Keynote address by Professor Klaus Schwab at the World Forum on Sport and Culture

Klaus Schwab
Founder, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
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It is a great honour for the World Economic Forum to be a partner of this World Forum on Sport and Culture.

This week, the World Economic Forum had the opportunity to engage our over 600 Young Global Leaders from over 90 countries, our cultural leaders and representatives of our member companies with this launch event. With the World Forum on Sport and Culture, Japan is taking its first important step on its exciting journey toward the year of 2020 when the Summer Olympics and Paralympics will take place in Tokyo. Thank you Prime Minister Abe and Minister Matsuno for your leadership and great partnership.

We are at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By 2020, this revolution will have further transformed not only business models and economies, but also our societies at large. The Summer Olympics 2020 will be the first games in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Let me share with you four thoughts about the role of sport and culture in this new age.

First, I am reminded of the Japanese concept of Shu Ha Ri, which teaches us first to learn, second to absorb and third and final, to develop our own level of mastery. This means that Japan and Tokyo can rely on the 120 years of the modern Olympic Games, but it will also develop its own mastery in accordance with what the hearts and minds of people living in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution aspire for. We admire Japan for its culture and today particularly for the force of its industrial innovation, and I am sure that the latest technologies made in Japan will not only support the Olympic Games, but also enable new levels of digital mastery.

But let’s not forget: robots are born from the ingenuity of our mind but sport and culture are expressions of our heart and our soul. The forthcoming Olympic Games provide a great opportunity to harmonize both and to marry digitalization with humanization or in other words: to promote and strengthen human dignity in a robotized world.

My second thought relates to the mindset of people being fostered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and by the fact that it is not only changing our business models, but also the way we live, we work, we interact and we communicate.

Digital tools are giving rise to a more empowered citizen, providing people everywhere with a more amplified voice, a greater reach and the ability to express their concerns and ask the question: What’s in it for me?

Leaders can maintain today the trust of people only if they accept that the response to such empowered citizens is good governance, transparency, and respect for diversity. Ultimately, the only institutions that will survive will be those which respond to professional and moral integrity. I should also add modesty, by taking into account the need for fostering a much more inclusive world, where so many people feel “left out”.

Sport and culture leaders have become the heroes of our time. They are celebrities and celebrated. But they have an enormous responsibility: to act as role models celebrating those virtues which we want to see developed in every citizen and particularly in the young generation.

My third thought is a consequence of what I’ve just shared: people do not just want to be part of something, they want to be engaged. The old separation between active and passive, between actor and spectator is dissolving. For the big sports organizations as well as the World Economic Forum, this means being aware of how we extend beyond mega events and transform into true global platforms.

We have to provide our constituencies – our stakeholders – with the organizational capabilities and convening power in a sustained and continuous way.

We have to define ourselves as a comprehensive process continuously catalysing activities and initiatives, here united by the Olympic spirit and in the case of the World Economic Forum, united by our mission – “improving the state of the world”.

My final thought: In an interconnected, complex world, everything is embedded into a larger ecosystem. Sport and culture do not exist as societal silos. We need – in preparing the Olympic Games – a systems approach where we cultivate as many positive relations and as much interconnectedness between sport, culture, the economy, society, the environment and individual health and well-being.

These all are integrated drivers of a common objective and purpose: to create a humanity:

- which respects each individual and cultivates diversity and

- a humanity where people imagine how the world could be better and take personal responsibility to act.

Let’s take this responsibility.

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