World Leaders Urge Mindset Change to Build Trust, Foster Collective Action in the Year Ahead

29 Jan 2021

Public Engagement, World Economic Forum,

  • World leaders met during the first Davos Agenda under the banner of rebuilding trust in a critical year
  • Heads of state and government, chief executives and civil society leaders urged collective action to combat climate change and emerge stronger from a pandemic that has strained lives and livelihoods
  • Partnerships and initiatives to address crucial economic, social and environmental challenges were launched
  • The conclusions from the Davos Agenda will feed into platforms, initiatives and projects for the upcoming Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore

Geneva, Switzerland, 29 January 2021 – The first virtual Davos Agenda closed today following calls from more than 24 heads of state and government and over 1,700 participants from business and civil society to address the crucial challenges facing us all.

Setting the tone for the meeting were discussions about stakeholder capitalism, in which companies seek long-term value creation by taking into account the needs of all their stakeholders including society at large. This fed into more than 140 sessions, which considered the need for greater collaboration, placing sustainability and a green agenda at the heart of economic recoveries, and how to use technology to help achieve this.

We need to move from a world which is just based on material objectives, to one that is much more conscious of the wellbeing of people,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He added that “we are witnessing a mindset shift from short-term profit maximization, to “a world that is much more characterized by stakeholder responsibility”.

Schwab said the pandemic has shown that companies committing to stakeholder capitalism perform much better because they invest in the long-term viability of the company. In Stakeholder Capitalism, he also called for a much wider definition of capital, one that includes “human, social and natural capital” because all those aspects combined to create wealth and prosperity.

Sustainability and support for the vulnerable were emphasized. Special addresses and active participation from heads of state, government and international organizations discussed the importance of containing COVID-19 and working quickly to mitigate further fractures in society. Business leaders echoed these calls and urged cooperation and innovation to address crucial economic, social and environmental challenges in the year ahead.

World Economic Forum President Børge Brende said: “Recovering from the pandemic and shaping our future in a more equitable, sustainable and resilient manner can only happen if stakeholders work together.” He noted that “The most pressing issues we are facing do not recognize borders. But deep and meaningful global cooperation is not always a given. It requires deliberate action, one that focuses on people, the planet and prosperity, and where collaboration will be the defining element.”

Below is a selection of outcomes, project milestones and new analysis from The Davos Agenda week.

Designing cohesive, sustainable, resilient economic systems

· A global coalition of 54 organizations representing 13 industries and 6.5 million employees committed to building more equitable and just workplaces. The Partnering for Racial Justice in Business Initiative provides a platform for businesses to collectively advocate for inclusive policy change and set new global standards for racial equity. Each company commits to one tangible policy change, one board discussion and a new long-term strategy.

· At the end of its first year, the Reskilling Revolution initiative announced that more than 50 million people overall have received support for developing new skills. The initiative will continue to scale up its skilling activities in its second year, while expanding its work in education, job creation and work standards, as well as setting new targets for inclusion.

· The Closing the Skills Gap country accelerators are developing and implementing national strategies for reskilling and upskilling. Reaching up to 47 million individuals, accelerators are active in 10 countries with Georgia, Greece and Turkey having recently established accelerators, and a further six accelerators under discussion for 2021.

· The Preparing for the Future of Work industry accelerators are now estimated to have reached nearly 8 million employees to prepare them with future-oriented skills. The Chief Human Resources Officers Community has reached a further 4 million employees, bringing together leaders to share best practices and mobilize action to provide better jobs.

· The Valuable 500, a global chief executive officer community transforming disability inclusion through business leadership, announced that more than 400 businesses have joined the initiative since launching at the Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters. Each business commits to one tangible action for inclusion and one board discussion for longer-term reforms.

· A new Global Taxonomy for skills was released in partnership with the Skills Consortium, representing more than 200 million online learners. Over the coming year the taxonomy will be adopted by business, government and education institutions to create a common language and comparability between skills in the workforce.

· Upskilling for Shared Prosperity reveals that upskilling has the potential to boost GDP by $6.5 trillion and create 5.3 million jobs by 2030 and must be a core part of the next wave of fiscal stimulus from governments to combat the negative effects of the pandemic.

· The Lighthouse Projects on Social Justice and Sustainability Initiative will bring together leaders integrating social justice into their sustainability strategies. A comprehensive analysis and best practices will be produced later this year.

· Global Shapers and Impactscool created Courageous Conversations, an interactive game offering individuals and organizations the opportunity to dig below the surface of the future workplace – engaging diverse, multigenerational stakeholders in dialogue on nine critical factors to shape the future of education and labour systems.

