Annual Meeting 2024: Rebuilding Trust Amid Uncertainty

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Published
19 Jan 2024
2024

World Economic Forum, [email protected]

  • At a moment of growing fragmentation and polarization, the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024 served as a platform for advancing dialogue, cooperation and action-oriented partnership.
  • Nearly 3,000 leaders from government, business and civil society from more than 125 countries, including 350 heads of state and government, and ministers, participated in the meeting and connected across diverse viewpoints on key issues.
  • Participants advanced new ideas and initiatives to increase resilience and security, revive economic growth, protect the climate and nature, balance innovation and guardrails for technology, and invest in jobs, skills and health.
  • For more information on the Annual Meeting 2024, visit www.weforum.org. Share on social media using #wef24. Watch the Highlights Film here.

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 19 January 2024 – Amid rising geopolitical tensions, close to 3,000 policy-makers, business executives, international organization and civil society leaders, academics and innovators from around the world came together for the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum to rebuild a basis of trust, generate new ideas and develop partnerships that can improve outcomes for people, economies and the planet.

More than 450 sessions and workshops took place during the Annual Meeting 2024, facilitating dialogue, debate and alignment across many perspectives. Over the course of the week, the Forum and its partners also launched or advanced more than 50 high-impact initiatives, serving as ongoing platforms for multi-year collaboration across geographies and industries.

“We must rebuild trust – trust in our future, trust in our capacity to overcome challenges, and most importantly, trust in each other,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Trust is not just a feeling; trust is a commitment to action, to belief, to hope.”

Trust, cooperation and security

World leaders called for rebuilding trust in the face of increasing fragmentation:

“Geopolitical divides are preventing us from coming together around global solutions for global challenges,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres,

“It is essential that we discard prejudice, bridge differences and work as one to tackle the trust deficit,” said Li Qiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China.

“The world is not at a single inflection point; it is at multi-inflection points,” warned Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. She urged countries to “deepen global collaboration more than ever before.”

Ajay S. Banga, President of the World Bank Group, emphasized the interconnectedness of crises; “We cannot think about eradicating poverty without caring about climate. We cannot think about eradicating poverty without thinking about healthcare. We cannot think about eradicating poverty without thinking about food insecurity and fragility.”

“We have a responsibility to be stewards of our beautiful, small planet’s future,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. “There is something that leaders need to embrace,” she added, “and it is the responsibility to act, even if it’s not popular.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for world leaders to “be realistic but be optimistic” about addressing the complex challenges of peace and security, jobs and decarbonization. “I truly believe that the decisions that can change things are within our hands,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced plans for a potential global summit to push for peace and called for renewed investment in the country. “Strengthen our economy, and we’ll strengthen your security,” he told participants, adding that there will be growth in Ukraine once the war is over. More than 80 national security advisers from governments and international organizations met in Davos to advance a blueprint for peace in Ukraine at the Fourth National Security Advisors Meeting, hosted by Switzerland in collaboration with the Forum.

A series of sessions addressed the conflict in the Middle East. Mohammed Shyaa Al Sudani, Prime Minister of Iraq, warned that unless the international community acts now to end the conflict, there is a risk of a stalemate and a possible expansion of hostilities in the region. Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Hani Al Khasawneh emphasized the need for a comprehensive ceasefire in Gaza and the importance of international support for humanitarian efforts. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for protecting shipping security in the Red Sea and for a meaningful dialogue to end the war in Gaza. Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for new approaches to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. Mohammad Mustafa, Chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, highlighted the complexities surrounding governance and the need for Palestinian unity, and emphasized the financial and logistical needs for reconstructing Gaza.

“I can’t think of a time when there’s been both a greater multiplicity and greater complexity of the challenges that we’re dealing with,” said Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States.

On the role of the meeting in providing a space for diplomacy and diverse viewpoints, Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, said: “The Annual Meeting serves as a vital platform for inclusive dialogue, bringing together parties to identify pathways toward achieving shared priorities.”

