World Economy

World Leaders Debate Trade, Climate Change, Healthcare

World Leaders Debate Trade, Climate Change, HealthcareWorld Leaders Debate Trade, Climate Change, Healthcare

The World Economic Forum was once a venue of heated exchanges on key political, social, technological and development issues.

SDGs and Climate Change

This topic of paramount importance was addressed Friday in a panel comprising world figures, in which Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general said, “We have delivered the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement or COP21. The only agenda now is to deliver and implement them.” Due to the critical nexus between development and climate change, they are indivisible, he noted.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius elaborated on the commitment and engagement of the private sector during the Paris Climate Agreement negotiations. “Companies are doing a wonderful job. Now we have to be sure that the new initiatives will be taken by civil society.” In his view, the COP21 is a major pillar of security.

Erna Solberg, the prime minister of Norway, pointing to the success of the Tropical Rainforest Alliance 2020 that her country supports, stated that the SDG targets will not be met unless jobs are created. She said the main challenge ahead is the fear that decarbonizing economies will lead to job loss.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, delivered the perspective of private businesses on the critical subject. “The private sector understands the enormous costs and threats involved, and also the enormous opportunities presented in changing our system.”

He pointed to a new initiative launched on Friday in Davos to put business at the center of sustainable development titled ‘The Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development’, which is a multi stakeholder initiative aimed at persuading the private sector to engage in achieving the SDGs.

Jim Yong Kim, president of World Bank, elaborated on reduction of carbon emission, stating that many corporations are already operating with an internal price on carbon. “If you are not prepared to think about low-carbon solutions, you will be at a disadvantage."

Trade and Investment

The WEF and the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development released a sweeping set of proposed reforms to international trade and investment rules and institutions.

It is aimed at better aligning and eventually reintegrating the world’s “spaghetti bowl” of regional free trade and investment agreements, as well as for adapting rules to recent changes in the world economy, such as global value chains, the digital economy, services, climate change and Sustainable Development Goals.

The report also proposes a series of structural improvements to the World Trade Organization, in light of the WTO ministerial meeting in Nairobi in December 2015 wherein governments failed to reach any agreement on a continuation of the Doha Round of trade negotiations that had been deadlocked for over a decade.


Safer World

In light of the events which undermined world security in 2015, speculations on how safe the world would be in 2016 is mixed with fear and hope.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told world leaders that progress to make the world safer is taking place despite the atrocities. He cited the recent nuclear agreement with Iran as an example. “Two years ago, we were on the cusp of confrontation, but thanks to the diplomatic agreement, the region is safer, and the world is safer.”

Kerry reaffirmed that the fight against violent extremism is the challenge of the present generation. "It would be a long struggle, but we are heading in the right direction, with remarkable progress made. Da’esh will be defeated”.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, deputy prime minister of Singapore said that the probability of war in the South China Sea is low, but warned the consequences would be huge.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said all regional states need to realize that “terrorism is a common threat.”

World Health

The challenges facing healthcare and how to deal with HIV and pandemics, was also discussed. Today, more than 37 million people are living with HIV, and mothers continue to pass the virus in startling numbers to their children.

Bono, cofounder of (RED) organization, said that life-saving treatments cost as little as 30 cents a day, yet most living with HIV won’t see medicine in their lifetime. To address this, throughout the past decade, (RED) has raised more than $350 million with the help of 65 companies. Similarly, the recent Ebola epidemic challenged leaders of all nations and sectors and demonstrated the need to prevent and mitigate risks of future outbreaks.

“Dealing with epidemics presents growth, economic and stability issues, and we need national and local initiative,” said Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization.