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The Davos Agenda

Today's theme: Driving responsible industry transformation and growth

Unilever: ESG is now mainstream

ESG used to be a 5 minute mention with a junior member at the end of the meeting, now it is part of the core discussion.

—Alan Jope, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever

Blackrock: We're going to need $50 trillion

In a session today exploring how companies, investors and governments can work together to advance a long-term approach to capitalism around the world, Laurence D. Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at BlackRock said,

"2020 was a pivotal year. We saw an extraordinary shift in how investors invested across every industry you see a widening gap between the best performing and worst," he said. Much of it is caused by stakeholder capitalism.

"We're going to need $50 trillion in investing to get to a net-zero world. It's not a small price tag, but the opportunity is going to be large."

Technology is changing how we invest, he added. "As more companies report and we have better data at each corporate level, we're going to be able to customize and personalize portfolios." That's going to be the difference in companies that succeed and ones that don't.

Supporting social entrepreneurs on the front lines

A radical new mindset and approach are needed to drive transformative change in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. This week, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs launched its #2021Roadmap in support of social entrepreneurs on the frontlines of the crisis.

Calling for the need for an inclusive, sustainable recovery, the Alliance - currently counting 84 members, representing 90,000 social entrepreneurs, and touching the lives of 1.9bn people - called for 2021 to be the year for breakthrough collaboration.

Its ambitious roadmap includes 21 member-led Action projects clustered around 10 themes that are critical to their agenda and range from ensuring relief and recovery capital reaches social entrepreneurs and small and growing businesses everywhere, to longer-term agendas such as accelerating social sourcing in corporate supply chains.

The Alliance is looking to expand its Circle of Leaders, of which Forum strategic partners Johnson & Johnson, Thomson Reuters, Ernst & Young, Salesforce, SAP, and Unilever are already a part.

Salesforce on improving the state of the world

The business of business used to be business, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff explained in a session on implementing stakeholder capitalism today.

Today, the business of business is improving the state of the world.

—Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce

"The public is counting on us to make the right calls more than ever before," he said, citing the Edelman Trust Index showing businesses are more trusted to the public than governments.

"CEOs are more committed to running businesses for all stakeholders, not just shareholders," Benioff said. "This is a pivotal year to look at the evidence."

"CEOs are the heroes of 2020," he added, citing the progress on vaccines.

The age of the multigenerational workforce

50 global companies join together to support age-inclusive policies.

As people live and work longer than ever before, how can companies foster a multi-generational, inclusive workforce?

A new World Economic Forum initiative aims to help companies do just that.

Fifty global companies representing more than two million employees and $1 trillion in annual revenue have come together, along with the Forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and AARP to create the Living Learning and Earning Longer initiative.

The initiative curates a digital platform that employers can use to find case studies, statistics and research on the advantages of a multi-generational workforce.

Read the impact story on the initiative here.

Cargill says food systems ARE resilient

David W. MacLennan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Cargill joined a session on value chains - and how to make them transparent, inclusive and more connected.

He spoke to the idea of resilience. He said, “The food system is resilient… by and large (during the pandemic) food was able to get where it was needed.”

He thinks there’s a connective supply chain – “no one entity can feed the world by itself”.

And people no longer take the supply chain for granted. “Sustainability can’t wait”. He says "it’s a major presenting issue and it did not pause because of COVID."

He also spoke about the importance of supporting farmers all the way along the value chain - and how technology such as blockchain can help with transparency.

IKEA: buys back to be better

In conversation with the Forum, Jesper Brodin, CEO of IKEA owner Ingka Group, explains why embracing circular thinking has become a core business priority for IKEA.

Willis Towers Watson and Zurich Insurance talk about risks

Beyond pandemics, the increasing frequency and severity of a range of catastrophic risks are making greater resiliency a defining mandate for corporate leadership.

The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2021 places infectious diseases at the top of the highest impact risks for the coming decade. These are followed by climate action failure and other environmental risks; as well as weapons of mass destruction, livelihood crises, debt crises and IT infrastructure breakdown.

Global Risks Report 2021
Image: World Economic Forum

Business leaders discussed at The Davos Agenda the best corporate practices and cross-sector partnerships to help deliver a more sustainable and proactive response to future catastrophic shocks.

