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Global Experts Call for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Improve Decision-Making

Global Experts Call for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Improve Decision-Making - TRAVELINDEX - WORLD ECONOMIC FORUMDubai, United Arab Emirates, October 19, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / In a world marked by division, bringing people together from different disciplines, sectors and geographies to consider new and different views and find pathways for agreement has never been more essential. More than 450 participants from over 80 countries gathered on 16-18 October in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils to exchange insights and advance solutions to interconnected challenges facing the world.

– A diverse network of more than 450 global experts at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils 2023 highlighted the value of interdisciplinary and multistakeholder solutions to economic, technological, societal and environmental challenges in the face of geopolitical and economic uncertainty.
– The cross-cutting programme in Dubai addressed harnessing artificial intelligence, accelerating the green transition, reviving productivity, addressing antimicrobial resistance and stabilizing trade.
– 30 councils developed proposals for collaboration that can create transformative change in the next three years in each of their topic areas.

From debating models of economic growth to examining the increasing effects of advancing artificial intelligence (AI) to outlining sustainable approaches to climate action and nature protection, the experts from business, government, academia and civil society aligned on shared risks, highlighted new opportunities and committed to continuing constructive, inclusive dialogue and designing proposals for collaboration.

“Future building is fueled by the innate human ability to relentlessly pursue curiosity,” said Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, adding that the meeting was important to answer new questions in areas such as digital transformation, geopolitical and climate changes, economic and social transformations, space, and advanced science and technology.

Many experts also called for having more “difficult conversations” about how to tackle challenging trade-offs, such as between decarbonization and sustainable development, increased productivity and job disruption, and competition and collaboration.

For businesses, what may seem like short-term risks could instead be long-term opportunities, explained Ahmed Galal Ismail, Chief Executive Officer, Majid Al Futtaim Holding. “Investment in sustainability is not a trade-off for business, but is actually a trade-on,” he said. “It’s about having a green mindset and shifting your perspective.”

“The ideas, insights and approaches to problem-solving discussed in the councils and cross-cutting sessions are key to creating and advancing the public-private collaboration that is necessary to address the deeply interconnected issues of today,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Testing ideas, challenging each other and fostering collective creativity as we did here will lay the foundations for new innovations and multistakeholder partnerships to meet the demands of the future.”

With recent geopolitical shocks, economic uncertainty, technological and societal shifts, and increased fragmentation, we have arguably entered “a new era,” said Mirek Dušek, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “In this context, being able to simply come together from around the world, from all walks of life, to jointly grapple with dilemmas regarding our collective future could not be more important,” he said.

The 30 Global Future Councils developed proposals that can create transformative change on specific issue areas within the next three years. These ideas will be embedded into the work of one of the Forum’s 10 Centres’ multiyear agendas, as well as published in an insight report as input ahead of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2024 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, in January.

On building trust for global collaboration

Participants emphasized pathways for trust-building and collaboration in areas including advancing technology, trade and investing, and antimicrobial resistance.

Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Office of the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, spoke on the need to come together to govern AI. “Our view in the UAE is if you’re proactive you tend to be more light-touched than heavy-handed. If you work with the private sector, you ensure that innovation does not get hindered. My rallying cry, everyone, is we need to start. We’re already extremely late.”

“The impact of AI is astronomical, and we haven’t even scratched the surface,” said Khalfan Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Future Foundation. “You need to make sure you create a safe environment, be more inclusive and have the right conversations.”

To support business leaders, the Forum published a white paper on harnessing the AI revolution in industrial operations. Participants also highlighted the potential of technological developments to transform global trade, from increasing traceability and transparency to improving forecasting and inventory control, but they also emphasized the importance of protecting trade relations when geopolitical tensions rise.

“Geopolitics are so intertwined with trade policy that it’s not economic rationale driving decisions,” said Mona Haddad, Global Director, Trade, Investment and Competitiveness, The World Bank. “There is vulnerability to be dependent on a few key countries. Let us carve out sensitive issues and safeguard most of the multilateral trade regime.”

