World leaders called for rebuilding trust in the face of increasing fragmentation- More than 125 countries, including 350 heads of state and government, and ministers, participated in the meeting.

Edited by Humayun Kabir, Amid rising geopolitical tensions, close to 3,000 policy-makers, business executives, international organization and civil society leaders, academics and innovators from around the world came together for the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum to rebuild a basis of trust, generate new ideas and develop partnerships that can improve outcomes for people, economies and the planet.
More than 450 sessions and workshops took place during the Annual Meeting 2024, facilitating dialogue, debate and alignment across many perspectives. Over the course of the week, the Forum and its partners also launched or advanced more than 50 high-impact initiatives, serving as ongoing platforms for multi-year collaboration across geographies and industries.
“We must rebuild trust – trust in our future, trust in our capacity to overcome challenges, and most importantly, trust in each other,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Trust is not just a feeling; trust is a commitment to action, to belief, to hope.”

Trust, cooperation and security
World leaders called for rebuilding trust in the face of increasing fragmentation:
“Geopolitical divides are preventing us from coming together around global solutions for global challenges,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres,“It is essential that we discard prejudice, bridge differences and work as one to tackle the trust deficit,” said Li Qiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China.
“The world is not at a single inflection point; it is at multi-inflection points,” warned Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. She urged countries to “deepen global collaboration more than ever before.”
Ajay S. Banga, President of the World Bank Group, emphasized the interconnectedness of crises; “We cannot think about eradicating poverty without caring about climate. We cannot think about eradicating poverty without thinking about healthcare. We cannot think about eradicating poverty without thinking about food insecurity and fragility.”
“We have a responsibility to be stewards of our beautiful, small planet’s future,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. “There is something that leaders need to embrace,” she added, “and it is the responsibility to act, even if it’s not popular.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for world leaders to “be realistic but be optimistic” about addressing the complex challenges of peace and security, jobs and decarbonization. “I truly believe that the decisions that can change things are within our hands,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced plans for a potential global summit to push for peace and called for renewed investment in the country. “Strengthen our economy, and we’ll strengthen your security,” he told participants, adding that there will be growth in Ukraine once the war is over. More than 80 national security advisers from governments and international organizations met in Davos to advance a blueprint for peace in Ukraine at the Fourth National Security Advisors Meeting, hosted by Switzerland in collaboration with the Forum.

A series of sessions addressed the conflict in the Middle East. Mohammed Shyaa Al Sudani, Prime Minister of Iraq, warned that unless the international community acts now to end the conflict, there is a risk of a stalemate and a possible expansion of hostilities in the region. Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Hani Al Khasawneh emphasized the need for a comprehensive ceasefire in Gaza and the importance of international support for humanitarian efforts. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for protecting shipping security in the Red Sea and for a meaningful dialogue to end the war in Gaza. Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for new approaches to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. Mohammad Mustafa, Chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, highlighted the complexities surrounding governance and the need for Palestinian unity, and emphasized the financial and logistical needs for reconstructing Gaza.

“I can’t think of a time when there’s been both a greater multiplicity and greater complexity of the challenges that we’re dealing with,” said Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States.
On the role of the meeting in providing a space for diplomacy and diverse viewpoints, Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, said: “The Annual Meeting serves as a vital platform for inclusive dialogue, bringing together parties to identify pathways toward achieving shared priorities.”

Economic growth and trade
Participants made the case that a new growth model is needed, one that balances the drivers of growth and productivity with the complexity of innovation, inclusion, sustainability and resilience.
“We must be bold and define a new paradigm of prosperity, a new economic and social orthodoxy that takes advantage of the knowledge and the new tools we have to couple economic growth with environmental sustainability and prosperity for all,” said Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.
“We need to think of globalization not in the way it was done before, but differently. And we need to make sure that those who did not benefit during the first round benefit this time,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization.
“As we build our economic policies, the question we have to ask is: ‘Will this make the life of the people I represent better?’” said Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada.
“The big issues are how do we address the climate transition? How do we address the needs of ageing societies and broken social security systems? And how do we address the challenges of the AI era and ensure that populations can cope with it and benefit from it?” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of Singapore, on the most pressing challenges for economic policy.
Climate, nature and energy
Building on momentum from the UNFCCC COP28 meeting, participants focused their discussions on driving energy efficiencies and addressing energy demand, and protecting and restoring nature.

“We know exactly what we ought to be doing to slow down and eventually reverse climate change and loss of biodiversity,” said Jane Goodall, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Messenger of Peace. “If only various countries lived up to promises they made about reducing emissions.”
“If you’re not ready to acknowledge science and to recognize the reality of what is happening around the planet with greater intensity – storms, many more floods, torrential rainfall – the damage that is being done by the climate crisis is now costing us already in the billions,” said John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. “It’s going to cost much more if we don’t move now.”
“The companies who do not put enough emphasis on energy efficiency will be less competitive,” added Fatih Birol Executive, Director of the International Energy Agency.

Veronica Nilsson, General-Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD, made the case for putting people at the heart of the energy transition. “The only way we can do it is through a just transition,” she said. “You cannot impose changes on people. You have to do the changes with people.”

Advancements in artificial intelligence and its governance
Discussions on emerging technology at the meeting addressed balancing potential benefits with concerns about security, privacy, safety, accountability, and inclusive and ethical use.
“As a digital technology industry, the biggest lesson learned perhaps for us is that we have to take the unintended consequences of any new technology along with all the benefits,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft.
Speaking on AI, Sam Altman Chief Executive Officer of OpenAI, said: “Even with its very limited current capability and its very deep flaws, people are findings a way to use it for great productivity gains or other gains and understand the limitations.”
Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation of Rwanda, and others argued for the need to “democratize access” to advancements in AI. “At the end of the day, if it’s not affordable, if it’s not accessible, then the digital divide will only be exacerbated,” she said.
“No matter where you were born or where you live, everybody should have access to the digital services that are necessary to fully participate in 21st-century society,” said Hans Vestberg, Founder and Chairman of the EDISON Alliance, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon.

People, equity and human development
Investments in the economy, technology, or the environment cannot succeed without the equivalent investment in people and equitable opportunities. Participants advanced projects on jobs and skills, digital inclusion and healthcare, among others.
If we don’t want anxiety to preclude progress around AI and its impact on jobs, workers must be included in the process around its risks and deployment through collective bargaining,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary, UNI Global Union.
“The Reskilling Revolution was timely when the Forum launched the initiative four years ago, and it is now even more urgent,” said Jonas Prising, Chief Executive Officer of the ManpowerGroup. “As tech adoption continues at pace, increasing people’s employability and providing them with greater control of their prosperity and earning potential is critical to creating a future that is better for the many, not the few.”
Speaking on a new effort to improve women’s health outcomes, Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development of India, said: “When you look at opportunities in women’s health, it does not only subscribe itself to access to health care institutions; it’s also an economic opportunity for women to come up and be part of the workforce.”


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