Initiatives:

  • The Forum’s new Global Cooperation Barometer showed that global cooperation has been resilient for much of the past decade, particularly in the areas of trade and capital, innovation and technology, and climate and natural capital, but has been pulled down by a sharp decline in cooperation on peace and security. A new white paper offered diverse ideas on what global cooperation can look like in a fragmenting world.
  • At this year’s Western Balkans Diplomacy Dialogue, leaders from the region and the EU reiterated their commitment to a common European future underpinned by regional growth and stability.
  • The Humanitarian and Resilience Investing initiative announced over 50 commitments that will boost impact investment and could unlock over $15 billion, with new collaborations driving purpose-driven investment in frontier markets.
  • The World Economic Forum, House of Switzerland and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs launched the Global Foresight Network to support a global community of practice across public and private sectors to serve as an incubator to advance future preparedness.
  • The Faith in Action report spotlighted examples of businesses partnering with faith-based groups to support vulnerable populations and address the world’s interconnected crises.
  • Members of the Davos Baukultur Alliance pledged to support the Government of Ukraine by providing technical assistance and resources to the rebuilding process, including the construction of sustainable and high-quality homes for orphans from the conflict.
  • The Forum announced it will hold a special meeting, hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on “Global Cooperation, Growth and Energy for Development” on 28-29 April 2024 in Riyadh.

Economic growth and trade

Participants made the case that a new growth model is needed, one that balances the drivers of growth and productivity with the complexity of innovation, inclusion, sustainability and resilience.

“We must be bold and define a new paradigm of prosperity, a new economic and social orthodoxy that takes advantage of the knowledge and the new tools we have to couple economic growth with environmental sustainability and prosperity for all,” said Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.

“We need to think of globalization not in the way it was done before, but differently. And we need to make sure that those who did not benefit during the first round benefit this time,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

“As we build our economic policies, the question we have to ask is: ‘Will this make the life of the people I represent better?’” said Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada.

“The big issues are how do we address the climate transition? How do we address the needs of ageing societies and broken social security systems? And how do we address the challenges of the AI era and ensure that populations can cope with it and benefit from it?” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of Singapore, on the most pressing challenges for economic policy.

Initiatives:

  • The Global Risks Report 2024 warned of the risks that could pose future economic shocks while the latest Chief Economists Outlook revealed a global economy fraught with uncertainty as well as potential bright spots; two-thirds of economists surveyed said industrial policies may be successful in reviving growth, while generative AI was seen to increase productivity and innovation.
  • The Future of Growth Initiative is a two-year campaign to help policy-makers and economists exchange new ideas and best practices on achieving this balance, supported by the Future of Growth Report 2024 that presents a multidimensional framework to balance GDP with innovation, resilience, sustainability and inclusion.
  • The TradeTech Global initiative outlined a vision for collaborative use of technology for global commerce to unlock trillions in trade, ahead of a major Trade Tech Forum alongside the WTO global ministerial in February 2024.
  • More than 20 trade, finance and environment ministers came together through the Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate to identify a common agenda for sustainable growth within and across economies. Fifteen investment promotion agency heads representing 1.8 billion citizens called for a Climate FDI Coalition to help investment agencies channel climate finance commitments into tangible domestic green growth projects.
  • The Forum launched new trade-facilitating initiatives, including a project aimed at streamlining regional trade in East Africa and a project to measure trade efficiency in El Salvador. The Digital FDI Initiative announced new country projects in Oman and Cyprus.
  • The Forum published new data on current trends in the fintech industry. The Future of Industrial Strategies initiative released a paper that sheds light on new industrial policy trends and opportunities.

Climate, nature and energy

Building on momentum from the UNFCCC COP28 meeting, participants focused their discussions on driving energy efficiencies and addressing energy demand, and protecting and restoring nature.

“We know exactly what we ought to be doing to slow down and eventually reverse climate change and loss of biodiversity,” said Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace. “If only various countries lived up to promises they made about reducing emissions.”

“If you’re not ready to acknowledge science and to recognize the reality of what is happening around the planet with greater intensity – storms, many more floods, torrential rainfall – the damage that is being done by the climate crisis is now costing us already in the billions,” said John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. “It’s going to cost much more if we don’t move now.”

“The companies who do not put enough emphasis on energy efficiency will be less competitive,” added Fatih Birol Executive, Director of the International Energy Agency.

Veronica Nilsson, General-Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, made the case for putting people at the heart of the energy transition. “The only way we can do it is through a just transition,” she said. “You cannot impose changes on people. You have to do the changes with people.”

