Davos Agenda

Public figures call for inclusive growth at Growth Summit 2023

More than 30 public figures participated in the Growth Summit 2023. Image: World Economic Forum

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Davos Agenda

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  • The World Economic Forum's Growth Summit 2023 was held under the theme "Jobs and Opportunity for All".
  • The summit brought together leaders from around the world to shape a new vision for resilient, sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • Public figure participants included officials from dozens of governments and international organizations.

The World Economic Forum's Growth Summit 2023 was held under the theme of "Jobs and Opportunity for All" and focused on three key themes: enabling resilient growth; developing human capital; and accelerating economic equity.

The summit, held 2-3 May at the Forum's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, welcomed over 400 participants including high-level officials from over 27 countries and more than ten international organizations.

Public figures in attendence included: Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO); Faisal Alibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning, Ministry of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia; Mmusi Kgafela, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana; Mayra Jiménez, Minister for Women of the Dominican Republic; Dipu Moni, Minister of Education of Bangladesh; Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt; Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission; Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of Education of the United Arab Emirates; among many others.

Below are some of the key highlights from public figures participating in the summit:

Beyond mere economic growth

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, the Director-General of the ILO, promoted the concept of the "three pillars of growth", which looks beyond just evaluating economic growth.

The pillars, which Houngbo noted need to advance simultaneously, include economic growth, environmental protections and social spending.

When we talk only about economic growth, this is what the youngsters don't want to hear.

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, ILO Director-General
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Education and the need to reskill

Dipu Moni, Minister of Education of Bangladesh, spoke about the important shift taking place in education. "We need more skills and knowledge but our traditional system is not equipped to deliver that".

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Ahmad Belhoul, Minister of Education of the United Arab Emirates, discussed the difficult decisions many young people face as they weigh the long-term commitment of higher education versus taking a faster, skills-first approach to job-seeking.

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Belhoul also touched on the threat that generative artificial intelligence tools like Chat-GPT pose to education systems around the world.

"We should not be lazy and use the same forms of assessment that we did before," he said. Instead, Belhoul suggested creating assessments which test the cognitive abilities of students, rather than their memory."

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Younes Sekkouri, Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills for Morocco, also discussed the importance of focusing on future generations. Sekkouri noted that economies must now determine how best to create quality jobs that fit the skills and priorities of younger generations.

We are talking about generations for which the priorities are different.

Younes Sekkouri, Minister of Economic Inclusion of Morocco
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Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights at the European Commission, spoke about the problem of skills shortages and youth unemployment. These issues, Schmit explained, need to be tackled in unison and can be addressed by investing in the upskilling of young workers around the world.

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Investing in workers — and the climate

Rania A. Al-Mashat, the Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt, echoed the need to invest in upskilling and reskilling of workers around the world. In particular, Al-Mashat stated that upskilling and innovation in key sectors such as renewable energy and agriculture will be critical in dealing with pressing issues like the climate crisis.

It is through innovation that we can meet the climate goals faster.

Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt
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Investment into clean energy sources were also given close examination by Mmusi Kgafela, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana.

The African nation gets 3,200 hours of sunshine each year, Kgafela said, calling for coordinated investment in solar technologies to harvest this massive potential resource.

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Jürgen Karl Zattler, Director General of the German Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, discussed the ongoing reconstruction and shifts that are reshaping the global economy.

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One technology playing a huge role in this global economic shift is AI. Michael Schwarz, Corporate Vice-President at Microsoft Corp expressed optimism about its impact on the jobs market, stating that 'it's a good thing when AI makes us more productive.'

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On healthcare, Ricardo Baptista Leite, Member of Parliament of the Portuguese National Parliament, called for a renewed focus on preventative medicine and finding cures for diseases to reduce the pressure on healthcare systems around the world.

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Delivering jobs and resilient growth

Nena Stoiljkovic, Undersecretary-General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, spoke about the policies needed to ensure the best possible outcomes for migrants.

“We are talking about millions of people… before they can even think about jobs, they need a place to live, they need food, medicine, they need healthcare, education, they need to put their kids in schools, even before we talk about integrating them into the economy they have all of these life issues that someone needs to take care of,” she said.

Nena Stoiljkovic, Undersecretary-General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Nena Stoiljkovic, Undersecretary-General for Global Relations, Diplomacy and Digitalization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Image: World Economic Forum

Delivering new jobs and resilient growth was a theme that ran through many of the sessions at Growth Summit 2023. Bandar Alkhorayef, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, said human capital is always something that needs to be advanced, "in a manner that allows our future generations to be ready for future jobs."

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Watch all of the sessions here.

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