Just The Facts: Takeaways from WEF Conference at Davos

The 2020 World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the “foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas” in Davos, Switzerland took place from Jan 21-24. This year’s theme was chosen to be “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” after another year of extreme weather events, costly global warming, and devastating disasters such as the recent fires in Australia showed event organizers that the time for action is now, before extreme climate change becomes irreversible. 

The forum, with 3000 participants, helped governments and international organizations plot their progress towards reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Exchange and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. The forum also encouraged several of the world’s most important bankers and investors who were in attendance to reevaluate their investments in earth-friendly ways. Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old face of climate activism, whose accomplishments include organizing mass demonstrations, speaking at the UN, and being the 2019 Time Person of the Year, spoke at the forum. In her speech, she encouraged a sense of urgency among attendees, saying “Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t. Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.” President Donald Trump, who decided to speak at the forum after skipping last year’s, spoke in a tone contradictory to the spirit of the conference. He labeled climate activists as “radical socialists,” saying that he will not let them “destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty.”  However, Trump, in his only applause line of his speech, did endorse 1t.org, which is the forum’s initiative to conserve, plant, and restore one trillion trees worldwide. Using only nature-based solutions, it is possible to reduce up to one-third of the emissions needed to by 2030. 

In addition to the environment, the forum also covered several other topics, including cybersecurity and international relations, however, the other key takeaway was related to jobs. The forum agreed to launch a global initiative to retrain one billion people by 2030 to provide skills for jobs that they will potentially need in the future. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that 1.1 billion jobs are at risk due to technology in the next ten years. Looking forward, the goals created by this year’s World Economic forum make this new decade crucial to the lifespan of our Earth and the future of society.