Davos - Events such as the US elections and the Brexit referendum had created negative narratives led to uncertainty in many parts of the world, and this called for a new narrative of hope - especially for those who felt a severe form of dislocation.
Leading tech and cultural leaders debated the current global climate during a session at the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on Wednesday, and said that despite present difficulties, they saw reason for optimism.
"We are in a unique point of time," said Meg Whitman, President and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the US and a Co-Chair of the 2017 WEF meeting in a statement from WEF.
"We need to create a new narrative and restore hope for people who have been economically dislocated, especially from technology."
Although advances in technology had been credited with bringing hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, modernising medicine and agriculture, and connecting a lot people, there were also negative impacts – the digital have-nots.
"Often there is a negative tech narrative," said Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), citing job losses and the displacement of people.
She called for identifying positive narratives, saying: "When there is good ownership and partnerships, these fuel being together." Sheryl Sandberg, COO and member of the board of Facebook, added that narratives were a core part of creating community and resilience. "To have a shared identity, you have to have some common understanding of your past and some common belief in your future," she said.
Having a name, face and identity were key elements.
"When you make it human, this is when we can come together." Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, documentary filmmaker of SOC Films in Pakistan, and also a WEF 2017 Co-Chair, was a good example of someone whose narratives gave a voice and a face to women in Pakistan and Afghanistan who had been discriminated against.
"Storytelling and narratives are good ways to give voices to people, and for people to understand the issues," she said. "My work is a vehicle to start conversations and lobby governments to change laws."
After her award-winning documentaries were shown to audiences in Pakistan, the government made stricter laws to address honour killings and acid violence against women.
Working in a country where music was banned for years under the Taliban, Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), uses music to create a positive narrative.
"I believe we can change current narratives in Afghanistan through arts and culture," he said. Sarmast's music academy brings together boys and girls from different ethnic backgrounds to perform together across the country.
"Without investing in the arts, it is impossible to get sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan," he said.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY