With more than 50 high-impact initiatives were launched or profiled, world leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in the first major international gathering of the year to address ongoing economic, energy and food crises laid the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world.
While many economists forecast recessionary risks in 2023 and see geopolitical tensions continuing to shape the global economy, there are glimmers of hope that pressures on food, energy and inflation may be peaking.
“Our world is plagued by a perfect storm on a number of fronts,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for urgent action on a number of interconnected challenges, including the global economic crisis, climate, income and gender inequality, US-China relations, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Now more than ever, it is time to forge the pathways to cooperation in our fragmented world.”
World leaders expressed solidarity with Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country will continue to support Ukraine “for as long as necessary”.
He also said that, despite the war, Europe’s largest economy will avoid a recession this year thanks to its efforts to limit the impact of the region’s energy crisis on the economy, and reaffirmed Germany’s goal of attaining climate neutrality.
China’s Vice-Premier Liu He declared his country open to the world after three years of pandemic isolation, and emphasized international cooperation, economic stability and re-globalization.
Cooperation is becoming more virtual and the Forum’s Global Collaboration Village showed how the metaverse can be harnessed for inclusive and effective international action. With the golden age of artificial intelligence under way, technology will provide more ways to bring people together.
“Through the power of collaboration, innovation, human goodwill and ingenuity, we have the capacity to turn challenges into opportunities. This is the spirit of solving problems through mutual respect and cooperation. This is the spirit of Davos,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
As crises converge, so too must the solutions. The annual meeting emphasized connections across big systemic challenges. With over 480 sessions, more than 2,700 leaders — including over 350 public figures government leaders and 47 heads of state — came together at the annual meeting to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
On geopolitical cooperation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed participants virtually from Kyiv while his wife, First Lady Olena Zelenska, spoke in person in Davos — both urged world leaders to support Ukraine’s 10-point proposal to end the war, which includes an end to hostilities, restoration of the country’s borders with Russia, release of all prisoners and deportees, as well as assurance of food and energy security and justice.
European leaders, including from Germany, Spain, Poland and Finland, pledged their support for Ukraine, highlighting the importance of European solidarity and the need to continue supporting Ukraine’s right to defend itself.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He offered assurances on continuing liberalization and a loosening of restrictions on China’s real estate sector. He affirmed China’s twin goals of achieving peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.
EC President Ursula von der Leyen outlined the Green Deal Industrial Plan to make Europe the home of clean tech and innovation. The strategy rests on four pillars: a regulatory environment that provides speed and access, financing for clean-tech production, upskilling and boosting trade.
The Forum launched a new network of online regulators from the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and Fiji, which aims to create synergies across geographies and protect end users.
The Global Risks Report 2023 ranks the cost-of-living crisis as the most severe short-term global risk, while the failure of climate mitigation and climate adaptation are the biggest long-term concerns for humanity. The risks community identified three priorities for its mandate: risk foresight, strengthening the quantification of global risks; and linking foresight and preparedness.
On growth, investment, trade and infrastructure, the Forum and the government of the United Arab Emirates signed a collaboration agreement on the TradeTech initiative to use technology to overcome trade impediments across sectors and geographies. They also signed an agreement to host the annual meeting of the Forum’s Global Future Council 2023 in Dubai on October 16-17.
More than 50 countries launched a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate to drive inclusive cooperation among trade ministers in the global response to the climate crisis, trade and sustainable development.
The US announced new resources for the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation to advance work in bright spot countries making tough reforms.
A Forum initiative is supporting the WTO’s Draft Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement, which is expected to be completed by the first half of 2023.
The Forum and the Maharashtra Institution for Transformation (MITRA) signed a partnership to work together on the urban transformation agenda, providing strategic and technical direction to the Maharashtra government.
The Circular Transformation of Industries initiative generated commitments from 20-plus leading organizations to drive circularity systemically and at scale to enable an innovative, sustainable and resilient economy through industry-level projects.
Nine leading industrial clusters in China, Indonesia, Japan, Spain and the US have joined the Forum’s Transitioning Industrial Clusters towards Net Zero initiative to help industries reduce emissions.
Eight manufacturing companies committed to join forces and mobilize resources to further scale the Global Lighthouse Network initiative to accelerate digitalization, sustainability and inclusive workforce engagement at scale.
On health, the Forum launched its first thematic centre on healthcare and life sciences in Telangana, India, in collaboration with the state government.
On climate, energy, nature and sustainability, a new initiative, Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA), will leverage philanthropic capital to help generate the $3 trillion needed each year from public and private sources to tackle the climate crisis and nature loss.
The Global Battery Alliance launched a proof of concept for its Battery Passport to help facilitate the rapid scaling of sustainable, circular and responsible battery value chains to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement through electrification of the transport and power sectors.
The president of Tanzania and NITI Aayog CEO committed to joining the Food Action Alliance.
The Forum signed a new partnership with the government of Indonesia to support its ambitions to scale blue carbon restoration and ocean conservation efforts.
The First Movers Coalition ramped up collective climate action by doubling their membership from 35 to 70, adding Canada and the UAE as government partners.
On jobs, skills and education, the Forum announced that more than 350 million people are being reached with better skills, jobs and education through commitments made as part of its Reskilling Revolution initiative, which works with more than 20 governments, 60 global chief executives and a network of over 350 organizations.