Reform Agendas for Economic Growth and Social Inclusion

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Across the world, growth and productivity have slowed while middle classes in some industrialized countries face rising levels of inequality and insecurity. An expanding middle class in emerging markets also has higher aspirations and increased demand for quality public goods. Middle classes across both the industrialized and the emerging countries are putting increased pressure on governments.  As a consequence, electorates are pushing back against some of the features of globalization. Policy-makers must urgently work on identifying priorities for public policy action jointly with the private sector. Based on the Global Competitiveness Report and the Inclusive Growth and Development Report, the methodology of workshops and competitiveness labs, as well as new work with the OECD Development Center on policy prioritization, will help develop public-private action plans for growth and inclusion.

By mobilizing resources and commitments across a broad spectrum of stakeholders, and providing them with information to make decisions based on the World Economic Forum’s Reports, this project seeks to foster competitiveness and inclusive growth in selected economies through workstreams in different regions of the world: Latin America, Europe, and Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia.The Competitiveness Lab Latin America is the largest and most advanced workstream under this umbrella. The initiative was launched in 2013 to create actionable agendas for public-private collaboration to enhance innovation and related skills. It has convened a steering board whose recommendations were revealed at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Davos. In the second phase of the project, Colombia and Mexico are supported in their efforts to develop a public private financing scheme for innovation. The results of the labs were presented to the Steering Committees in the Summer of 2016. In the third phase of the project which will run from 2017 to 2018, two additional countries in Latin America, Brazil and a second country to be selected, will be supported in developing actionable agendas to enhance innovation and related skills.

The Europe Competitiveness and Inclusive Growth Lab is a second workstream under this umbrella and is a joint effort between the World Economic Forum, the European Investment Bank and the think tank Bruegel. The Lab presented results of the first phase at AM17, providing detailed diagnosis of the competitiveness and inclusive growth challenges in Europe and identifying areas for public-private collaboration at the EU and sub-regional level. Preliminary diagnosis was presented at the Annual Meeting 2016 where business partners had the opportunity to participate in a session to begin the prioritization and defining the work flow for the year. 

The MENA workstream stems from a demand and a mandate given to the World Economic Forum by members of the MENA Regional Business Council (RBC) at the Dead Sea summit in May 2015 when top executives from the Middle East and North Africa Regional Business Council (RBC) explored new action-oriented solutions to the challenges facing the region. As a key outcome of the meeting, members of the RBC mandated the World Economic Forum to identify priority areas for actionable policy reforms.  A discussion paper summarizing the outcomes of the consultation has been prepared and presented to members of the RBC. Selecting six potential areas to be accelerated through public-private partnerships: enhance the efficiency of the labour market, modernize bankruptcy and insolvency regulation, simplify the process of creating a company, reduce bureaucracy and strengthen government capacity to reinforce contracts, build a functional arbitration hub in the region, and improving governance and transparency. The Lab will further build on collaboration between the World Economic Forum and the World Bank on the production of a MENA Competitiveness Report based on the Global Competitiveness Report.

A final workstream focuses on ASEAN with interest from several countries in the region to build on the Global Competitiveness Report insights and identify regional action agendas. 


Making progress on competitiveness requires coordinated and articulated efforts involving government, business, civil society at the national and subnational levels. The World Economic Forum, through the Competitiveness Labs that build on the Global Competitiveness Report, is uniquely placed to facilitate new forms of structured public-private dialogue to design agendas to close competitiveness gaps identified in the reports and establish a new Inclusive Growth and Development Hub and set of methodologies to facilitate public-private collaboration and the design on actionable agendas to close competitiveness and inclusion gaps.

The goal of the project is to support and accelerate these reform agendas for competitiveness and inclusive growth at the regional level and in selected countries in Europe and Latin America and at the regional level in Middle East and North Africa, and ASEAN. This will be achieved through a wide range of activities, depending on the need of the region. Most concretely by designing implementation plans for public-private collaboration to bridge the main gaps as identified by the World Economic Forum research on competitiveness and inclusive growth and the facilitation of structured public-private dialogue between key players lead by steering committees and multi-stakeholder working groups.