Dominic Waughray, Head of Public Private Partnership World Economic Forum
More than 3,000 participants from nearly 100 countries, including over 50 heads of state or government, participated in some 400 sessions at the 2017 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland last week.
The meetings are now over, the conference rooms have been disassembled and the leaders have all gone.
So what did this year’s Davos meeting achieve? Here are ten things it did.
First on health, the governments of Norway, Japan and Germany, together with the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation agreed to put $460 million into the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Officially launched at Davos 2017, CEPI is an innovative public-private alliance, advanced by the World Economic Forum System Initiative on Health, to outsmart epidemics by creating vaccines that can be released quickly once an outbreak occurs.
Second on environment, a new public-private tropical forest fund was launched. It will raise $400 million by 2020 to help small-scale farmers in forest areas protect five million hectares of land – an area bigger than the size of Switzerland – by reducing deforestation and peatland burning, whilst also improving their crop productivity. This new catalytic fund, spurred by the World Economic Forum hosted Tropical Forest Alliance could trigger $1.6 billion in deforestation-free agriculture investments, which will create jobs and contribute to economic growth. At Davos, the Government of Norway committed $100 million and the consumer goods company Unilever announced a $25 million contribution to this fund. Other companies, governments and foundations also expressed their support.
Third, on helping China to green its economy, the Government of the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Environment Protection (China Council for International Collaboration on Environment and Development) signed an agreement at Davos with the World Economic Forum for a major five year collaboration on advancing China’s environmental policies, including bringing together leading companies, innovators and investors to help China accelerate a circular economy, promote the sharing economy, take further action on climate and oceans; and to harness new fourth industrial revolution technologies for the environment.
Fourth on tackling plastics pollution, over 40 industry leaders including some of world’s largest consumer goods, retailers and recycling firms, and governments endorsed a detailed action plan to increase global reuse and recycling rates for plastic packaging from its current 14% to 70%. The New Plastics Economy is a collaboration involving the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Fifth on digital security, 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.
Sixth on jobs, where the Middle East is one of the world’s regions most in need of ways to boost the employment potential for less skilled workers, signatories to the Forum’s New Vision for Arab Employment project said they have now helped re-skill 250,000 people since 2013, and are now targeting 1 million current and future workers.
Seventh, on the impact of automation, the World Economic Forum IT Governors community, which includes 39 top technology companies, agreed to launch a consortium for the skilling of workers displaced by automation. The consortium will provide resources and capital and, through the World Economic Forum platform, focus initially on the financial services and manufacturing sectors.
Eighth, on inclusive growth at Davos, the World Economic Forum 2017 Inclusive Growth Report was launched. This Report presents a new global index, the Inclusive Development Index (IDI), which provides a richer and more nuanced assessment of countries’ level (and recent performance) of economic development than the conventional one based on GDP per capita alone. It also provides a policy framework showing the many factors that can drive a more inclusive growth process.
Ninth, on responsible business leadership, the Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership – a roadmap for business leaders to pursue sustainable long term growth and opportunity, reached a tipping point at Davos with the first 100 compacts signed by leading companies. Over the coming months, the Forum will enlarge the circle of companies. At Davos the World Economic Forum International Business Council also agreed to develop a framework for the measurement of a long-term approach to meeting the Compact.
Tenth, in terms of world leaders at Davos, there was also a significant development this year.
Xi Jinping became the first ever Chinese president to participate in the Annual Meeting. In a major speech at the opening of the meeting, President Xi 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.
Henry A. Kissinger told participants in the closing session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening session of the Annual Meeting on 17 January was “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.”
Whether triggering practical partnerships for action on health, environment, cybersecurity and jobs, among many others; encouraging responsible corporate leadership; introducing new policy tools for advancing inclusive growth; or bringing key world leaders together as the global context changes, the 2017 Annual Meeting in Davos delivered on its theme for this year: responsible and responsive leadership.
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