Initiatives:

  • The First Movers Coalition for Industry has grown to almost 100 companies, providing the world’s largest demand signal for breakthrough climate technologies in high emission industry sectors, such as steel and cement.
  • The First Movers Coalition for Food has launched with 30 partners to aggregate procurement demand for low-emission agricultural commodities and speed up the adoption of sustainable farming, innovations and transitional funding.
  • 1t.org, the World Economic Forum’s trillion trees platform, announced over 100 companies pledging to conserve, restore and grow 12 billion trees.
  • The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders stepped up efforts to reduce Scope 3 emissions, and underscored 10 high-impact measures for governments and businesses in its annual report.
  • The Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) initiative announced new commitments to unlock billions of dollars to finance climate and nature solutions. It also announced a new Big Bets Accelerator to accelerate innovative public-private-philanthropic partnerships and a corporate philanthropy challenge.
  • The Global Commission on Nature-Positive Cities presented new guidelines for rehabilitating nature in the urban context, kicking off a public consultation process to establish a shared definition of the attributes that make a city nature-positive and a set of common metrics to track progress towards them.
  • The new Network to Mobilize Clean Energy Investment for the Global South was launched to provide a platform for developing economies to raise awareness about their clean energy needs, share best practices and sustainably accelerate their energy transitions, helping to unlock an estimated $2.2-2.8 trillion needed for the energy transition, according to a new report.
  • A community of 35 scientists, influencers and experts launched the Earth Decides community, and Culture Moves was introduced to infuse the vision of a net-zero, nature-positive world into the cultural tenets of food, entertainment, the arts, sport and fashion.
  • The Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) welcomed Colombia, the Philippines and Zambia, bringing the network of national action partnerships to 15.
  • The Transforming Energy Demand report outlined actions for businesses and countries to enhance energy management, efficiency and carbon-intensity reduction. The International Business Council and the Centre for Energy and Materials will support the creation of cross-sectoral accelerator partnerships and policies in the key energy demand areas of industry, buildings and transportation.
  • France, China and the US joined the Transitioning Industrial Clusters initiative to drive economic growth, employment and the energy transition. The Transitioning Industrial Cluster Annual Report highlighted their pivotal role in transforming energy demand and enhancing regional competitiveness.
  • Several other new energy reports were published, including: on securing minerals for the energy transition and on a roadmap for green hydrogen adoption in India, as well as a shared aspirations statement from the ASEAN Leaders for Just Energy Transition.
  • More cities announced they are using the Global New Mobility Coalition’s scorecard tool to help benchmark progress toward more sustainable and inclusive mobility. The latest city to adopt the tool is Mendoza, Argentina, which aims to create mobility hubs and install more EV charging stations.
  • A new report quantified the effect of climate change on human health.

Advancements in artificial intelligence and its governance

Discussions on emerging technology at the meeting addressed balancing potential benefits with concerns about security, privacy, safety, accountability, and inclusive and ethical use.

“As a digital technology industry, the biggest lesson learned perhaps for us is that we have to take the unintended consequences of any new technology along with all the benefits,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft.

Speaking on AI, Sam Altman Chief Executive Officer of OpenAI, said: “Even with its very limited current capability and its very deep flaws, people are findings a way to use it for great productivity gains or other gains and understand the limitations.”

Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda, and others argued for the need to “democratize access” to advancements in AI. “At the end of the day, if it’s not affordable, if it’s not accessible, then the digital divide will only be exacerbated,” she said.

“No matter where you were born or where you live, everybody should have access to the digital services that are necessary to fully participate in 21st-century society,” said Hans Vestberg, Founder and Chairman of the EDISON Alliance, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon.

Initiatives:

  • The AI Governance Alliance announced a new global effort to increase AI access by improving data quality and availability across nations, boosting access to computational resources, and adapting foundation models to suit local needs and challenges, releasing three papers on tackling AI governance challenges and shaping responsible and inclusive practices.
  • Four new centres joined the network for the Centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with a centre in Germany to focus on public sector digital transformation, a centre in Viet Nam to focus on green growth, and a centre in Qatar to focus on sustainable development and economic competitiveness. The Forum also signed a letter of intent with Ukraine to launch a centre with a focus on digital transformation of government and digital literacy.
  • The EDISON Alliance announced it has improved the lives of 784 million people through 320 initiatives across 127 countries on affordable and accessible digital solutions in education, financial services and healthcare, reaching 78% towards its 2025 target of improving1 billion lives
  • The Global Lighthouse Network announced 21 Lighthouses, and four Sustainability Lighthouses, that are employing advanced technologies and innovative approaches to boost productivity and sustainability in their operations.
  • The new Digital Healthcare Transformation Initiative will accelerate public-private collaboration around digital health, data and artificial intelligence.
  • The Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance launched its Artificial Intelligence for Social Innovation initiative to allow faster and more responsible adoption of AI for impact, especially in the Global South.
  • Supported by nearly 140 partners, the Global Collaboration Village demonstrated the potential of next-generation technology to drive sustainable change and shape a hopeful future.
  • The Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2024 report was launched, highlighting key solutions to tackle cyber inequity and the profound impact of emerging technologies,
  • A new report on innovations in quantum computing showed how to mitigate new, complex risks posed by emerging technologies.
  • The Alliance for Urban Innovation announced the opening of applications for its first cohort of pioneer cities, which will work with Forum partners and world-leading innovators to advance more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable communities.
  • The Forum’s Global Community of Chief Operating, Supply Chain and Procurement Officers committed to a new effort to support SMEs accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies to realize global goals for growth, sustainability and resiliency.
  • UpLink, the Forum’s open innovation platform, announced that it has raised CHF 37 million ($43 million) in funding through to 2027 to help early-stage impact entrepreneurs scale their people- and planet-focused ventures.

