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Davos 2024: 4 things to know 

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Davos 2024: Here are some of the key moments from this week.

Davos 2024: Here are some of the key moments from this week. Image: World Economic Forum/Pascal Bi

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting takes place in Davos from 15-19 January 2024.
  • Here are some of the key moments from this week.

At the 54th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting global leaders met to rebuild trust, generate new ideas, and create partnerships to advance solutions to the challenges we face.

From artificial intelligence, to climate change and global growth, we discussed how cooperation can help us make progress on the challenges we face today and into the future.

These are some of the key talking points from this week.

Read the full press release on the meeting's impact, launches, initiatives and insights.

Read more on Agenda, dive into our publications, learn more about our impact, or discover just some of the initiatives we've launched this week by following the links.

Agenda

In pictures: World leaders, top experts gather at Davos 2024

1. Leaders need to 'pull together'

Global cooperation and security

On Tuesday morning, Børge Brende reminded us of the complexity of the geopolitical and geoeconomic backdrop against which this year's Annual Meeting took place.

But, António Guterres warned on Wednesday, we mustn't allow geopolitical divides to prevent global responses to global challenges, like climate change or AI, as he called for reforms to global governance systems.

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This call for enhanced collaboration and cooperation was echoed throughout the week, with Ursula von der Leyen, Jake Sullivan, Antony Blinken and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani among leaders who urged dialogue.

Peace and security is possible, Sullivan said on Tuesday, if we 'pull together and make the wise and bold decisions.'

Amid conflict in Ukraine and Gaza, we heard from leaders, including Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Isaac Herzog, Bisher Hani Al Khasawneh, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Mohammad Mustafa as we looked at pathways to peace.

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Cooperation isn't just necessary in the context of security and geopolitics either, with calls from Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron for collaboration in AI governance, while Ajay Banga and Kristalina Georgieva stressed the need for leadership in tackling climate change - even if it's unpopular.

Against this backdrop, we also tackled the issue of disinformation, and looked at the impact of more than 4 billion people going to the polls this year.

And, whatever solutions we're seeking to the issues of cooperation and fostering global solidarity, we need to include a wider range of voices, as we heard in sessions on the North-South schism, Latin America, and the world's 'middle powers'.

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2. 'Projections are not destiny'

A new model for growth

Multiple factors, but also risks, will shape the global economy in 2024.

An uncertain economic outlook underpinned many conversations this week, despite an apparent soft landing from interest rate rises and high inflation, as speakers suggested in our High Rate Reality session first thing on Tuesday.

Consumption, trade patterns, debt, whether inflation will continue to cool, as well as geopolitical risks and fragmentation, were all on the table in our Global Economic Outlook.

The global economy showed remarkable resilience last year, said Christian Lindner, but as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and David Rubenstein reminded us, forecasts are difficult. We're moving to 'non-normality', Christine Lagarde said.

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Overcoming these challenges, uncertainties and risks, requires cooperation and partnerships, argued Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

However, as Mohammed Al-Jadaan stressed, quoting Ajay Banga, projections are not destiny.

So, leaders at Davos this week were asking, how can growth be revitalized? Pedro Sánchez called for a 'new paradigm of prosperity' while Javier Milei made the case for free trade capitalism. A World Economic Forum report this week also called for a new model of growth that balances productivity with equity and sustainability.

Whether through the equitable distribution of the benefits of AI, enhancing gender parity, women's rights, or through the lens of health and climate change, we've heard this week on the nature of the challenge - but also the solutions.

As a result, investments in jobs, skills and people were also a key talking point this week. Across numerous sessions, we looked at creating good jobs and giving people the skills necessary for the future economy.

This is particularly true in the face of the changes to work brought about by generative AI. But, the technology also has the potential to help people gain new skills, through increasingly personalized learning, Jeff Maggioncalda told us.

Managers also need help to support their teams through a skills transition, and partnerships between public and private sectors are vital, Alexi Robichaux and Aisha Rimi stressed.

The role of trade as a driver of growth was also discussed on Thursday, as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joined us. "Without a free flow of trade, I don't think we can recover," she told Davos.

And, as Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak reminded us: "With economic development comes prosperity, with prosperity comes stability, with stability, ultimately, you have peace."

3. 'Humans are going to have better tools'

AI: Opportunities and challenges

AI was a hot topic in multiple sessions in Davos this week. Discussions were clear on the potential, for example, to accelerate scientific discovery, as both Satya Nadella and Albert Bourla told us. But, there were also consistent calls, from both the public and private sectors, for governance, regulation and the equitable distribution of its benefits.

Brad Smith called for a global approach to regulations, Jeremy Hunt said regulations should be 'light-touch', while Sam Altman said that all people must be involved in the development of the technology, because AI won't replace our understanding of each other.

"Humans know what other humans want. Humans are going to have better tools. We've had better tools before, but we're still very focused on each other."

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Ensuring workforces of the future are prepared and able to take advantage of all that AI offers will be essential as well, as Julie Sweet told us in our Generative AI: Steam Engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? on Tuesday.

As Hadi Partovi stressed, we need to teach AI tools to everyone, so they don't lose out to someone who understands the technology better.

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Philosopher Michael Sandel explored the ethical questions AI poses, beyond jobs, fairness, privacy and democracy to whether technology would affect what it means to be human.

Finally there was some consensus that human qualities will prevail and that human connection will remain relevant.

Nick Clegg highlighted the need for the political, societal and ethical debate to happen "in parallel" as the technology is evolving.

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4. 'Urgency is our only saviour '

Tackling climate change and building new energy systems

We have an 'existential climate crisis', Ajay Banga told us on Wednesday. "A sense of urgency is our only saviour", he said. It was a message repeated throughout the week.

As John Kerry told a session on what we need to do after COP28, it can't be business as usual. We have the technology, he said, but we're not deploying it fast enough.

We cannot continue to base future business models on the depletion of nature and resources, Jesper Brodin stressed. Companies that do will fall by the wayside, he believes.

This was a sentiment echoed by Fatih Birol in the context of the energy system. “The companies who do not put enough emphasis on energy efficiency will be less competitive,” he said.

It's important not just for business though, he explained, but also to protect consumers from high bills, to boost energy security and to reduce environmental footprints.

Failure to act on climate change doesn't just have implications for the planet. "The climate crisis is a health crisis," said Vanessa Kerry. As Jane Goodall said, "Isn't it ridiculous that we're destroying the only home we have?'

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But, as we work to make these changes, we must ensure the transition is equitable. “The only way we can do it is through a just transition," Veronica Nilsson told us.

This requires investment and financing, as Ester Baiget explains below. Or, as Kristalina Georgieva, put it, taking resources from where they hurt, to where they help. Mariana Mazzucato agreed, saying it's not a lack of finance that's the issue, but a 'massive misdirection'.

And, Luc Triangle reminded us, it's a question of trust:

"Developed countries have to assist in the financing of climate action in the developing countries because if we don't do that, this inequality will only grow and you will have winners and you will have losers... Rebuilding trust cannot be limited to only a number of countries. It has to include the whole world."

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And there'll need to be widespread change to infrastructure too, as Kyriakos Mitsotakis told us, when he talked about the investment needs for the European grid.

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Contents
1. Leaders need to 'pull together'2. 'Projections are not destiny'3. 'Humans are going to have better tools'4. 'Urgency is our only saviour '

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