50th World Economic Forum Meeting: Can the consensus reached by the top 1% improve the state of the world?

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Every year, around the middle of January, the world’s most elite gather at the World Economic Forum to talk about the current challenges we face. This year’s theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” centred around climate change and carbon footprints (with the young Greta Thunberg making a special appearance), mental health, and of course, the way technology might shape the 21st Century.

As a first-time member of the Forum Media Team, I found myself both enthralled and utterly overwhelmed at the sheer splendour of the event. Despite yearly claims made by reliable news sources, the participants of this event did not down champagne, glass after glass, while chatting with one another about how well off they are compared to the rest of the world. Walking through the Congress Centre day after day, escorting the Chinese media to their interview rooms to set up, I found Ann Kurth, Dean of the Yale Nursing School, wiping coffee off her skirt, Greta chatting with her friends and Autumn Peltier, 13-year-old Chief Water Commissioner of the Anishinabek Nation asking when they would be serving lunch. Unimportant as these descriptions may seem, they made me realise that despite being a member of staff, I was in fact surrounded by ordinary people. Ordinary people who have done incredible things. Ordinary people who have worked tirelessly to get to where they are, not because they knew it would lead to their glorification, but because they knew it would make a lasting difference in the world.

When talking with Itzik Harari, Yuval Harari’s husband, I was given insight into the endless hours he had spent researching for his books as well as discussing them in great detail with the world’s leaders. I was also fortunate enough to follow around CCTV’s Tian Wei while she interviewed countless professors and Chinese leaders about the current Coronavirus epidemic. All these experiences have shown me just how worried leaders, businessmen and young entrepreneurs alike are about our uncertain future. But it is this uncertainty which enabled the conference to achieve the level of success that it did. Despite the uncertain future of discussions involving Greta Thunberg and US President Donald Trump, centred around climate change, the general takeaway from the conference was that we need concrete solutions and we need them now.

One such solution in the making is that several major countries have expressed their interest and dedication to making climate-related disclosure mandatory for companies, in time for COP26, the major climate summit in Glasgow in November. I myself have long been concerned that current ESG indices are too broad to isolate the potential climate impacts but from Davos, I have gained more conviction that climate-aware indices will be developed and that investors will flock at scale to exchange-traded funds or others benchmarked to such indices.

There is of course much more to be done and many more issues to be discussed before tangible solutions and legislature can be put in place. But this particular event, secluded from the rest of the world so that the focus may be placed completely on cooperation communication, remains the catalyst for the change the world so desperately needs.

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