Working together to improve the state of the world

The annual World Economic Forum summit in Davos is frequently seen as the bellwether of the global economy. As some (or even most!) of the world’s most influential politicians, opinion leaders and businessmen gathered late this January to discuss the state of the world, the discussion revolved around the theme for this year’s summit – ‘Shared norms for the new reality’.

In the words of Klaus Schwab – the founder and Executive Chairman of the Forum – after a decade of unforeseen changes, we now live in a new reality – and never before has the world faced so many serious challenges simultaneously.

I could not agree more. The fundamental challenges to inclusive and truly sustainable development and growth are truer today than ever before.

As I worked my way through Davos week listening to some of the smartest minds of our time debate the world’s future – I could not help but feel that all the challenges we face are coming back to the most fundamental issues that affect mankind – food, water and energy.

And I came away feeling ever more strongly that if we can solve the energy puzzle, we can go a long way in solving the other two – and through that address poverty, opportunity, and the cycle of development.

To my mind, there are three parts to this –

  • Creating affordable energy
  • Taking energy to all
  • Building this through low carbon means to drive sustainable development

I believe with these goals we have the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the world’s economic future. With these we have the levers to create meaningful, decent jobs that we so badly need. We need to create a low carbon economy to check the threat of climate change, and with food, water and energy security – remove the seeds of future conflict.

Here and now we have the opportunity to secure a better future for generations to come. This isn’t philanthropy. This is the reality we are living in.

If we don’t address this now, if we don’t act with a sense of urgency, if we don’t deliver – I fear in our inaction we will have laid the foundations of tearing down life as we know it.

To quote Professor Schwab again: “This may prove to be difficult. But one thing is certain: We can't keep doing the same old thing in a new era that requires new responses.”