Davos Digest 2022, Day Two
And that’s a wrap on Davos, day two! The shadow of two issues loomed large over the agenda – climate change and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Notable appearances included U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
We saw panel discussions on decarbonisation across industries, with a special focus on those perennial problem industries – shipping, aviation, steel, and agriculture, among others. While it’s encouraging to see leaders come together to discuss such pressing matters, we’re still a long way from reaching the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. At least the billionaires took public transport to the summit, right?
Will corporate activism actually fix anything? Will the ‘patriotic millionaires’ get their way and be taxed more to help bridge the growing gap between the rich and poor? Will we see a return to ‘business as usual’? Get all the answers (or some at least) in today’s Davos Digest.
This is the dawning of the age of uncertainty | DAVOS Digest 2022, Day 2
Food for thought: The crisis in Ukraine took centre stage during Ursula von der Leyen’s address to delegates this morning. She said that Russia was weaponizing food supplies by targeting grain warehouses and blocking ships carrying provisions in the Black Sea, warning that this was the beginning of a global food crisis that had the potential to spiral out of control. This comes just days after the Kremlin’s statement to the United Nations on Monday, blaming the West for triggering the food crisis by imposing sanctions on Russia. Von der Leyen hit back, denouncing Russia’s “blackmail” and argued that Europe was currently stepping up its own grain production and working with the World Food Programme to ensure food is available for vulnerable countries at affordable prices.
Coal comes at a cost: “Freedom is more important than free trade” was the powerful message delivered by NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, in his address this morning as he urged delegates to prioritise principles over profit when navigating the pressures of globalisation. The Secretary General noted that Europe’s reliance on Russia for gas, and China for 5G, had created security vulnerabilities, and urged leaders to consider the consequences of their economic decisions.
Looking ahead in politics: While the Biden administration is notably thin on the ground in Davos, this afternoon Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, will take part in a session titled ‘Defining the U.S in a Changing World’. With the current geopolitical circumstances certainly enough to establish that the international order is changing, it will be interesting to see where the US finds itself in the proverbial dictionary.
I love the smell of a corporate announcement in the morning | DAVOS Digest 2022, Day 2
The Great Resignation is only getting greater: Eyes going square from looking at Excel all day? One too many emails to circle back to? According to research published today by PwC you aren’t alone, as 1 in 5 employees expects to change jobs this year according to its ‘Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022’ which encompassed some 52,000 workers from 44 countries. The survey highlighted that what workers want is higher pay, more job fulfilment and to be ‘truly themselves’ at work. AKA: We all want to be happy and well paid: who knew?!
Take that Elon: He may be the richest man in the world but that doesn’t mean Elon Musk and Tesla can rest easy, at least according to rumblings from Volkswagen today. VW CEO, Herbert Diess, today said that the German car maker is aiming to overtake Tesla in electric vehicle production by 2025. “Markets are always about the future,” Diess said when asked why investors valued Tesla at such a premium. It’s another example of a CEO using Davos as an opportunity to make some big headlines – now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road as VW ramps up production.
Get me out of here: It’s raining across the UK today, so what better way to take your mind off everything than to look at the WEF’s brand new ‘Travel and Tourism Development Index’? The report, which tracks the recovery of the travel sector, paints a positive picture, highlighting growing demand in the sector as restrictions have lifted. It’s unclear whether the thousands of corporate jets flying to Davos this year have been factored into the analysis.
Looking ahead in business: There’s a panel tomorrow cheerily titled, ‘Is Globalization Dead?’, that promises to examine the impact of the last few years and ask whether the age of global supply chains and business is over. Check back tomorrow to find out if it’s a clean bill of health, or a post-mortem…
Agility and inclusion – the secrets to improving future health | DAVOS Digest 2022, Day 2
Tackling the digital divide: Over one-third of the world’s population does not have the opportunity to engage in this increasingly digital society. In response, the EDISON Alliance have launched the ‘1 Billion Lives Challenge’. Focused on three areas – finance, healthcare and education – the initiative strives to create commercially viable solutions that can improve 1 billion lives. Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, joined by a superb panel, shared her thoughts on this rapidly evolving landscape and the imperative for digital inclusion to be tackled at the core. The key takeaway: Agility will foster implementation and progress.
Growing up in a pandemic: In response to the pandemic, a panel of speakers, including Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts (D), 6th District, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, gathered to share ideas on helping a generation, scarred by the past few years, cope with its consequences while reaching their full potential.
According to the panellists, the pandemic has led to collective trauma and grief, emotions that are unfolding into a global mental health crisis that should concern every one of us. In response, a multi-disciplinary approach spanning education, politics and medicine, stands out as a major step.
Shoriwa Shaun Benjamin, Founder of It’s Learnable, highlighted the need to introduce people to blended ways of learning while ensuring that those who are underprivileged are not left behind. There needs to be a way forward to include all people in education, even those who do not own devices.
Looking ahead in healthcare: Tomorrow, we will hear if the biotech revolution is packing enough of a punch and how the private sector can put health at the very heart of climate action to help combat the increased risk of infectious and respiratory diseases.
The future is starting to look like a sci-fi movie | DAVOS Digest 2022, Day 2
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation: Nokia CEO, Pekka Lundmark, argued that despite worrying signs of today’s economy, innovation will save the day. Specifically, the industrial metaverse. Lundberg painted a picture of a future where there’s a digital twin of everything that exists in the physical world. In a separate conversation, he announced 6G will be arriving to a smart device near you by 2030 – but it probably won’t be your phone!
The Great Crypto Takeover: Davos was one of the first forums to take digital assets seriously – and this year, crypto tech companies are out in force. With a healthy debate on the future of cryptocurrency, some bankers and regulators are still not seeing crypto as realistic a means of payment, while the likes of MasterCard CEO, Michael Miebach, suggested SWIFT will go out of style in the next five years.
Looking ahead in Tech news: We’ll have even more discussions about data, AI, and the metaverse – straight from the horse’s mouth, Meta and Microsoft.
They’re out of touch, they’re out of… time? | DAVOS Digest 2022, Day 2
As your Digest covered yesterday, the hostile backdrop for business means many of the sector’s leaders have opted to shy away from proceedings altogether for fear of looking unaware of, or unsympathetic to, consumers’ concerns around the cost-of-living. Risk averse CEOs might also have been afraid of the inevitable positions they would have to take on the manifold and grave global issues that exist today, and whether those views will be in sync with those held by their stakeholders.
Wonderful Wojcicki: One genuine business heavyweight who hasn’t shied away from the Davos scrutiny was YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki. Wojcicki spoke with authority, gravitas and – above all – authenticity on some of the biggest issues that face both the company she leads and wider society. She proffered well-argued and confident opinions on subjects as wide-ranging as Roe v Wade, the influence of technology and the war in Ukraine and spoke with a refreshing frankness on the issue of misinformation – particularly within the context of their decision to stay in Russia. In doing so, the tech boss showed that, amid this year’s gloomy corporate backdrop, Davos can still be an opportunity to seize and not a hurdle to negotiate.
Beware the Armchair Commentator, they have mittens: But despite the drastic reduction in champagne receptions and business community’s collective (yet comparative) humility and abstemiousness, criticism from non-attendees has been just as loud as previous years. The poster boy of American socialism, Bernie Sanders, accused the billionaire ‘oligarchs’ at Davos of ‘partying’ while ‘the poor suffer’. Meanwhile, the Fight Inequality Alliance’s Jenny Ricks has declared Davos ‘dead’ saying in an eviscerating column for Al Jazeera that the ‘people’ have ‘no patience left for the virtue signalling of the Davos set’.