Last summer’s Rio+20 sustainable development conference was deemed a political failure by media and NGOs. At the time, I said it was not down to governments alone to solve the world’s problems. We are all in this together. We’ll only get out of it with collective effort.
The Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos has unique potential to represent the world as a single entity albeit of hundreds of governments, thousands of businesses and billions of people.
But it meets for only five days of the year. If we are going to change things for the better, we have to keep the conversation going. However, we have created some archaic and bizarre barriers to having that conversation – we can, and must, pull them down.
The key to the Forum’s potential as a force for good is that senior politicians and business leaders can meet and talk at Davos as human beings and not necessarily just to their paymasters’ agenda. Whatever else we may be, we are all human beings facing an uncertain economic future, rapidly dwindling natural resources and a growing understanding of the threat posed by society’s imbalances. All these are on the Forum agenda.
Thanks to communications technology, these conversations are not confined to the corridors and meeting rooms of Davos. They are available to the entire world as they happen via Twitter, Facebook and, of course, this blog.
These global communications services appear readily available and practically free to use. Yet peel back the outer layers of any such service and you will find the service providers having to deal with a complex, country-by-country matrix of telecoms regulation to get the thing delivered.
In some countries, this regulation fosters competition; in others, it plays against it. Quite often it simply lets the incumbent national phone company continue with anti-competitive practices.
If we agree that problems are best solved by talking them through and implementing a solution together, if we agree that modern communications technology provides us with an unequalled ability to have those conversations and to share those solutions, then surely it’s time we agreed on a single set of pro-competition rules to provide for our communications infrastructure worldwide?
Author: Niall Dunne is Chief Sustainability Officer at BT and previously led sustainability practices at Saatchi & Saatchi and Accenture. He was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012.
Image: The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting logo is seen in Davos REUTERS/Pascal Lauener