World leaders came together at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2022 against a backdrop of deepening global frictions and fractures and a once-in-a-century pandemic.
On Monday, President Zelenskyy addressed participants live from Kyiv. He said that the words “turning point” have “become more than just a rhetorical figure of speech” and emphasised that “values must matter”.
The war in Ukraine has created immense human suffering. And the wider impacts of the conflict are being felt around the world.
The WEF called for a “Marshall Plan” for the reconstruction of Ukraine. “In Davos, our solidarity is foremost with the people suffering from the atrocities of this war,” says Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder and executive chairman.
The Special Dialogue on Ukraine session brought together 70 global CEOs alongside the prime minister of Ukraine (who joined virtually), with the president of the European Commission, the foreign minister of Ukraine and the first deputy-prime minister of Ukraine at Davos in person, alongside other dignitaries. CEOs offered concrete ways of how their companies can support the Ukraine government and its private sector in the reconstruction of Ukraine now, rather than waiting for the war to end.
The WEF offered its support in this endeavour, advancing discussions on new partnerships and market-driven solutions to enable a scaled up response to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and other global crises.
Meeting in person after a two-year hiatus, there were over 450 sessions at the meeting, which brought together 2 500 leaders and experts from around the world, including 300 government leaders and 50 heads of state. It was a critical opportunity to foster stronger global and regional cooperation to restore stability and create real impact.
Nature and climate
The energy crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, must not deepen the world’s dependence on climate-warming fossil fuels. During the week, there was a focus on accelerating clean energy and climate solutions:
* More than 50 companies have now joined the First Movers Coalition, which was launched by US president Biden and the World Economic Forum at COP26 to decarbonize the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors – the sectors responsible for 30% of global emissions.
* This week at Davos, John Kerry, the United States special presidential envoy for climate, joined these companies in sending a powerful market signal to commercialize zero-carbon technology. Their market cap represents about $8.5 trillion across five continents and they are making unprecedented advance purchase commitments by 2030.
* Eight new countries have joined the First Movers Coalition as government partners – Denmark, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. All are committed to create early markets for clean technologies. Alongside the United States, there are nine committed government partners.
* Some 70+ CEOs of the CEO Climate Leaders Alliance – the largest CEO-led climate action group globally – agreed on taking bold action to translate pledges into tangible emission reductions in line with 1,5C. Covering 26 countries and 12 industries and representing 120 companies in total, the alliance has a combined annual emission footprint greater than India or the EU.
* CEOs agreed to push for progress on critical 2030 and 2050 global climate targets, mobilizing dialogue between governments and the private sector to deliver a successful outcome at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
* China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua announced his country’s contribution to plant and conserve 70-billion trees by 2030. The World Economic Forum and China Green Foundation will undertake concrete measures together through 1t.org China Action to support the fulfilment of China’s contribution.
* A new $15-million investment over five years was announced to support entrepreneurs who can drive innovation in freshwater resource management – the initiative will be hosted by the WEF’s UpLink platform.
* CEOs also held dialogues with regional climate envoys, COP26, COP27 and COP28 leadership to make progress on global climate policies, including the importance of setting a global price on carbon and other key policy measures to fast-track the transition.
* Youth activist Elizabeth Watuthi spoke on Safeguarding our People and Planet, sharing the local perspective and direct impacts of climate change in vulnerable communities, and youth climate activist Vanessa Nakate, speaking at the Staying on Course for Climate Action session, said: “When we talk about climate change we’re also talking about food security. It’s really important to understand the intersections of this crisis.”
* The Forum’s Global New Mobility Coalition is launching the Urban Mobility Scorecards initiative. Over 30 companies, such as Visa, Hyundai, Uber, Volta Trucks and TIER, will work with policy-makers from cities and regions to better understand challenges and solutions to create a shared, connected and decarbonized mobility ecosystem.
