A more human-centred globalization is critical for our shared prosperity and sustainable future, agreed a roster of young panellists in the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.
“We want to be future-oriented, and not just absorbed by crisis management,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, welcoming participants in his opening remarks, after a video presentation showcasing the polarities of globalization, from megacities to refugee camps, classrooms to space.
“Globalization is a fact,” underlined Schwab, but is distinct from globalism, the philosophy with which we promote globalization. “The World Economic Forum has never stood for unfettered globalism. We feel that Globalization 4.0 has to be more human-centred,” as well as more inclusive and sustainable.
He stressed the role of young social entrepreneurs and leaders in effecting this attitudinal change: “With half of the population below 27-years old, we have to listen to the young people.”
Six millennial Co-Chairs are shaping the discussion at this year’s Annual Meeting and shared their stories and insight as Global Shapers on stage.
Basima Abdulrahman started the first green building company in Iraq, designing structures to meet sustainability standards despite the dangers and destruction of ISIS. “I decided to go back to Iraq and do something positive and impactful,” said the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KESK Green Building Consulting, calling on participants to “think collectively” beyond personal benefits, race and region.
“People are feeling that they are getting behind,” warned Juan David Aristizabal, President and Co-Founder of Colombian education non-profit Los Zúper, “and I think we can solve that. Machines are fast, but humans are creative; machines can tell us about the past, but as humans we can build the future.”
Noura Berrouba, Member of the Governing Body of the European Youth Parliament, challenged participants to imagine those outside the walls of Davos. “These are not threats; these are not problems,” she said. “These are change agents and opportunities, and if we want to create a world where we tackle our common challenges, we need to work with the people outside of these halls.”
“It’s time to be uncomfortable, and bold,” she closed. “The real success is not measured by the amount of meetings, but by the real impact on people on the ground.”
“Globalization 4.0 needs to start from localization,” commented Akira Sakano, Chair of the Board of Directors at Zero Waste Academy, who moved to a small town in Japan that commits to produce zero waste by 2020.
There are “deep-seated, systemic inequities” in the world, reminded Julia Luscombe, Director of Strategic Initiatives at sustainable food non-profit Feeding America. “We need to drive a more sustainable and equitable global architecture. That should be our priority. It’s the priority of the young people we are representing here today.”
Mohammed Hassan Mohamud decried conditions in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where he has lived for over 20 years and now works as Zonal Chairman as well as being a Global Shaper. He told participants: “As you attend the meetings and as people discuss great lofty ideas, think about those of us who are on the sidelines, watching and not asking for much, just looking for a place to call home.”
The seventh Co-Chair, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, highlighted the core need for innovation in society. “This next phase of globalization needs to deliver economic growth but deliver it such that it is equitable growth” he said. “Let’s challenge the status quo with innovation and ingenuity.”
Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor of Finance of the Swiss Federal Department of Finance, also gave a special address, highlighting how “Globalization 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and our day-to-day lives are all influenced by the galloping pace of new technologies.”
“Multilateralism has helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But today we cannot afford any more to leave people behind,” concluded Schwab in his remarks. “We need a remobilization of globalization.”