Global Cooperation

This is what needs to happen to achieve good growth, according to experts at Davos

Plant growing out of the ground.

Innovation and collaboration are important for growth. Image: Jeremy Bishop/Unsplash

Gareth Francis
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Global Cooperation

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Business and government leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos to discuss how to achieve good global growth in challenging times.
  • In the session 'Good Growth: Lessons From the Field,' panellists emphasized the importance of innovation, collaboration and a human-centred approach to progress.
  • The session was linked to the Forum’s The Future of Growth initiative, which suggests a framework to help countries prioritize key growth measures in its latest report.

“A simple ‘return’ to GDP (gross domestic product) growth is not enough. Instead, each country must undertake a unique and complex journey towards achieving innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth, while contributing to global resilience.”

These are the words of Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum, in its Future of Growth Report 2024, which explores why, collectively, we must expand our thinking to achieve good growth.

In a session at the Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, chaired by Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership, Hertie School, leaders from global governments and businesses came together to discuss what good growth looks like in an unpredictable world.

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The session, Good Growth: Lessons From the Field, included Ravi Kumar S. Chief Executive Officer, Cognizant Technology Solutions US Corp, Elisabeth Svantesson, Minister of Finance, Ministry of Finance of Sweden, Carlos Cuerpo Caballero Minister of Economy, Trade and Enterprise of Spain and Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, Kearney.

Together, they discussed findings from the report and explored how in a world where the new normal is no normal, we must be prepared to rethink growth.

Here are some key learnings from the session.

It’s time to explore new growth models

While the panellists acknowledged the value of traditional means of measuring GDP, they stressed that other elements now need to be considered to achieve good growth.

“[GDP] is necessary, but it's not enough,” said Svantesson. “It's the best we have but, of course, we need to have different measures for [other things] like employment, happiness.”

Caballero added that in the face of so many economic challenges, it is a perfect time to reassess what good growth might look like for different societies.

“It's a good moment now to not only strengthen the usual definition, because GDP measurement has gone through seven, eight decades now of changes,” he said. “We need to update them, upgrade them, but also think of these additional dimensions that are in place.”

The Future of Growth Report 2024 includes a framework that aims to provide countries with a transparent and holistic way to deliberate on how to prioritize four key growth measures: innovativeness, inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience.

The Future of Growth
How the world is faring on 4 key growth dimensions. Image: WEF

Good growth requires collaboration

Panellists also discussed the power of collaboration in unlocking good growth. Kumar S. pointed out that while governments can’t necessarily create growth, they can work closely with businesses and educational institutes to understand and tackle challenges together.

“The one thing governments can help to create good growth, inclusive growth, of course, it's a partnership with the private sector and academia,” he said.

Liu added: “You want your leaders to help you unlock and unleash your people’s energy, your sense of purpose, your sense of the ability to solve all these problems.”

The panel considered the advantages of creating a culture of lifelong learning that starts in school and continues throughout people’s careers.

“We are used to a system where we go to schools for the first 25 years of our life, and then we work all our life,” said Kumar S. “We have to get to a paradigm of ‘skills are short’, which means what you have studied 40 years, 30 years ago, 20 years ago is no longer [as relevant].

“You need to … create lifelong learners and create lifelong learning infrastructure for people to live.”

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How is the World Economic Forum fostering a sustainable and inclusive digital economy?

All efforts must be human-centric

The session also explored the importance of putting people at the centre of growth, with Svantesson stating “human capital is everything”.

“People-oriented policies help give positive energy,” added Liu. “It gives you the ability as a worker to feel like ‘Other people are in support of what I'm doing. I'm not just being a victim of all the change. I'm now being given the resources to solve some of these huge problems in the world’.”

Caballero also stressed the need for a people-first approach: “We're talking about human-centred policies and growth. So good growth is humanistic growth, and sustainable growth has to be humanistic growth as well.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was another key area of discussion – what impact it might have on growth, and how it can be balanced with a human-focused approach. Considering AI's many challenges and opportunities, Kumar S. urged caution around the issue of regulation.

Foundation or large language AI models could have “lighter” regulation, he suggested – to avoid stifling innovation. However, tighter rules may be necessary for products that use AI technologies to prevent their misuse and protect the end user.

Concluding the session, Liu called for nations to work together to find collective solutions that allow for good growth. “None of these problems are going to be solved by one company or one country, or even one international forum,” he said.

“The theme of this Davos is rebuilding trust, and to have trust you have to believe that the people in power are authentically committed to actual dialogue and actually solving these problems, providing these tools, providing the mobility, providing the technology, providing the safety net, in sharing the joy, measuring the happiness and the sense of belonging.”

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Related topics:
Global CooperationDavos AgendaEconomic Progress
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