Minouche Shafik at Davos - Courtesy of World Economic Forum Website
CAIRO – 30 January 2018: From climate change to counter-terrorism, world leaders had plenty of non-economic messages during the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos.
Climate change, terrorism and the backlash against globalization
As the leader of the fastest growing economy in the world, the home of the Green Revolution, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on the first day of the forum about what he described as the three greatest threats to civilization: climate change, terrorism and the backlash against globalization
Keeping in line with the 2018 Global Risks Report, published just a week before Davos, Modi spoke about environmental concerns that are facing the world now, focusing specifically on those affecting our health and prosperity.
Modi called on governments, business, civil society and youth leaders to cooperate together and work out a plan to save the world from the dreaded trajectory which it is on. He called out countries for failing to work together and to live up to their environmental pledges. “We should all have come out of our limited, narrow confines and we should have demonstrated solidarity,” he said.
“Everyone talks about reducing carbon emissions but there are very few people or countries who back their words [by providing] resources to help developing countries adopt appropriate technology. Very few of them come forward to help.”
Speaking about terrorism, Modi said, “Terrorism is dangerous, but equally dangerous is the artificial distinction created between good and bad terrorists.”
Finally, Modi addressed the recent move against the principles of globalization.
“Many societies and countries are becoming more and more focused on themselves…It feels like the opposite of globalization is happening. The negative impact of this kind of mindset and wrong priorities cannot be considered less dangerous than climate change or terrorism.”
In a rare move from world leaders, Modi confronted the world regarding their recent backlash towards globalization. “Everyone is talking about an interconnected world, but we will have to accept the fact that globalization is slowing losing its lustre,” he argued.
Women, climate change and Trade
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a speech on women, jobs, climate change and trade.
In his first statement, Trudeau reassured the world that international trade is still going strong and that hope for globalization still exists. “Today, I am pleased to announce that Canada and the 10 other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership concluded discussions in Tokyo, Japan, on a new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).”
Trudea also spoke about NAFTA discussions in Montreal, the outcome of which he expects will be a “win-win-win” for Canada, Mexico and the U.S., he additionally revealed that he is in Davos in part to draw attention to Canadian investment opportunities.
“We're working very hard to show our neighbour to the south just how good NAFTA is,” he said.
Trudeau then spoke about gender equality and sexual harassment, as well as the pay gap. “Paying a female employee the same as a male employee doesn’t even begin to touch issues around family planning, promotions, or job security. Women do more part-time work, and more unpaid work, than men. How do we address that?”
The prime minister closed his address on a cautionary note aiming to push the world to move forward together: “The people in this room are immensely privileged – we owe it to society to use this privilege for good. We should ask ourselves – do we want to live in a world where the wealthy hide in their gated enclaves, while those around them struggle? … Or do we want to help create a world grounded in the notion of fairness?”
Save the oceans
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, and Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin, with funding from Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff through the Benioff Ocean Initiative, launched a new global partnership to help save the oceans from threats facing them today, called Friends of Ocean Action partnership.
In an introduction to their partnership, they highlighted threats to the ocean, including threat from plastic disposal, overfishing, global warming, and acidification. As of right now, the ocean has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat humanity has produced and around 30 percent of our CO2 emissions. But our oceans are under threat from plastics, overfishing, global warming, and acidification.
Friends of Ocean Action will draw together 40 of the world’s most committed & influential ocean activists & thought leaders to shape global action for UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (to conserve & sustainably use the oceans, seas & marine resources). https://t.co/V6ir6pPKaB
The partnership will comprise leaders from science, technology, business and non-governmental groups – around 40 of the world’s most committed and influential ocean activists and thought leaders – who will leverage their collective network to scale and accelerate action to meet Sustainable Development Goals related to ocean preservation and water life.