As almost 2,000 leaders of government, business, civil society, academia and the arts converge in the Chinese city of Dalian for the World Economic Forum's 'Summer Davos', here are five of the best articles we have published in the run-up that touch on the main themes of this year's Annual Meeting of the New Champions: leadership in the face of technological change, global warming, geopolitical uncertainties and rising inequality.

Humans are still evolving, but this is no longer merely a matter of biology. Science and technology are playing an increasing role and gene editing could make natural selection redundant. But, just like the once mighty dinosaurs, we are far from immune from extinction, and in the " Anthropocene" era, the existential threats such as climate change and resource depletion are largely of our own making.

A girl looks through the replica of a neanderthal skull displayed in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina February 25, 2010. The high-tech, multimedia museum, with exhibitions depicting the evolution from 'Big Bang' to present day, opens on February 27. REUTERS/Nikola Solic (CROATIA - Tags: SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY) - GM1E62Q00JZ01
Image: REUTERS/Nikola Solic

A scheme to offer free coal for people to heat their homes gave scientists a unique opportunity to compare a population exposed to high levels of air pollution with a similar set of people breathing cleaner air.

The study showed people living on the north bank of China's Huai River, who were burning the coal, had an average life expectancy 3.1 years less than their neighbours on the other side who did not get the free energy. In an interview, a young scientist explains how China is waging war on its pollution problem.

"Leadership with decisions made based on scientific evidence might have avoided bequeathing my generation with problems like climate change, energy poverty, air pollution, wars, water shortages and the looming refugee crisis, to name a few."

So writes Enass Abo-Hamed, who is both a scientist, as a Fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering and Imperial College London, and an entrepreneur, as CEO of energy storage technology startup H2GO Power.

The best leaders should combine a scientific approach to facts with the disruptive energy of entrepreneurs - "the initiative-takers; the ones who seize gaps in a system or a faulty process and turn them into opportunities by introducing change in the form of innovation," writes Abo-Hamed, a co-chair of the AMNC.


China's massive economic surge has made it the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gas blamed for climate change. And like every country in the world, it will feel the impact. As part of its preparations for increased flooding, China plans to retrofit its cities to make them "sponges" that can absorb sudden influxes of water.

Cities are investing in permeable pavements, artificial ponds and wetlands and rain gardens that store excess rainfall in underground storage to be discharged into rivers after water levels have receded.

On the eve of the AMNC, US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to restart trade talks, bringing the world back from the brink of a global trade war. But the deeper problems are unsolved. so our backgrounder on the issue remains essential reading.

And here are three unexpected consequences of a possible trade war on wine, tourism and mobile devices.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1D2FDA4690
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019
Image: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque