As expected, this year’s World Economic Forum continues to illuminate environmental, economic and societal issues around the world. Sessions conducted these last few days have narrowed down specific themes while presenting new challenges. Here are some highlights.
01: Jack Ma’s Insights & Thoughts On Success
Jack Ma believes in globalization but wants more companies and businesses to be a part of this. With the help of pioneering technologies; platforms like Alibaba, for example; small businesses and entrepreneurs can also benefit from this economic trend.
He says it is not enough that only the biggest companies in the world should control the global economy. Emerging technologies should turn this around.
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02: Climate Change, Pollution & The Environment
Pollution, particularly from plastic waste, should be addressed by adopting cost-benefit principles: is reducing plastic waste simply a burden or a business/economic opportunity? State policy changes and business involvement are key factors in this discussion.
Sir David Attenborough’s speech about, “The Age of Humans” poignantly described how the world has changed in just one human’s lifetime: his. He pointed out that “We are destroying the natural world and with it ourselves.” The world’s environmental issues can be solved if we educate ourselves to what’s at stake and encourage our governments to take immediate actions.
03: Trade Wars & The Global Economy
Chinese state and business leaders described their country’s outlook and their views on the global economy. Trade wars and how these would affect tech companies, in particular, were discussed. China’s economy is slowing down and is projected to continue for the next few years. However, its government will continue to implement policy reforms that should lessen the effects of this trend.
04: New Zealand’s Well-Being Budget
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, presented a new fiscal policy in her interview: the “well-being budget.” Ardern noted that “We need to address the societal well-being of our nation, not just the economic well-being,” during the discussion on More than GDP. The plan will consider societal issues when creating spending/budget proposals. This ensures that people’s well-being, not just economic gains, is prioritized by all levels of government.
05: Where Is Europe Heading?
The unity that binds Europe is under threat; with Brexit, waves of protests, economic instability, the issue of migration, and the rise of populism as some of the major issues faced last year. Three political leaders from Europe gave their various points of view on the third day of World Economic Forum’s Annual Meet – Italy’s Giuseppe Conte, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez, and Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Conte noted that “We are radical, but we are radical because we want to bring the power back to the people.” and he ended his speech by saying that Italy did not want to walk the path of change alone.
Sanchez highlights that if inequality is not addressed, nationalist policies could drag people back towards disaster. He stressed that the economy should always be at the service of the people.
Merkel’s tone, on the other hand, is more optimistic. Despite the challenges of Brexit, migration and other issues, she urged people to think beyond their narrow national interests and to reform global institutions with a view to achieving “win-win” outcomes.
Other prominent leaders such as UK Prime Minister Theresa May & French President Emmanuel Macron were not present for this year’s forum. May has to deal with the Brexit crisis in UK while Macron needs to resolve gilets jaunes crisis back in France.