The biggest global in-person Mind Meet – the 52nd edition of the annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF) was held at Davos – from May 22-26 for five days bringing together 2,500 global leaders from politics, business and civil society to discuss ways and means to make the world a better place. In addition, many leaders got connected through virtual mode due to continuing Covid-19 stress. The theme for the annual meeting for year was – “History at Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies”. The theme again revolves around six pillars within the theme – (i) global and regional cooperation (ii) economic recovery and growth (iii) health and equitable societies (iv) Safe guarding climate, (v) industry transformation and (vi) fourth industrial revolution.
The summit was held amid a new war-raging situation in Europe even when the fight against Covid continues and the situation is characterized by an emerging multipolar world. Restricted participation of delegates due to health protocols, lack of Russian delegation and low Chinese presence marked the event with the thinner physical presence of delegates. Despite the reduced presence of people, the discussions and debates at the forum were intense, convincing and passionate to resolve the ongoing conflicts and to address the theme related issues. Strong views on Russia and NATO combined with the discussion on strategic long-term issues like climate change, accountability for decarbonisation and the ways and means of harnessing the full potentiality of rapidly transforming digital economy kept the leaders engaged in intense discussions/debates and talks to chalk out actionable points.
The war zone in Europe logically drew debates on the new order of warfare. Contentious points of debates were razed on how to prevent war tactics of tech-driven cyber-attacks, hacking of key life supporting critical infrastructure – water bodies, telecom network, electrical installations, logistics and transport system where basic essentials move for citizens. When such critical system gets hacked, there is lingering damage to the economy in addition to putting life and death of civilians at stake. The world leaders expressed anguish about such changing contours of warfare.
Cyber security threat:
Opinions were highlighted on the innovations and sophistication of cyber threats when seen together with the inevitable speedy digital transformation and exposures critical infrastructure to significant cyber risks with potential cascading impact on the growth and development. The recent experience of global chain interconnectivity and global dependency on each other bring to focus the threats and consequences of cyber-attacks on digital supply chain infrastructure across the world. The experts have brought to focus the need for adopting better and coordinated public-private cooperative model to thwart such attempts. It was pointed out that the Colonial Pipeline attack in the US was ‘real wake up call’ for the cyber security industry in mind that global infrastructure is getting integrated and it is difficult to isolate from one another. Partnering together by different countries for common good to understand the cyber threats and subvert any such attempt with proactive action for driving down cyber risks.
It was notable that 18 global organizations from oil and gas ecosystem came together in WEF to mitigate growing cyber risks and pledged to promote cyber resilience. The global cost of cyber crime was expected to reach US $10.5 billion a year by 2025, bringing cyber crime losses to forefront of policy discussions to curb the trends. In the milieu, the collective action group’s Cyber Resilience pledge was a landmark step signaling recognition of the complexities of developing a cyber resilient industry ecosystem. The commitment and assurance of coordination by the Center for Cybersecurity at WEF can pave way for collective action to achieve global safety.
Actionable global forums:
During protracted discussions and debates on several policy issues and shared global concerns, many focused groups came forward to resolve specific set of problems for common global welfare. While there were many, some interesting strategic groups include – (i) ‘First Mover Coalition’ – a group of 50 global companies launched by US and WEF at COP26 to decarbonise the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors – the sectors that are responsible for 30 percent of global emissions.
Spearheaded by US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, it sends a strong signal to the world, the significance of innovating zero-carbon technology. Some 70 plus CEOs of CEO climate Leaders Alliance agreed on taking bold action to translate the pledges into tangible emission reductions. The commitment covers 26 countries, 12 industries and 120 companies in all. The forum agreed to push for progress on critical 2030 and 2050 global climate targets to deliver a successful outcome at COP 27 in Egypt.
Formation of (ii) Global Collaboration Village marks the beginning to harness the potentiality of the metaverse to create a place where international cooperation can be strengthened. It came to be known as an initiative for – ‘Defining and Building Metaverse’ pooling together stakeholders to define and build the parameters of an economically viable, interoperable, safe and inclusive metaverse. Extending a higher purpose as an enabler, the (iii) ‘Global Coalition for Digital Safety’ has also joined to commit to develop emergency protocols for protecting digital safety to make the internet safer by tackling harmful content and conduct online. (iv) The Reskilling Revolution Initiative launched in 2020 had mobilized a community of over 50 CEOs, 350 organizations from 15 countries to work towards a vision of giving one billion people better education, reskilling and upskilling. A network of country accelerators, a largest consortium of the broad online learning platforms will work together to implement its vision. It is expected to improve employability and reduce poverty.
(v) The Jobs Consortium is formed as yet another group of public and private sector leaders focused on investment in jobs of tomorrow. It will drive a global recovery and investment agenda for next two years to create growth of jobs of tomorrow. New work place standards and better wages for all will be focused on green and tech jobs as the high growth job creating a sector of the future. It will be the commitment to ensure that increased investment and focused action from global leaders can yield a job rich recovery in the future.
Prominent presence of India:
In addition to the delegation of leaders from India, apart from India lounge, the pavilions of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh took prime spots along the promenade. The giant colorful display of India in Davos prominently showcased Indian products and it looked like festivity in the Swiss town. Thus, the presence of India was prominent and everywhere. At the center of many dialogues ranged from crypto technologies to climate change. In Covid-19 vaccination, the efforts of India were hailed. Though India falls within lower-middle- Income country with gross national income of US$1046 to Us$4095 per person in 2020, India could reach 138 doses of vaccine per 100 people as against 121 in peer group of countries. India was described as the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. Coming to the economic aspects of India, IMF expected India to grow at 8.2 percent during FY23 keeping inflation outlook at 6.3 percent in Q1 of FY23 before falling to 5.8 percent in subsequent quarters. The food subsidy to grow to Rs.2.86 trillion while the government debt to GDP ratio is expected to be 85.2 percent during the fiscal. Due to excise duty cut on fuel, there could be pressure on the fiscal deficit. Monetary policy and fiscal policy will be aligned to address these pressure points. WEF 2022 provided enough clues for the policy makers to make full use of the emerging opportunities to work for the better social order.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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