The 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting is taking place from 22 to 25 January under the theme The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Health and Environment will be prominent pillars of the programme for the Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos.
Climate Change, Resource Security and Sustainability
Climate change and related impacts such as extreme weather events, food crises and water crises are among the most pressing global economic risks. Failure to act on climate change in a timely manner, and at the scale required, has the potential to be a significant drag on global growth prospects. Many development advances of the 20th century, such as food security, global health or poverty reduction, could be undermined.
This year’s Annual Meeting will have a record number of 23 sessions dedicated to climate change, resources security and sustainability.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, have agreed with the World Economic Forum to jointly advance public-private cooperation action on climate change.
This initiative will continue on to the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit at the UN in New York in September 2014, and beyond. The goal of the collaboration is to mobilize, support and enhance cooperation at a global level during 2014-2015. The initiative will address crucial areas of climate change and deliver quantifiable benefits to society by 2020. Action areas include reducing deforestation, energy efficiency, water security, tackling short-lived climate pollutants, sustainable energy solutions and green investment. Leaders will discuss and develop ideas in Davos on each of these, ready to be presented at the UN Climate Summit in September.
“I look forward to the collaborative efforts and solutions to address the climate challenge that will emerge from the World Economic Forum 2014 in Davos,” said Ban Ki Moon. “Initiatives by the public, private and civil society partners are essential to stimulate low-carbon growth and lead to more resilient economic development. They will help heighten action and ambition during 2014 and at the Climate Summit I am convening in September.”
While environmental change creates new challenges, it also brings tremendous opportunities for businesses and innovation. The current global economy results in massive waste. Adapting to a circular economy has the potential to valorize 100 million tonnes of material waste within five years. This has potential to reap economic benefits of at least US$ 500 million in materials cost savings and 100,000 new jobs across several key sectors of the economy. To this end, the Forum will be launching a major new multi-industry initiative on the circular economy on Friday 24 January, which will be complemented by a televised session with Al Jazeera under the title, “From Waste to Wealth”.
Over 25 sessions throughout the four-day Meeting will highlight the big health challenges of the 21st century. World leaders will discuss the need for redesigning health systems, medical breakthroughs and the broader economic and societal impacts of health. The 2,500 participants from more than 100 countries will tackle questions such as the potential of the health sector as an engine for economic growth and prosperity, a sector-wide perspective on the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle and how to design financially sustainable health systems.
A significant part of the programme will be dedicated to mental health issues. With mental ill-health being the leading cause of absenteeism in many sectors and industries, the cumulative costs on the global economy is estimated at US$16 trillion over the next 20 years. In step with the United Kingdom’s G8 presidency, the Forum will drive the debate on how to face the challenges and stigma surrounding dementia and mental ill health. Citizens are invited to discuss this “last taboo” as part of the Open Forum series.
“The time is right to elevate the conversation on health,” said Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer at the Forum. “For the past few years, the critical state of the financial system absorbed much of Davos participants’ attention. This year, there is a sense that the global economy is out of intensive care and embarking on rehabilitation. As we ask how metaphorically to improve the economy’s health, literally improving the population’s health is a good place to start.”
The inaugural Health Summit will bring together heads of government, chief executives, academia and Nobel laureates to sharpen the awareness for health as a cross-sector challenge in societies. It will address the economic value of health, identifying innovations and new business models, regulatory frameworks and incentives for healthier cities, countries, businesses and individuals. The Meeting will also offer a personal health experience for participants by making the healthy choices – for food, drink and physical activity – the easy choices, and by sharing the latest (wearable) technologies and health empowerment tools.