* A new Global Commission on the Economics of Water was launched to redefine the way we value and incorporate water into economic decision-making. It is led by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation; Mariana Mazzucato, founding director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; Tharman Shanmugaratnam, senior minister of the government of Singapore; and Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
The Forum’s Chief Economists Outlook report warned of “dire human consequences” from the fragmentation of the global economy. It said that developing economies face trade-offs between the risks of debt crisis and securing food and fuel. The rising cost of living hits the world’s poorest communities hardest. The Ukraine conflict has exacerbated already fragile energy and food systems.
Co-investment by the public and private sector is critical to restarting a new era of growth, one that integrates inclusion and sustainability at its core rather than an afterthought, and is the best way forward for shared prosperity.
* A leading group of CEOs, ministers and academic experts agreed on the roadmap for the Market Creators Alliance to develop fairer principles for governments, businesses and public-private partnerships on innovation and industrial development. This will be launched later this year.
* Four Futures for Economic Globalisation: Scenarios and Their Implications outlines how the nature of globalization may shift as economic powers choose between fragmentation or integration in both the physical and virtual dimensions of the world economy.
* The government of Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates announced that they are joining the Food Action Alliance for driving food systems transformation. They are part of a growing group of first-mover countries. The new partnership will harness innovation to accelerate country goals on food security and nutrition, inclusive growth, sustainability and climate resilience, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Work, wages and job creation
* The Jobs Consortium, a group of public and private sector leaders focused on investment in the jobs of tomorrow, held their inaugural meeting in Davos to drive a global recovery and investment agenda for the next two years. They aim to create growth in the jobs of tomorrow, new standards in the workplace and better wages for all, focusing on social, green and tech jobs as the high-growth, job-creating sector of the future.
* Over 6-million refugees have left Ukraine to other countries since February, adding to the estimated 31 million people worldwide forcibly displaced across borders. The Refugee Employment and Employability Initiative was launched, a coalition of chief human resources officers from over 140 organisations who support the integration of Ukrainian refugees in Europe. This will pilot its work supporting learning and job opportunities for Ukrainian refugees in Europe in its first phase – aiming to expand to other regions of the world in the future.
Education and skills
* The Reskilling Revolution initiative, launched at the Annual Meeting in 2020, has now mobilised a community of over 50 CEOs, 350 organisations and 15 countries all working towards a vision of giving 1-billion people better education, reskilling and upskilling. A network of country accelerators in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Georgia, Greece, India, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, with support from Denmark, Finland, Singapore and Switzerland, and a consortium of the largest online learning platforms are working together.
* The initiative will now expand beyond adult learning to add a focus on education for children and youth. These efforts will be taken forward by a new Education 4.0 Alliance, bringing together 20 leading education organisations, and Bangladesh has become the first country to adopt the education accelerator model in Davos.
* A new report, Catalysing Education 4.0 Investing in the Future of Learning for a Human-Centric Recovery, focuses on preparing today’s generation of school-age children with better collaborative problem-solving that could add $2,54-trillion – over $3 000 per school-age child – from this one skill alone.
Diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice
* The Gender Parity Accelerators are a global network of national public-private collaboration platforms working to close existing gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future. This year two G20 countries, Mexico and Japan, will initiate Gender Parity Accelerators in the coming months.
* The Valuable 500 initiative announced a unique mentorship programme – Generation Valuable – for people with disabilities to build the future executive leadership, driving disability inclusion by revolutionizing the boardrooms of tomorrow.
* The Edison Alliance launched a new programme to speed up digital inclusion in the life-critical sectors of health, education and finance. It launched a new network of “lighthouse countries”, including Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda, working with the UN Development Programme to further the alliance’s 1 billion lives vision of providing people with affordable, digital solutions by 2025
Trade and supply chains
Business and government leaders highlighted the potential of trade facilitation, finance and trade technology to tackle supply chain barriers. Trade ministers gathered in Davos to hear from business and civil society and prepare for next month’s World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference.
