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World Economic Forum kicks off today in a world full of disruption

WORKERS are seen on the construction site of a pavilion for the upcoming World Economic Forum 2022. Picture: Reuters.

WORKERS are seen on the construction site of a pavilion for the upcoming World Economic Forum 2022. Picture: Reuters.

Published May 23, 2022


MORE than 2 500 of the world’s leaders from politics, business, civil society, academia, media and the arts meet in the Swiss mountain village of Davos today, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) hosts its first in-person annual meeting for more than two years.

In a world facing lower growth, rising inflation and interest rates, massive supply chain disruptions, a continuing impact of Covid-19, climate changes and unprecedented geopolitical risks such as a protracted war in Ukraine, the meeting this year aptly is themed “History at a Turning Point Government Policies and Business Strategies.”

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The meeting, which ends on Thursday, will see the leaders attempt to find solutions to the world's most urgent challenges.

Delegates include more than 50 heads of state. “It happens at the most consequential geopolitical and geo-economic moment of the past three decades and against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century pandemic,” The WEF said on its website.

South African government ministers, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor and Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi are scheduled to be among the smattering of leaders from Southern Africa at the meeting.

“The war in Ukraine and the resulting tragedy calls for global moral action. Leaders will address urgent humanitarian and security challenges as they simultaneously advance long-standing economic, environmental and societal priorities – all while reinforcing the foundations of a stable global system,” the WEF said.

Some meeting sessions address global cooperation, economic rebalancing, society, equity and global health, nature, food and climate, industry transformation, and innovation.

Meanwhile, the WEF on Friday released a White Paper: Resilience for Sustainable, Inclusive Growth, which outlines key drivers of resilience that have implications for business, climate, food, and energy, people, education and organisations, healthcare, sustainable economic development, trade and the supply chain, digital trust and inclusion, and finance and risk.

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The WEF said the aim was to develop a comprehensive view of resilience and its drivers to help policy-makers and business leaders recognize the opportunities and lay the foundations of sustainable and inclusive, long-term global growth.

Børge Brende, the president of the WEF, said Covid-19, climate change, the war in Ukraine and the ensuing refugee crisis were the latest reminders of the unprecedented capacity of external shocks to disrupt economies and societies.

“In a world of continuous, overlapping disruptions, organizations need to build and manage resilience to secure a sustainable, inclusive future for all,” Brende said.

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The United Nations, World Economic Forum, McKinsey Global Institute, International Monetary Fund, and other leading organisations estimate that a big share of GDP growth will depend on how much organisations and societies develop resilience.

“Growth differentials of between 1 percent and 5 percent globally can be expected depending on how leaders respond to the many challenges, including climate change, the energy transition, supply-chain disruptions, healthcare availability, and income, gender and racial inequalities,” said Brende.

The WEF, with McKinsey & Company, will also launch The Resilience Consortium, a public-private leadership effort to drive global resilience. The consortium would bring together leaders from the public and private sectors who were committed to advancing resilience globally, across regions, economies and industries.

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