Business | DAVOS SPECIAL 2017

Shaping the future via collaborative efforts

Global events in 2016 have reminded decision-makers that the more complex a system, the greater a community’s concern about its future. The weakening of multiple systems has eroded confidence at the national, regional and global levels. And, in the absence of innovative and credible steps toward their renewal, the likelihood increases of a downward spiral of the global economy fueled by protectionism, populism and nativism.

All the while, the fourth industrial revolution continues to drive the convergence of technologies that blur the lines between physical, digital and biological systems. Our interdependence will not diminish, but more agile, inclusive and collaborative responses are urgently needed to address the complexity and uncertainty in people’s lives. We must hone our capacity to manage the systems that underpin our prosperity and security.

Collaborative efforts in the 20th century yielded the norms, policies and institutions that collectively served as a protective system until today. It is imperative that we again shape such systems through more inclusive development efforts. Enhanced international cooperation and earnest multicultural dialogue are critical to advancing innovations for greater societal impact. The 47th World Economic Forum annual meeting therefore aims to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to achieve common goals and drive new initiatives.

The emergence of a multipolar world cannot become an excuse for indecision and inaction, and that is why it is imperative that leaders respond collectively with credible actions to improve the state of the world. “Responsive and Responsible Leadership” is the theme driving the design of the program, initiatives and projects of the 2017 WEF annual meeting.

By coming together at the start of the year, we can shape the future by joining this unparalleled global effort in co-design, co-creation and collaboration. The meeting in Davos remains a global platform unmatched in engaging leaders from across business, government, international organizations, academia and civil society in peer-to-peer working sessions. The program’s depth and breadth make it a true summit of summits.

Responsive and responsible leadership requires recognizing that frustration and discontent are increasing in the segments of society that are not experiencing economic development and social progress. Their situation will only become more uncertain with the onset of the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on future employment. Responsive and responsible leadership therefore entails a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. It also involves working rapidly to close generational divides by exercising shared stewardship of those systems that are critical to our prosperity.

In the end, leaders from all walks of life at the 2017 meeting must be ready to react credibly and responsibly to societal and global concerns that have been neglected for too long.

The theme of the meeting calls on global leaders to renew the systems that have supported international cooperation in the past by adapting them to today’s complex, multipolar world in ways that foster genuinely inclusive and equitable growth.

To build on this theme, the program focuses on five “gravity centers,” each constructed to help leaders address distinct, yet related, critical challenges in 2017:

Strengthening systems for global collaboration

Updating and redesigning our systems for international cooperation to better manage the effects of globalization

Addressing identity through positive narratives

Inspiring optimism and trust in the future, even as our world gets smaller and more complicated

Revitalizing the global economy

Developing the skills and deploying the capital to address slow growth, unemployment and finance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

Reforming market capitalism

Addressing short-term thinking, self-interested behavior and corruption to build a new compact between business and society

Preparing for the fourth industrial revolution

Preparing workers and economies for the coming convergence of technology and humanity

“Our world continues to become increasingly interdependent, even as political events signal a desire for isolation and a retreat from globalization. To address both of these daunting forces, we must strive for better global governance and leadership systems that are responsive to the need for social inclusion and responsible in finding constructive answers to our multiple global challenges,” said Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman.

The 47th WEF annual meeting will take place from Jan. 17 to 20 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. More than 2,500 participants from nearly 100 countries will meet and participate in over 300 sessions.

The Federal Council of Switzerland recognized the WEF in 2015 as an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

Download the PDF of this Davos Special

Text excerpted from the World Economic Forum’s website

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