Day 5, Friday, 22 January 2016

“The Playground of the Good, the Rich and the Famous”

Davos is my Disneyland. Writing this blog today, I am sitting on a table next to the British PM David Cameron and former Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Sorry to ‘name drop’, but I have walked past, spoken to, and queued with personalities like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Indian FM Arun Jaitley, Israeli PM Netanyahu, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Mahindra CEO Anand Mahindra, and an endless list of global leaders, movers and shakers. This was only the second day! It truly is the most privileged conference meeting in the world, and a selfie taker’s dream (minus the constantly dead batteries).

But amongst all the moments of celebrity-spotting, there is the greater opportunity to speak to and learn from these men and women who make the earth go round. A central theme emerging from this meeting is the need for greater cooperation and understanding between different streams – the need for a ‘global village’. Whether it be the increasingly dangerous migrant crisis of the Middle East that is threatening to overwhelm Europe and is testing its very foundation, the increasing possibility of a Chinese economic collapse, or the rise in extremist terrorism based on religious hatred, the world faces divisions amongst its business, economic and political streams. What we need now is greater inclusion of genders, religions, social strata, and peoples. A staggering statistic to think about was one shared by Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever: if women shared the same inclusive rights as men in terms of employment, healthcare, and social mobility, the global GDP would increase by USD 37 trillion per year.

What is emerging is a global understanding to share data – population data, health data, security data – and work with international partners to address challenges.

Another underlying theme is how central the issue of sustainability and climate change is to the global agenda. With the successful closure of COP21, the global climate change summit held in Paris last month, businesses and governments and talking about the importance of growth based on carbon neutrality and resource sparing.

They say that the ‘Davos badge’ is the great equalizer – heads of state and the business elite become ordinary guests for these four days and are approachable and open to discussion, and, in particular, the views and opinions of the millennial generation are welcomed. I hate to dash, but I’ve just been reminded that I am late for a meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau! How’s that for name dropping?!

Dr. Marcus Ranney is Vice-President at RoundGlass Partners and a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum. He completed his Bachelors of Science and Medical degrees from University College Medical School in London. He has served as a medical officer in the Royal Air Force and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for a shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Find him on Twitter at @docmranney.

Posted by The Indian Economist