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World Economic Forum President: Annual Meeting comes at the most consequential global moment of past three decades

by Dubai Forum
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ABU DHABI, 23rd May, 2022 (WAM) — Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, has said that the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum comes at the most consequential global moment of the past three decades.

Brende highlighted that the event, taking place until 26th May in Davos, brings together over 2,000 leaders and experts from around the world including over 50 heads of state and government, noting that the annual meeting in Davos serves as a strong reaffirmation of the importance of collaboration and offers an unparalleled platform to address the urgent challenges we face.

In an exclusive interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), he said, “Geopolitically, There is fear we are firmly in what the UN described two years ago as ‘a new era of conflict and violence’. But in stark contrast, we recently saw the benefits that can be realised when parties cooperate. The record speed at which safe and effective vaccines were developed during the COVID-19 pandemic was only possible because of coordination among governments, businesses and research institutions.

“Geo-economically, there are serious concerns regarding the brittle nature of global supply chains and the growth of inflationary pressures. The International Monetary Fund has warned of a slowdown in growth from 6.1% last year to 3.6% this year 0.8 percentage points lower than had been projected in January largely because of the war in Europe. But in contrast, we saw during the pandemic what can be achieved when economic institutions collaborate. Central banks were able to stave off a financial crisis by working together to lower rates and help financial markets function.”

Speaking about the most prominent topics of discussion at the upcoming World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Brende said that the meeting will focus on six key pillars, namely: fostering regional and global cooperation; securing the economic recovery and shaping a new era of growth; building healthy and equitable societies; safeguarding climate, food and nature; driving industry transformation; and harnessing the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He noted that these thematic pillars will be interwoven with each other because, “the challenges we face demand multifaceted, integrated solutions.” For instance, the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report made clear that time is fast running out to keep global temperatures from rising beyond the most critical levels. Accelerating progress on reaching net-zero will require multistakeholder cooperation, technological innovation, industry transformation, and equitable investment.

President of the World Economic Forum added, “The First Movers Coalition launched by the Forum at COP26 in 2021 in partnership with the US Government’s Special Envoy on Climate John Kerry is an example of an integrated approach to scaling climate action. The coalition is a group of forward-thinking companies that are making green purchasing commitments in order to jumpstart demand for emerging technologies.”

With regard to the most important opportunities in global economy after the pandemic, Brende said that there are three main priorities for the global economy, “First, and most immediately, we must ensure global growth is more inclusive. The IMF warned last year of the risk of divergent recoveries, with the consequences being not just economic but humanitarian. Because of this one priority should be to steer sustainable investment to underfinanced economies. Here, thankfully, foreign direct investment is on the rebound, up 77 percent in 2021, above pre-COVID-19 levels. But the ongoing pandemic and challenging economic landscape make this investment recovery fragile.”

“Second, and in the medium term, we need to focus on expanding digital access. More and more our economies and societies are being infused with frontier technologies a development the World Economic Forum has termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By some estimates, 70 percent of new value this decade will be based on business models that use digital applications. Yet, over a third of the global population has never used the Internet. This is why last year the World Economic Forum brought together leading technology and financial companies, along with government entities, to launch the EDISON Alliance an initiative that is working to expand affordable digital access for everyone by 2025.”

“Third, we must accelerate a green transition. By some estimates, the global economy could face unprecedented consequences, potentially shrinking by up to 18 percent in the next 30 years, if no action is taken. Reaching net-zero climate emissions by 2050 will require fundamentally transforming our economies but green transition can add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to the global economy. The Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate is partnering with over 150 of the world’s leading companies and 50 international and civil society organizations to address these opportunities. It is also working closely with partners across the Middle East ahead of the next two global climate meetings, which will be held in Egypt this November and the UAE next year.”

On his point of view about the current economic changes globally, Brende stated, “Despite the challenging context we are in, I am optimistic. Because each day at the World Economic Forum I see instances of business, government, and civil society working together to advance our common interests. The challenges we face, from climate change to global inequity to the pandemic are too complex and too large for any one country or company to handle on its own. We need to use the challenging geopolitical headwinds to redouble our collaborative efforts because it is the only way toward a stronger future.”

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