People, equity and human development

Investments in the economy, technology, or the environment cannot succeed without the equivalent investment in people and equitable opportunities. Participants advanced projects on jobs and skills, digital inclusion and healthcare, among others.

“If we don’t want anxiety to preclude progress around AI and its impact on jobs, workers must be included in the process around its risks and deployment through collective bargaining,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary, UNI Global Union.

“The Reskilling Revolution was timely when the Forum launched the initiative four years ago, and it is now even more urgent,” said Jonas Prising, Chief Executive Officer of the ManpowerGroup. “As tech adoption continues at pace, increasing people’s employability and providing them with greater control of their prosperity and earning potential is critical to creating a future that is better for the many, not the few.”

Speaking on a new effort to improve women’s health outcomes, Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development of India, said: “When you look at opportunities in women’s health, it does not only subscribe itself to access to health care institutions; it’s also an economic opportunity for women to come up and be part of the workforce.”

Initiatives:

  • The Reskilling Revolution initiative announced that it reached more than 680 million people with opportunities for improving skills, jobs and education. The Philippines, Viet Nam and Qatar have joined a growing network of 20 Country Accelerators focusing on human capital investments.
  • Jobs Consortium members endorsed the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Initiative to develop lighthouses of generative AI-driven job transitions in 2024, and the Forum released a paper on large language models and jobs.
  • The Forum announced new Skills-First Lighthouses while the Good Work Alliance, a coalition of businesses across 15 industries is setting ambitious targets to provide good working conditions to about 2.5 million workers.
  • The Refugee Employment Alliance has hired over 54,000 refugees globally in the last two years and aligned on pathways to deliver on the commitment to hire 125,000 additional refugees by the end of 2027.
  • The Gender Parity Sprint is a new coalition of business, international organizations and government leaders committing to accelerating economic parity by 2030 within their leadership, supply chains and wider communities, complemented by national efforts in nearly 15 Country Accelerators. The 2024 edition of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses provides case studies for embedding equity in the workplace.
  • The Government of India launched the “Alliance for Global Good – Gender Equity and Equality” as part of Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to inclusive growth and building on the foundations of the G20 presidency, supported by the World Economic Forum.
  • Over 35 organizations developed the Longevity Economy Principles to support healthy, prosperous and resilient long lives.
  • The Global Alliance for Women’s Health announced 42 organizations have collectively pledged $55 million to improve women’s health outcomes worldwide; the Closing the Women’s Health Gap report shows that addressing the women’s health gap could potentially boost the global economy by at least $1 trillion annually by 2040.
  • The Equitable Transition Initiative, launched at the Annual Meeting 2024, will address equity challenges across sectoral and geographical green transitions, based on a new framework in a white paper.
  • The Schwab Foundation announced the winners of the Social Innovation Awards 2024, which recognized 16 organizations that represent a diverse group of entrepreneurs and innovators who are driving the change needed to create a more sustainable, inclusive future. The Schwab Foundation’s Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship launched the Rise Ahead Pledge to support the building of a more just, sustainable and equitable world and meet the $1.125 trillion needed to fund social innovation globally.
  • Global Shapers implemented over 2,400 local projects, directly improving the lives of more than 2 million people and reaching over 12 million stakeholders globally, and announced an Innovation Prize to empower next-generation change-makers.
  • This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Young Global Leaders (YGL) community, which envisioned the future of young leaders for the next 20 years at the meeting.
  • The meeting announced the 30th Annual Crystal Awardees: Diébédo Francis Kéré, Michelle Yeoh and Nile Rodgers.

www.weforum.org

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