Leaders called for diversifying trade and investment relationships to bolster development and support common values. Indigenous and labour leaders called for inclusive outcomes from trade. Food security was high on the agenda.
* The World Investment for Development Alliance was launched together with OECD Secretary-General Matthias Cormann, the World Bank, UNCTAD and other partners, to increase collaboration in addressing investment policy and practice.
* The Forum’s Platform for Trade and Investment, together with the Digital Cooperation Organisation, launched a Digital FDI initiative to support investment in the digital economy in developing economies.
* The World Economic Forum convened Friends of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, a group of heads of state and business leaders, which advanced a framework on how public-private partnerships can support the implementation of the AfCFTA.
* Global supply chain disruptions make it harder to reach children with life-saving supplies. This week UNICEF co-signed an extended charter with the World Economic Forum and 16 logistics leaders to prioritize support for humanitarian supply transports.
Covix the multilateral initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to life-saving Covid-19 vaccines was conceived in Davos two years ago. In the past seven days it has shipped its 1,5-billionth dose.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused enormous disruptions to healthcare – reversals in testing and treatment of life-threatening diseases. Crucial steps have been taken to help counteract these setbacks.
* The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria announced its first pledge from the private sector in Davos. It has raised a third of the $18-billion needed to reverse setbacks caused by the pandemic.
* Building on recommendations developed in partnership with the European Union COVID-19 lung cancer taskforce, the Forum, together with the Lung Ambition Alliance, launched the Global Lung Cancer Collaboration to bring together organisations in healthcare delivery, research, diagnostics, biopharma, patient advocacy and non-governmental organisations to facilitate greater collaboration and solutions to eliminate lung cancer as a leading cause of death.
* An Accord for a Healthier World was launched at Davos by Pfizer this week, providing all its current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the US or EU on a not-for-profit basis to 45 lower-income countries. Pfizer called on global health leaders and organisations to join the accord, bringing their expertise and resources to close the health equity gap and help create a healthier world for 1,2-billion people. Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda are the first five countries to commit to join the accord. Health officials in these countries will help identify and resolve hurdles beyond supply to inform the roll-out in all 45 lower-income countries.
* The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Health and Healthcare signed an MoU with Saudi Arabia in support of the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare. This partnership will increase collaborative efforts to build a global healthcare movement on value-based health systems and people-centred care, alongside global government policy-makers, industry and academia through accelerating public-private partnerships.
* The World Economic Forum unveiled the concept of a Global Collaboration Village, a major initiative to harness the potential of the metaverse to create a place where international co-operation can be strengthened.
* The Defining and Building the Metaverse initiative was launched bringing together key stakeholders to define and build the parameters of an economically viable, interoperable, safe and inclusive metaverse.
* The Global Coalition for Digital Safety has committed to developing emergency protocols for protecting digital safety during wars, particularly to tackle online exploitation and abuse, violent extremist and terrorist content, and mis- and disinformation. This will complement the broader work of the coalition to make the internet safer by tackling harmful content and conduct online.
* The Annual Meeting hosted its first public panel on Unlocking Quantum, with leaders committing to focus on how technologies and deeper analytics could transform decarbonization and accelerate the fight against climate change. They will work with Qlimate, Volkswagen and the Netherlands government on identifying and scaling solutions.
* Malaysia’s Finance Minister announced his country will be the first location for a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in the ASEAN region. And, the Dubai Future Foundation, with support from the Government of UAE, has signed a collaboration agreement to continue the operations of C4IR UAE. The centre will focus on blockchain, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.
* Samantha Cristoforetti became the first astronaut to join the Annual Meeting live from space aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the planet at 17 500 miles an hour. The Live from Space session looked at how government and business can collaborate to ensure that space exploration benefits people and the planet.
In a closing address, Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, called for “a sustainable, resilient globalization which uses natural resources sparingly and, above all, takes the needs of future generations into account”, adding that a new approach to globalization would be “based on solidarity which benefits all citizens – in all parts of the world”.