John J. Haley, Chief Executive Officer, Willis Towers Watson highlighted that the identification of risks and creation of buffers and contingency plans has not been something that has been widely adopted by businesses in the past. He believes COVID and its impacts have changes the way corporate boards are beginning to think about this.

"In the past it was just a cost, increasingly it’s going to be looked at as asset. We're going to have to build a flexible and agile organization that can respond to these things, and climate change is chief among these large-scale risks."

Haley also says the key to resilience is not anticipating everything and getting it right, but anticipating the flexibility and agility you need. "You need to continually test your assumptions about resilience."

Mario Greco, Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Group says COVID-19 has shown we cannot outsource solutions to governments, but neither can the private sector solve this alone, as it doesn't have resources or capacity.

Greco says Zurich launched a resilience service, which would help companies prepare to manage any climate risk on their premises.

Swiss Re and IKEA ahead in the race to net zero

Swiss Re and IKEA talk about the race to net zero as a warm-up to discussions tomorrow at The Davos Agenda, on the role of business in achieving climate goals.

Christian Mumenthaler, Group Chief Executive Officer at Swiss Re

Christian Mumenthaler, Group Chief Executive Officer at Swiss Re, says,

"The private sector can play a dynamic role in decarbonizing our world and we can do that more effectively by working across industries and learning from each other.

"That's why I'm excited and honoured to co-chair the World Economic Forum's Alliance of climate leaders which brings together CEO's from around the world and from across industry sectors.

"Together with Jesper Brodin CEO Ingka Group, IKEA, we discussed how we can collaborate and grow the Alliance to accelerate progress in the #RaceToZero."

The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders is a global network of chief executive officers who see the business benefits of bold and proactive action to ensure a smooth transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. The group represents business leaders from diverse industry sectors and regions that use their position and influence to drive change.

This Alliance further seeks to catalyze and aggregate action and initiatives from companies from all industry sectors — towards delivering concrete climate solutions and innovations in their practices, operations and policies.

Novartis: digital healthcare is having a moment

Science-based progress rises to the occasion when humanity is most in need

—Vasant Narasimhan, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis

Vasant Narasimhan, Chief Executive Officer, Novartis, says, "If we come together around a shared purpose to shape a healthier future in our time and for generations to come, we can ensure the story of the COVID-19 pandemic ends with a bold global movement that embraces digital healthcare.

"And we can ensure we come out on the other side of this pandemic with stronger health systems and a refuelled, refocused, cross-sector collective of leaders that will prove once again, as our species has for centuries, that science-based progress rises to the occasion when humanity is most in need."

Lung Cancer Alliance: launches new report, AstraZeneca a partner

Lung cancer is the largest cause of cancer deaths around the world, with over one million deaths per year. Exacerbating this impact, over 40% of countries report a complete or partial disruption to lung cancer services due to the pandemic.

In response, the Lung Ambition Alliance and the World Economic Forum have launched a series of recommendations for governments and regulators on how to improve the short- and long-term resilience of lung cancer services, to ultimately improve patient outcomes.

A new report has been produced by the World Economic Forum and the Lung Ambition Alliance and supported by AstraZeneca in partnership with the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) and Guardant Health.

The Lung Ambition Alliance is a flagship partnership of diverse organizations united in the quest to eliminate lung cancer as a cause of death.

The Alliance aims to accelerate progress and bring meaningful change for lung cancer patients by amplifying the expertise of each partner and prioritizing meaningful projects with potential to further its goal.

The founding partners – the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), Guardant Health, the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) and AstraZeneca – are committed to explore and overcome barriers to screening and early diagnosis, the development of innovative medicine and quality care, and pursue an ambitious vision for the future in lung cancer that starts with doubling five-year survival by 2025.

Health of the financial system - business highlights

Ana Botín, Group Executive Chairman, Banco Santander joined the session on "Strengthening the Financial and Monetary System" today. Botin said " "Vaccination is the most effective 2021 economic policy" and "when there is a crisis, Europe makes progress. And there has been significant institutional progress."

Thomas Buberl, CEO AXA asked "How long will interest rates stay low?" He thinks this is a concern and that we need to make sure that we have sufficient savings and sufficient yield on the savings in order to pay for our retirements.

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