Chinese President Xi Jinping favours consultation on world affairs
JOHANNESBURG - WORLD leaders yesterday started discussing the need to close the divide between developed and developing countries amid the global pandemic that has divided poor and rich countries along inequality lines.
The 51st World Economic Forum (WEF), kicked off virtually under the theme: “A crucial year to rebuild trust.”
A year from the start of Covid-19, many countries are struggling to bring the pandemic under control, with almost 100 million cases and more than 2 million deaths globally.
Chinese President Xi Jinping advocated for addressing international affairs through consultation.
Xi said that there was a need to balance Covid-19 responses with economic development as China recently reported a 6.5 percent economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2020.
“We have been shown time and again that to beggar thy neighbour, to go it alone, and to slip into arrogant isolation will always fail,” Xi said.
“Let us all join hands and let multilateralism light our way toward a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Global pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said the group was investing in prevention, early detection and treatment.
Soriot said there was a need to shift to outpatient clinics, and facilitate treatment outside hospitals to avoid a lot of reliance on hospitals.
“We need a shift in mindset to consider health as an asset we invest in rather than a cost to minimise,” Soriot said.
“We’re only safe when everyone is safe and that’s why AstraZeneca is giving its vaccine to everyone at no profit.”
Meanwhile, a growing coalition of more than 50 international business leaders announced their commitment to a common set of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics in their reporting to investors or other stakeholders.
The metrics include non-financial disclosures centred around the four pillars: people, planet, prosperity and principles of governance.
Currently, many different ESG reporting recommendations exist, creating an “alphabet soup” of metrics companies can disclose.
Royal DSM co-chief executive Geraldine Matchett said although there was growing demand from investors who recognise that ESG disclosure was vital for good investment decisions, there was no agreed international framework yet.
“This will be one of the fastest ways to accelerate the systemic change the world needs, putting investors on the right track, helping to change consumer behaviour for the better, and helping companies to do the right thing,” Matchett said.
The announcements mark an important step and show that a unified, private sector voice is gathering pace on a global solution to non-financial reporting.
WEF founder and executive chairperson Klaus Schwab said business leaders were signalling that ESG factors were increasingly critical to the success and long-term viability of all businesses.
“Stakeholder capitalism becomes now really mainstream,” Schwab explained.
“The public commitments from companies to report not only on financial matters but also their ESG impacts are an important step towards a global economy that works for progress, people and the planet.”