World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 Closes with Initiatives to Address Global Problems

25 Jan 2019

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 (0)79 201 0211; Email:

· The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting this year celebrated a host of exciting and innovative measures to address some of the world’s most pressing environmental, social and political problems

· The success of these initiatives hinges on continued commitment of all stakeholders

· The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 will be held on 21-24 January

· For more information, please visit

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 25 January 2019 – The 49th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting closed today with an exciting agenda of global initiatives and commitments to better the state of our world.

To address the myriad of complex challenges brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum President Børge Brende said the Forum would continue to leverage its platform for public-private cooperation and the greater good.

“We cannot solve the most pressing global challenges without unique partnerships between government, business and civil society,” Brende told participants.

Commending the tremendous outcomes of the meeting this year – from global initiatives to tackle plastic waste and mental-health drives to facilitate peace in countries besieged by conflict – Brende called for integrated global action to repair broken trust and uphold dignity for all.

Shaping a global architecture adapted to the pressing challenges of our time, said Brende, is crucial and can only be achieved “with all stakeholders at the table”.

Below is a selection of outcomes from the Annual Meeting. To review the entire announcement, click here.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan pledged his country’s G20 chairmanship to the development of an agenda for global data governance. Abe said that the process, dubbed the “Osaka track”, would work under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to multilateralism in a plenary address at the Annual Meeting, calling on leaders to find common ground in search of a strengthened, but more flexible, global architecture. Striking a similar note, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan reiterated the values of the rising superpower, stating China’s wish to work with all countries for common development, promoting global growth and upholding the international order.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a united response to global challenges, underlining the importance of multilateral institutions and advocating for leaders to understand and address the root causes of social unrest.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described social unease as “new winds blowing across the world” and stressed America’s commitment to leadership and national interest in a changing geopolitical environment.

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern unveiled a new approach to the country’s finances, announcing a “well-being budget” to gauge the long-term impact of policy on the quality of people’s lives.

Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, outlined the reforms his new administration is planning: Reducing the size of the state, lowering the tax burden, improving social safety nets and fostering greater business opportunities. The president declared Brazil open to the world and told participants his government would lead by example.

The leaders of Brazil, Colombia and Peru, along with the Foreign Minister of Canada, proclaimed their countries’ backing of Juan Guaidó, leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament after he declared himself interim president. A day earlier, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez called on Guaidó to take action.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, asserted his country’s commitment to democracy. Ghani reminded participants that Afghanistan has passed 390 new laws since 2015 and significantly increased the number of women in politics.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan advanced negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during a meeting at the World Economic Forum.

The prime ministers of Italy and Spain called for a radical revision of global economic systems and committed their countries to transformative economic change to improve opportunities for working people.

The Presidents of South Africa and Rwanda called for the continent to take advantage of digital technologies in order to spur job creation and develop human capital. Presidents Paul Kagame and Cyril Ramaphosa urged governments to keep up with young people’s engagement with technology and put ICT at the centre of Africa’s socio-economic development goals. The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, outlined his country’s policy reforms and invited business to invest in Ethiopia.

Building a new economy and society

Reskilling and upskilling workers: The Forum’s Closing the Skills Gap Initiative, launched in 2017 in collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services, announced it has secured pledges for training more than 17 million people globally, as well as supporting public-private partnerships that promote future skills in Argentina, India, Oman and South Africa. The Forum also released a study showing that 86% of the $34 billion total cost for reskilling workers displaced by technology over the next decade will likely fall on the government.

Closing the gender gap: The Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society announced it is expanding its network of Closing the Gender Gap national task forces to eight countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Panama and Peru.

Preparing civil society: With financial backing from PACT and the Children’s Investment Fund and backed by 25 civil society organizations, the Forum launched a new initiative, Preparing Civil Society for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, aimed at helping civil society meet the challenges presented to it by rapid technological change.

Promoting equality: A group of international businesses teamed up to launch the Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality. Members of the partnership agree to operationalize the UN’s LGBTI Standards of Conduct worldwide throughout their business by 2020. The partnership plans to enlist at least 50 other member companies by 2020.

Supporting fragile economies: The Forum joined forces with the World Bank and International Committee of the Red Cross to launch a High-Level Group on Humanitarian Investing to unlock private-sector capital for investment in fragile economies.

Environmental stewardship

Protecting the natural world: Sir David Attenborough urged participants to care for the natural world, describing the threat posed by climate change as “difficult to overstate” and urging participants to reconnect with the natural world.

Eliminating electronic waste: The Forum’s Centre for Global Public Goods initiated a project to create a formal electronic waste recycling industry in Nigeria, backed by $2 million in funding from the Global Environment Facility and supplemented by $13 million of financing from business. The Forum, in collaboration with the United Nations E-waste coalition, released a report outlining the scale of electronic waste produced each year, which is set to more than double by 2050.