Sally Davies, Master, Trinity College, University of Cambridge, called for urgent global collaboration to address anti-microbial resistance and the spread of “super bugs,” which are among the leading causes of death around the world. It is not only a matter of human health, she stressed, but also has related repercussions for food, environmental and economic security.

Global Future Councils are advancing insights and solutions in this area by:

– Exploring the effects of deglobalization on firms, economies, innovation and societies
– Establishing guiding principles for technology policy
– Facilitating better data exchange within and across counties for cybersecurity
– Assessing the significance of metaverse technologies to industries and economies

On innovation for inclusive growth

Councils and cross-cutting sessions explored what economic growth means in the current context, proposed the kind of growth we should be striving for, and shared ideas on how to create inclusive, sustainable economies.

“We still need growth, but it’s the quality of growth that matters,” said Kumi Kitamori Deputy Director, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “It needs to be green, and it needs to be inclusive.”

Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance, London Business School, argued for defining growth not just in physical capital (measured GDP), but also in human capital (education and skills), natural capital (climate and nature), and financial capital (access and assets).

As global shocks and advancing technology create new opportunities and risks, many participants made the case for investing in education and skills to prepare people for future of work.

“The skills gap is huge,” said Eric Parrado, Chief Economist and General Manager, Research Department, The Inter-American Development Bank. “We have to change how we teach kids, we have to change education, and we have to do training for our workers.”

Masood Ahmed, President, Centre for Global Development, also pointed out the need for focusing on development pathways for emerging and low-income countries to raise living standards. “Today, you see income growth stalling in many countries, the gap between the rich and the poor countries, which was narrowing is now stagnant or widening in some cases, and the combination of global challenges, and the geopolitics that have now made it harder to cooperate to deal with global challenges, poses a big threat to the development progress we’ve seen,” he said.

Global Future Councils are advancing insights and solutions in this area by:

– Defining key concepts including equitable transition and responsible investing
– Investigating potential future shocks and their impact on supply chains
– Creating fresh proposals for policy-makers to support efforts to drive good job creation
– Exploring investments, incentives and partnerships to advance social mobility and close gender gaps

On collective action for climate and nature

Councils also explored topics related to addressing the climate and nature crisis, including clean air, an equitable energy transition and urban mobility.

“We need to think radically differently” about how to urgently protect our planet while also helping the world’s most vulnerable, said Sandor Mulsow, Tenure Professor, Austral University of Chile.

A new report highlights the urgency of the climate crisis facing the Middle East and North African region and provided a blueprint for decarbonization policies that would ensure greater economic diversification, new high-quality jobs and global leadership in sustainable technologies.

“Bold action is required, and it’s required now,” said Henadi Al Saleh, Chair of the Board of Directors, Agility. “From a business perspective, we do see navigating this green pathway beneficial, from revenue contribution, contributing to country targets and at the same time attracting investors.”

Melissa C. Lott, Director, Research and Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University, also mentioned the importance of advancing the energy transition while also addressing sustainable development gaps.

“How do we think about creating a future and having a transition pathway that doesn’t make those gaps wider?” she asked. “How do we think not just about minimizing risks to communities that have faced risks in the past and face risks moving forward but where are opportunities realized? How do we provide accessibility?”

Global Future Councils are advancing insights and solutions in this area by:

– Unlocking and de-risking key investments and action across climate and nature systems
– Creating methods for evaluating air quality performance and trends
– Surfacing practical solutions to accelerate the pace of the energy transition
– Building an evidence-based framework for creating sustainable food and water systems

About the Global Future Councils
The World Economic Forum’s network of Global Future Councils is a multistakeholder, interdisciplinary insights network designed to address critical global challenges through transformative ideas. It consists of 30 councils made up of experts across business, government, academia and civil society, from more than 80 countries, who are nominated for two-year terms.