Driving responsible industry transformation and growth

· More than 60 business leaders, including members of the World Economic Forum and its International Business Council (IBC), have committed to a set of Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics – universal, comparable disclosures focused on people, planet, prosperity and governance that companies can report on, regardless of industry or region.

· The Forum’s COVID Action Platform now has more than 40 projects in the works and 1,800 members from business, government and civil society. Sessions during The Davos Agenda brought together key leaders to discuss vaccine roll-outs and mitigating the secondary impact of the global pandemic.

· Although health systems have been disrupted by COVID-19, diseases like dementia carry on and will affect 150 million families by 2050. The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC) is a first-of-its-kind, global multistakeholder effort to accelerate the discovery, testing and delivery of precision interventions for Alzheimer’s.

· Experts are calling for public-private collaboration to reduce preventable lung cancer deaths. They have released 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.

· Data scientists in the Forum of Young Global Leaders continue to drive #Mask4All – a global movement calling on people and governments to follow the overwhelming scientific evidence that wearing masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19.

· Recognized by the World Health Organization, Global Shapers have implemented grassroots projects in 150 cities around the world to amplify trusted public health information, support public health systems, protect livelihoods and build more inclusive community responses for vulnerable groups to the COVID-19 pandemic.

· The Forum launched a high-level task force of health and healthcare experts and influencers to resource, scale-up, globalize and accelerate the most rigorous and sustainable public-private partnership efforts to strengthen epidemic anticipation, preparedness and response.

· Incubated by our Global Future Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Production, the Make At Home initiative was launched to accelerate more inclusive, resilient and sustainable business models. The initiative supports underserved communities by giving them the tools and network to participate in global supply chains and manufacture components from their households.

· The Forum released a report revealing that data-driven operations are key to the future of manufacturing and identifying six organizational and technological priorities to increase productivity, develop new customer experiences and ensure a positive impact on society and the environment.

· To support COVAX’s goals of supplying 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines, global shipping, airlines and logistics leaders from the World Economic Forum Supply Chain and Transport Industry Action Group, together with UNICEF, signed a charter supporting inclusive vaccine delivery in low- and middle-income countries. Multiple signatories have stepped forward with tangible collaboration proposals, with UNICEF and DP World this week sharing details of the first published agreement.

· The United Kingdom announced it would work with the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow Initiative to develop new policy tools to drive the deployment of sustainable aviation fuels.

· The COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs grew to 85 members supporting 90,000 social entrepreneurs in more than 190 countries, reaching almost 2 billion people. The alliance has raised $500 million in support of #socents and vulnerable populations and launched 10 Action Clusters to advance crucial project work.

Enhancing stewardship of the global commons

· To feed 10 billion people sustainably by 2050 requires innovation in how we produce and consumer food in different ways, in different countries. To accelerate this innovation, a network of Food Innovation Hubs has been launched by the Forum and key partners around the world. They will provide inputs to the forthcoming UN Food Systems Summit.

· A new report, Nature and Net Zero, highlights the potential of natural climate solutions to deliver one-third of the carbon emissions reductions needed by 2030. Building on the recommendations from the Taskforce for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, this report sets out six actions to accelerate the scale-up and estimates $10 billion a year could become available, particularly for emerging economies.

· President Iván Duque of Colombia, together with the InterAmerican Development Bank and the Forum, launched the BiodiverCities by 2030 initiative, which will harness the potential of cities to cut emissions and protect biodiversity while encouraging sustainable urban development.

· The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders welcomed a new report that identified how eight supply chains account for more than 50% of global emissions and fully decarbonizing these would add just 1%-4% to end-consumer costs. The report outlined nine ways to do this and how to get started.

· The Mission Possible Partnership is a new coalition bringing together more than 400 companies to forge net-zero pathways and the actions necessary to achieve them. It builds on work launched at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019 to help seven heavy industry sectors cut their carbon emissions.

· Plastic pollution continues to be a global challenge. The Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) welcomed the inclusion of the Government of Nigeria to advance national efforts to fight plastic pollution alongside existing members Ghana, Nigeria and Viet Nam. Since young entrepreneurs play an important role in this fight, GPAP also announced an inaugural cohort of eight youth champions who will serve as project advisers.

· Supported by UpLink, Global Shapers in Navi, Mumbai, are partnering with Forest Creators, Art of Living (IAHV) and Frugal Labs to plant 1 million trees using Miyawaki Afforestation and internet of things technology.

· More than 400 organizations and companies launched the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change to facilitate a resolution of the ongoing crisis facing more than 1 million seafarers.

