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Reflections on Davos 2018

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The World Economic Forum just concluded in Davos, Switzerland and its theme for the 2018 Conference was “Creating A Shared Future in A Fractured World.”

The theme is reflective of the world today and the concerns for the future. In an era of self-interest punctuated by Brexit, immigration refugee policies and building walls, indeed there are fractures. The dismantling of net neutrality, the restrictions on immigration to developed countries, and refugees pouring into Europe are all factors fueling this time of protectionism. The America First Strategy deepens the already fractured global economy and slows down trade. It no wonder world Leaders came to defend free trade with the intention of frontally dealing with the issue of global trade and its slowdown.

Apart from the issues of immigration and self preservation, the wider global issues of climate change were at the forefront of most leaders minds. Prime Minister Modi spoke to Climate Change, Terrorism and Globalization as threats. The topic of Globalization was dealt with in the context of some “societies and countries more and more focused on themselves.” He also said ” it feels like the opposite is happening.” Certainly, such posturing by some countries are contributing to this fractured world, leading to the problems with climate change and other global economic issues.

In 2017, the United States announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The effect will result in more degradation of the environment, threatening sustainability of many countries as climate conditions continue to deteriorate bringing more powerful storms and other natural disasters. The effect on food production and economic activities are negative on rising food prices and the costs of living with severe societal consequences. Prime Minister Modi identifies these threats and brings it to the forefront.

Countries such as small island states are being decimated and destroyed by rising sea levels, more powerful Category 5 Hurricanes, with flooding and destruction as a result of higher surface temperatures. Climate Change is an existential threat as Leaders chose to ignore its effects on the wider world.

Despite the real opportunities of the Digital Age and the 4th Industrial Revolution, the threats are real, and Davos 2018 appears to acknowledge these negatives but attempted heal the fractures before more irreversible damage occurs.

The Fourth Industrial Age continues to hold the interest of the conference as the focus shifts to the use of digital age technologies as societal benefits. Blockchain takes centre stage as a foundational technology for greater accountability. The applications scope of this technology is wide and varied and can be used in many different ways. It will add great benefit to open societies as transparency gives rise to more efficient and effective delivery of public goods and services.

In less developed nations, its adoption and use as a catalyst for good governance has emerged. Blockchain is scalable and robust, and it will deliver positive change.

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