support the country through its next phase of development as it prepares for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- Accelerating the circular economy: Royal Philips, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Environment Programme launched a global Platform to Accelerate the Circular Economy aimed at speeding up progress towards a circular economy and unlocking the estimated global GDP growth potential of $4.5 trillion by 2030. In support of this initiative, a series of regional collaboration agreements were signed with the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), the Ministry of Natural Resources of Rwanda and the Inter-American Development Bank.
- Circling China’s economy: The Government of the People’s Republic of China signed agreements with the World Economic Forum to collaborate at the national and municipal level on environmental policy and fostering a circular economy.
- Raising recycling rates: Forty businesses and governments signed an agreement to increase global reuse and recycling rates for plastic packaging from 14% to 70%.
- Protecting the ocean: The World Economic Forum will team up with the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute to build a stakeholder coalition to protect ocean and marine resources, a global commons estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion.
- Reducing deforestation: The World Economic Forum announced the launch of a new fund backed by the Norwegian government that will raise $400 million by 2020 to protect 5 million hectares in countries that are working to reduce deforestation and impede forest and peat degradation. The fund could lead to $1.6 billion in deforestation-free agriculture investments, which will create jobs and contribute to economic growth.
- Global statesman: World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab presented an exceptional Global Statesman Award to Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia and the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, in recognition of his leadership and contribution to peace-making.
- China collaboration: China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the World Economic Forum signed a memorandum of understanding for closer collaboration over the next decade.
- Investing in sustainability: In line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Denmark launched a blended finance SDG fund to mobilize private capital, technology and know-how for inclusive and sustainable investments.
- Inclusive digitization: The World Economic Forum will work with Denmark to test and develop a framework to identify the barriers to driving positive and inclusive economic and social outcomes from digitization.
- Cybersecurity: Building on its Advancing Cyber Resilience: Principles and Tools for Boards programme, the World Economic Forum will join with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Kaspersky Lab and other partners to develop a playbook for governments to strengthen their capabilities in preparing for, responding to and recovering from cyber-attacks.
- Sharing the new vision for agriculture: Colombia and Cambodia announced their commitment to join the New Vision for Agriculture initiative to boost food production and incomes for smallholder farmers.
- The impact of automation: The World Economic Forum IT Governors community, which includes 39 top technology companies, will launch a consortium for the skilling of workers displaced by automation. The consortium will provide resources and capital and, through the Forum platform, focus initially on the financial services and manufacturing sectors.
- The middle-income trap: The OECD and the World Economic Forum agreed to cooperate to develop tools for policy-makers in Latin America to prioritize reforms aimed at overcoming the middle-income trap.
- Fighting cybercrime: Law enforcement agencies and businesses involved in the Cybercrime Project will work together to develop and enhance global and regional information-sharing platforms.
- Mobilizing the Global Shapers: The Coca-Cola Company provided funding to support and accelerate the work of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community of emerging leaders in their twenties. To fund the scaling-up of their projects, five Shaper Hubs were awarded a total of $50,000. The grand prize-winner was the Bogotá Hub’s Bakongo Paz project, which brings together in a summer camp youth demobilized from fighting in Colombia’s civil conflict. So far, 1,300 young people have participated in the reconciliation programme. With Coca-Cola’s support, Bakongo Paz will serve an additional 2,500.
- Millennial views: Young people make up half of the world’s population but are under-represented in global affairs. To close the gap between millennial perspectives and global governance, especially among top leaders, the Global Shapers spearheaded the #WorldWeShape global media campaign to share the vision and values of millennials. As indicated in last year’s Global Shapers Annual Survey that received 26,615 responses from 187 countries and territories, young people believe that the future they desire must be based on integrity, openness, transparency and action. The campaign logged over 1.39 million unique views in four weeks.
- Clean water: Social entrepreneur Gary White of Water.org, co-founded with actor and philanthropist Matt Damon, announced a $1.2 million partnership with Stella Artois for a consumer campaign to provide clean water to 3.5 million people by 2020.
- Green infrastructure: Social entrepreneur Michael Jenkins of Forest Trends announced the launch of a Water Initiative, a creative partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to invest in green infrastructure such as watershed management systems and traditional, engineered grey infrastructure in Peru and across the rest of Latin America.
- Stopping slavery: Social entrepreneur Nina Smith of GoodWeave International announced the launch of Sourcing Freedom, an international programme to stop slavery in supply chains, which is estimated to involve some 21 million forced and bonded workers around the world. Partners include the fashion retailing company C&A, The Walt Disney Company, Target Corporation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
- New plastics economy: Prompted by a joint report of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, social entrepreneur Tom Szaky, Co-Founder of TerraCycle, is partnering with Procter & Gamble and SUEZ to produce recyclable shampoo bottles that are up to 25% recycled beach plastic. By 2018, this partnership will produce half a billion such bottles to help fight the pollution of the ocean and waterways.
- Access to sanitation: The World Economic Forum and its partners initiated a concerted push to reduce the number of people who do not have access to sanitation – estimated at 2.4 billion. Inadequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities costs the world approximately $260 billion each year.