The 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting closed Friday on a creative note with four artists sharing their visions of how painting, photography, film and dance can inspire empathy with other people’s stories. Across more than 400 sessions, one key theme kept emerging: the need to embrace our common humanity in the face of the rapid technological changes ushered in by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Wrapping up the final session, Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and one of the seven female Co-Chairs of the meeting, celebrated the spirit of inclusion, diversity and respect for human rights that characterized this year’s meeting. She paid tribute to the meeting’s artists, whose work put people at the centre of the story and concluded with a call to action: “Let’s ensure that Davos 2018 is just the beginning of a movement where we globalize compassion and ensure a world in which no one is left behind.”
The 48th Annual Meeting was convened under the theme, Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World with the aim of identifying ways for humanity to work collectively once more in the face of urgent global and regional challenges.
Mending our fractured world
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, announced that Canada will double its commitment to the Global Partnership for Education Fund, providing an extra $180 million to the fund between 2018 and 2020.
Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, and Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, held the first meeting at prime-minister level for seven years. The discussion led to a framework being agreed to intensify the negotiations on an end to the naming dispute, which is being presided over by the UN.
In addition to the West Balkans, the Forum’s series of Diplomacy Dialogues has committed to supplementing ongoing multilateral efforts in the Korean Peninsula, Venezuela, sub-Saharan Africa and Somalia.
Looking to the Middle East and North Africa region, a Forum community of Israeli and Palestinian business leaders met at the Annual Meeting to renew their commitment to the two-state solution and pledge their support to strengthening the Palestinian economy given the opportunity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In the same region, the Forum also formed a new community of businesspeople who have committed to advise and support Haider Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, on the reconstruction of the country.
Denmark became the first European country to partner with the World Economic Forum. The scope of the agreement will see Denmark collaborate closely with the Forum in a number of areas, including promoting green growth, trade and education, gender and work. Denmark will also partner with the Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco as it works to design governance principles to shape the technologies of the future.
The Government of Saudi Arabia signed a Letter of Intent to partner with the World Economic Forum. The scope of the agreement covers the Forum’s System Initiatives, the Global Centre for Cybersecurity and the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Preparing workers for the future: A Forum report published during the meeting, Towards a Reskilling Revolution, provides the guidance needed to find new, gainful employment for the millions of workers expected to lose their jobs due to technological change. Separately, the Forum announced two initiatives that will have a direct impact on workers: Closing the Skills Gap, a global, business-led scheme that aims to deliver new skills to 10 million workers by 2020; and the IT Industry Skills Initiative, whose SkillSET portal aims to reach 1 million IT workers by 2021.
Safeguarding our oceans: A new multistakeholder initiative, the Friends of Ocean Action initiative, was launched with the aim of delivering an “Ocean Action Track” to protect and conserve oceans, seas and marine resources. The partnership was announced by Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden; and Peter Thomson, UN Special Envoy for the Ocean. Marc Benioff, Founder and Chairman of Salesforce.com, announced $4.5 million in funding through the Benioff Ocean Initiative to support the new initiative.
Closing the Gender Gap: Peru became the fourth country in Latin America to adopt the Forum’s Closing the Gender Gap model, following earlier adoption in Chile, Argentina and Panama. Five additional countries are considering adoption over the course of 2018.
Tackling waste and pollution: Leaders from some of the world’s largest companies, such as Alphabet, The Coca Cola Company, Royal Philips and Unilever, teamed up with the governments of Indonesia, Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China and Rwanda and international organizations to form the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE). The platform aims to tackle issues including electronic waste and plastics pollution by going beyond the 9% of waste that is currently cycled back into the economy after use.
Unlocking nature’s value: A new plan was announced to mimic the success of the human genome map by sequencing the DNA of all life on earth. Under the auspices of the Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth initiative, two projects, the Earth Bio-Genome Project (EBP) and the Earth Bank of Codes will, if successful, help avert extinction as well as tackle bio-piracy and habitat loss by unlocking value from nature’s biological and biomimetic assets.
Making meat sustainable: A new Forum initiative, Meat: The Future will identify ways to transform the future of meat and protein production to deliver safe, affordable and sustainable protein in the face of rapidly growing global demand.
Bridging the digital divide: Mercedes Aráoz, Prime Minister of Peru, announced plans to launch an Internet for All programme in 2018.
