Sustainability becomes central in Davos while the World Economic Forum (WEF) celebrates its 50th anniversary

Davos, 24 January 2020, UNDP Administrator Mr. Achim Steiner attended the 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. This year’s forum was themed Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. The Administrator met with a number of public and private leaders, including Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Finland Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto, H.E. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, H.E. Queen Mathilde of Belgium, Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz, EBRD President Mr. Sumantra Chakrabarti, Senior Minister Shanmugaratnam of Singapore, WEF leadership and CEOs from Edelman, Crescent Enterprises and SAP among others. This year’s Davos Forum attracted 2,800 participants from more than 118 countries and from large corporates to development organizations and academia.

The WEF Forum is a unique opportunity to discuss development and economics trends while advocating for the private sector to become part of addressing some of the greatest issues of our time. One of the interesting trends, one could observe in Davos this year, is how much the corporate world is now focusing on some of the key environmental risks such as climate change and biodiversity loss that are shaping the economy of tomorrow, which will be a green economy. Leading companies from the financial and technology sectors are looking at a new generation of products and solutions and reshaping their role as we enter in a Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals. These signals are welcomed, particularly at at time when massive investments in sustainability are a precondition for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda noted Mr. Steiner.

This year, Mr Steiner held numerous bilateral meetings and contributed to 18 Public Forum sessions. Topics of these conversations focused on the role of digital technologies to support the shift to a more inclusive economy, how everyone in society can benefit from development gains, how unique public-private partnerships support wildlife conservation, what is required to improve sustainability throughout global value chains and channel increased financing for critical areas in the social, economic and environmental sphere.

Highlights include:

A CNBC talk with CEOs from Edelman, BBDO and PlayMob on how UNDP is exploring new and unexpected alliances that leverage the technology, advertising and communication sectors to tackle biodiversity and climate issues. Through the Lion’s Share (an alliance of advertisers that commit 0.5% of their media spent to support wildlife conservation) and the game Mission 1.5 (a short game to raise awareness of climate change among millions of gamers and ask them to vote for how they see local climate action priorities),UNDP is working with the advertising and gaming industries to explore new platforms that open entirely new avenues for action;

A special session hosted at the House of Switzerland at Davos on ‘Global Fintech for Sustainable Development with Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya, David A. Marcus Head of Calibra (Facebook’s blockchain) and Sherry Madera Refinitiv Global Head of Industry and Government Affairs. The discussion explored the potential of digital technology to support SDG financing and the need for innovative governance to drive global digital financing platforms growth, addressing emerging risks;

The launch of the new Frontier 2030 Platform to advance technologies to achieve the SDGs. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is reshaping industries and value chains, scientific discovery and national economic power at unprecedented speed and scale. The opportunity for new technologies to tackle major global challenges is immense but the development and application of the technologies must be equitable across countries and sectors. Achim Steiner and Simon Segars from ARM have been invited to co-chair this new World Economic Forum platform.

In the context of rising inequality and the need to step up efforts to achieve the SDGs, I welcome a continued partnership with the World Economic Forum and the large network of leaders and influencers it gathers. The Forum represents a highly efficient way to meet many of the key leaders with whom we must interact in order to shape the development outlook. We need unprecedented collaboration across sectors and innovative approach to leapfrog solutions and harness, at best, the potential of the digital economy for the global goals. As UNDP Human Development Report 2019 highlights, the 21st century digital economy can bring major breakthrough for inclusion but reversely could amplify exclusion. This is only one of the dimensions that informed the vital conversations of this week with both public policy makers and leaders from the private sector in which UNDP took an active part added Mr. Steiner.

Source: United Nations Development Programme