· The Forum and partners launched a new Climate Trade Zero initiative to work towards securing improved trade rules for climate-friendly production and consumption.

· Nine cities and more than 70 organizations are working to reach a net-zero carbon future. Together with the Forum, they launched a framework to help cities rethink urban ecosystems, to ensure that they are more efficient, resilient and equitable.

· For the first time, analysis has quantified the key economic benefits – and billion-dollar opportunity – that Earth Observation data could bring to the African continent.

· 2030Vision report “Harnessing Technology for the Global Goals: A framework for government action” detailed ways to help governments and other public-sector bodies engage in the critical conversations needed to deliver progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

· At The Davos Agenda, the presidents of COP25 and COP26, UNFCCC and business leaders came together to announce the mobilization of public-private action on climate change – the Race to Net Zero for COP26. The Forum will use its Special Annual Meeting in Singapore to assess progress.

Harnessing the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

· Almost one-half of the global population remains offline. The EDISON Alliance will accelerate digital inclusion, address inequality and connect critical sectors of the economy. It is the first global mobilization of public sector and industry leaders from all industries to ensure everyone can participate in the digital economy.

· More than 10,000 grassroots innovators answered the call made last year by UpLink, the Forum’s digital platform to crowdsource innovation. Some 900 entrepreneurial solutions to protect our oceans, tackle COVID-19 and support our’s Trillion Trees initiative have been submitted.

· The Global AI Action Alliance brings together more than 100 companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions to accelerate the responsible adoption of AI in the global public interest.

· The Forum’s Future of Cities Initiative will provide a new platform for business leaders to commit expertise and resources to support cities on the road to recovery.

· Business leaders have called for more global action on the responsible development of artificial intelligence, citing new potential risks as cities and authorities embrace these tools to fight the spread of COVID-19. In response, the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India is spearheading a new collaboration with the public and private sectors to forge a AI Strategy Framework for cities.

· The Coalition for Trustworthy Internet of Things aims to increase public understanding and awareness of connected devices, such as security cameras, wearables and voice assistants while also ensuring that trust and security are incorporated into their designs.

· The G20 has made technology a key component of its goal to close a $15 trillion global gap in infrastructure investment. As a practical tool to advance this work, the Infrastructure 4.0 initiative mobilized the public and private sectors to establish a use case library, with more than 65 use case and 130 technology-specific case studies, covering more than 40 countries.

· The Forum’s Future of Real Estate initiative launched a new taskforce to shape the way we work towards more flexible, technology-enabled spaces that enhance well-being and productivity.

Advancing global and regional cooperation

· The Principles for Strengthening Global Cooperation call for peace and security, equity, gender equality and sustainability. This set of seven principles, developed by the Forum’s Global Action Group, is intended to serve as a compass for global relations.

· In early 2020, the foremost chief executives, public figures, civil society representatives and experts on Africa convened to share and define a regional vision and drive action based on the region’s needs and priorities. This Regional Action Group for Africa released its first insights on how policy-makers can accelerate free trade following the ambitious Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

· Underpinning many of the sessions throughout the week were the findings of the Global Risks Report 2021, released just before the start of The Davos Agenda. Increasing disparities and social fragmentation in the next three to five years will threaten the economy, and in the next 5-10 years will weaken geopolitical stability. Environmental concerns still top the list in terms of likelihood and impact for the next decade.

· The CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal has set out to tackle emissions throughout the value chain to create a greener and more resilient economy.

· The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation increased the number of projects on practical border reforms to make it easier to move goods across borders.

· More than 30 members of the Regional Action Group for the Middle East and North Africa, a high-level community consisting of ministers, chief executives and civil society leaders, have endorsed the Principles of Stakeholder Capitalism. Tokenization of digital assets, tackling metabolic disease, fostering economic integration and social inclusion, as well as achieving environmental sustainability will be the focus of the next working groups.

· The World Economic Forum’s new report, Indian Cities in the Post-Pandemic World, highlights the country’s most pressing urban challenges, which were further exacerbated by the pandemic, and provides insights for translating the lessons learned from the pandemic into an urban reform agenda.

· Global Shapers will lead a youth-driven recovery plan, aggregating the ideas and concerns of citizens in 150 countries and territories to help shape 10 big recovery efforts for the current decade.

About The Davos Agenda
The Davos Agenda has been a pioneering mobilization of global leaders aimed at rebuilding trust to shape the principles, policies and partnerships needed in 2021. It featured a full week of global programming dedicated to helping leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year. Heads of state, chief executives, civil society leaders, and global media participated in 140 sessions spanning five themes.

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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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