Fighting financial crime and modern slavery: Thomson Reuters, Europol and the Forum are partnering to tackle money laundering and trafficking in human misery. The partnership will aim to raise greater awareness among global leaders, promote more effective information-sharing and improve compliance best practices.
Taking on fake news: A new joint venture funded by the Craig Newmark Foundation in collaboration with the World Economic Forum was launched. Bringing internet platform giants together with multistakeholder leaders, the initiative will be developed further through 2018. Meanwhile, a joint venture launched by Internews in collaboration with the Forum aimed to promote high-quality local news and information.
Secure air travel: The Forum was joined by the Government of Canada in launching a Known Traveller Digital Identity prototype to test emerging technologies such as biometrics and distributed ledger technologies that could facilitate more secure and seamless air travel.
Advancing the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Governing the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which opened in March 2017, expanded with a number of new partnerships. New centres will be added to the network in India, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, Bahrain, Denmark, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Kingdom joined as partners alongside Deutsche Bank, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.
Tackling the cyber threat: In response to the fastest-emerging global risk of our times, the Forum announced the launch of a Global Centre for Cybersecurity, a multistakeholder platform aimed at creating a safe operating environment for new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things.
Accelerating innovation: The Forum launched its UpLink initiative as a platform to connect start-ups with multinational businesses, investors, universities, governments and other investors. To kick-off the platform, a collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) will see 50 outstanding start-ups from Latin America invited to participate at the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Brazil in March.
Rwanda: The Government of Rwanda became the first country to adopt performance-based regulation for all drones following a collaboration with the Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The new approach is aimed at simplifying procedures to encourage faster adoption of drone technology and greater deployment of drones for innovative uses.
Ethical science: The Forum’s community of Young Scientists launched an interdisciplinary Code of Ethics for Researchers aimed at safeguarding high standards of behaviour and clarifying social norms to allow scientists to operate independently.
On the Forum’s platform for Public-Private Cooperation
Empowering women entrepreneurs: The Mann Deshi Foundation, a rural Indian cooperative bank run by and for women established by the meeting’s Co-Chair Chetna Sinha, announced the launch of a Rs100 million fund to encourage more women at the bottom of the pyramid to become entrepreneurs.
Addressing up to gender bias: The Forum’s Global Shapers Community teamed with Procter & Gamble to raise awareness among young people about gender equality. The partnership will include a social media campaign and a $100,000 grant challenge to support grassroots, youth-led solutions.
Developing antibiotics: Netherlands-based Access to Medicine Foundation published the world’s first antimicrobial infection benchmark, which encourages greater research and development for new-generation antibiotics.
Football fund: Common Goal, co-founded by footballer Juan Mata, was launched as a programme aiming to break the cycle of poverty for 2.5 million people around the world. The plan has so far signed up 35 footballers to pledge 1% of their salaries to charities that use football as a tool for social change.
Valuing waste: Chile became only the second country in the world to implement a national plan to move to a circular economy. The scheme is the result of a partnership between TriCiclos and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Relief and reconstruction: The International Trade Union Confederation teamed with US renewable energy firms Sesame Solar, SimpliPhi Power and Outback Power to deliver off-grid power to affiliates in Dominica along with emergency supplies and aid.
Mental health: CitiesRise, an initiative aimed at improving provision for affordable mental health support for young people, was launched with the support of public- and private-sector leaders in Kenya, Lebanon, Colombia, the United States and India, and supported by Philips, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and Harvard University. CitiesRise aims to reach 1 billion young people by 2030.
Community health: The CEOs of Last Mile Health Living Goods announced a $50 million collaboration to deploy 50,000 community health workers to deliver quality care door-to-door to 35 million people. Working with African governments, the initiative will use mobile technology to empower community health workers more cost-effectively than deploying doctors or nurses.
Culture: At the invitation of Swiss President Alain Berset, Europe’s ministers of culture gathered in Davos on 21 and 22 January. They discussed ways in which Baukultur for a better quality of life can be anchored in Europe, both politically and strategically.
Sustainability: The World Economic Forum has obtained independent recognition for sustainable event management of the Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters and has received the ISO 20121 certification, following audits by DNVGL. PublicisLive, the Forum’s official provider of logistics and key support services, has received the same certification. The ISO 20121 standard enables event organizers to implement concrete sustainability actions in a rigorous way.
More than 3,000 participants from nearly 110 countries participated in over 400 sessions at the Annual Meeting. This year more than 340 public figures, including more than 70 heads of state and government and 45 heads of international organizations took part, a new record;