Reducing deforestation: Peru joins the Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance in a bid to help the country achieve its target of reducing deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon. The country is home to the second-largest area of Amazonian forest after Brazil.

Tackling plastic pollution: The Government of Viet Nam joined the Forum’s Global Plastics Action Partnership (GPAP), committing to using a circular economy approach to tackle plastic pollution.

Mobilizing people for the planet: Voice for the Planet, a global campaign to build a movement for a new deal for nature and people was launched by US Vice-President (1993-2001) Al Gore, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Anand Mahindra of Mahindra Group. The campaign, powered by the Global Shapers community, garnered 21,000 individual pledges within 48 hours.

It is also important to note that the Forum fully offsets the carbon footprint of all participants by buying carbon credits from South Pole, a Forum Social Entrepreneur.

On the Forum’s platform for public-private cooperation

Reusable packaging: A total of 25 global businesses announced they will work with Terracycle, a recycling specialist and Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, to launch the Loop Alliance Initiative, a new concept of reusable packaging. The scheme, which will involve customers paying a refundable deposit for durable packaging with no extra fee for collection, will recover the environmental costs of production after three or four uses.

Sustainable consumption and production: Google and SAP announced Circular Economy 2030, a $400,000 competition to support entrepreneurs who promote sustainable consumption and production.

Mental health: The Wellcome Trust committed $260 million over five years to improve understanding of depression and anxiety. Research will concentrate on psychological therapies that can be delivered early in life and at the onset of illness, as mental health problems typically start at a young age. Elisha London, Chief Executive Officer of United for Global Mental Health, champions those with lived experience and highlighted the key role of civil society.

Antimicrobial resistance: UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock launched a five-year plan to tackle the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, which is predicted to result in a global death toll of 10 million people every year by 2050. The plan sets out how the UK will achieve its vision for a world in which antimicrobial resistance is contained and controlled by 2040, covering health, animals, the environment and the food chain.

Sickle cell disease: The Government of Ghana, the Ghana Sickle Cell Foundation and Novartis launched a partnership to help improve and extend the lives of sickle cell disease (SCD) patients in Ghana. SCD is expected to affect around 14 million newborns by 2050, 82% of whom will be in sub-Saharan Africa.

Empowering youth and accessibility: The Global Youth Alliance was launched at the Annual Meeting by Facebook, Nestlé and Nielsen to support skills for young people in emerging and developed countries and help 71 million currently unemployed young people.

Disability Inclusion: #Valuable500, a new campaign was launched at the Annual Meeting to help release the social and economic potential of the 1.3 billion people around the world who live with a disability. The campaign led by activist Caroline Casey aims to gather the support of 500 companies within one year. Unilever, Accenture, Fujitsu and Barclays are among the first companies that signed up to the pledge.

Increasing e-commerce and trade: Rwanda became the first African country to join Alibaba’s global trading platform, which is aimed at increasing e-commerce in emerging markets. Meanwhile, a group of more than 70 countries confirmed intentions to commence WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce, and members of the Forum’s business and civil society trade community issued a statement calling for a new digital trade deal for the global economy.

Cyber-experts brought together by the Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity stressed the importance of global cooperation and multilateralism as a crucial condition to tackle malicious cyber-activity. The Cyber Centre and the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson, launched a project to protect airports and other critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network announced it has grown to more than 100 businesses and governments, including five G7 nations. Colombia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will open Affiliate Centres – independent institutions committed to helping shape and pilot policies for emerging technologies.

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh adopted the Network’s policy framework for commercial drone operators, developed in collaboration with civil aviation authorities, international governmental organizations and private companies. The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Japan launched a coalition of G20 cities focused on accelerating the responsible and sustainable development of smart cities.

The Co-Chairs of the Annual Meeting 2019: Basima Abdulrahman, Founder, KESK Green Building Consulting, Iraq, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Ebril Hub); Juan David Aristizábal, Co-Founder, Todos por la Educación, Colombia, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Bogota Hub); Noura Berrouba, Member of the Governing Body, European Youth Parliament, Sweden, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Stockholm Hub); Julia Luscombe, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Feeding America, USA, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Chicago Hub); Mohammed Hassan Mohamud, Zonal Chairman, Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Kakuma Hub); Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corporation, USA; and Akira Sakano, Co-Founder and Communication Director, RDND, Japan, and World Economic Forum Global Shaper (Osaka Hub).

The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting brings together governments, international organizations, business, civil society, media, culture, foremost experts and the young generation from all over the world, at the highest level and in representative ways. It engages some 60 heads of state and government, over 300 ministerial-level government participants, and business representation at the chief executive officer and chair level. For further information, please click here.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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