Davos 2022: Klaus Schwab talks about solving the global crisis of confidence

Davos 2022: Klaus Schwab talks about solving the global crisis of confidence

TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal talks to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, about cooperation, climate hopes and the power of youth. This interview has been edited and condensed.

I recently heard an interview you did with Sundar Pichai (CEO of Alphabet), and I asked him about remote work. He said we are living on borrowed time. How do you think about that phrase, “We’re living on borrowed time,” and the need to be together in person?

I think it can actually be very effective, creating an exchange of information to learn from each other, but it can’t really create trust in human-to-human relationships; You need to meet in person. You should have some moments on the side of the video screen. So, over the last two years,[the World Economic Forum]has made great progress, because we always felt that we should not just focus on events. In fact, today, most of our partners participate in at least one of our initiatives. We have more than 50 initiatives and platforms for cooperation between the public and private sectors. I am very proud to say, since the beginning of the crisis, we have gained more than 200 additional partners who joined us without knowing when they could go to Davos or not. But I think it’s time to bring people together, because we see a decline in trust in the world, and trust is only built through personal relationships. The World Economic Forum, in the broadest sense, is a community of multi-stakeholders, businesses, governments, civil societies and the younger generation, to work together.

What are your takeaways from COP26?

Three comments. The first is that I think the whole discussion around COP26 has created a global awareness of how serious the issue of climate change is, and that focusing on this issue is already a great success.

Secondly, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) did not meet all expectations, but I think the great importance of Glasgow was to show how companies are taking the lead. So there are many initiatives, some of which were created or catalyzed by the World Economic Forum. I mention the potentially important partnership, which brings together more than 400 companies in the field of aluminum, steel, etc. This is something that we’ve been pushing a lot since Biden announced the First Mover Alliance to commit to purchasing ships or aircraft that are powered by green fuel, and by committing to purchasing such innovative products, promoting innovation, because there are also people who might say that 50% is innovation, which we need to We become carbon neutral, it doesn’t exist yet.

The third one I would say is in the area of ​​nature-based solutions. It is a Trillion Trees initiative to plant a trillion trees over the next ten years. (Mark and Lynn Benioff, owners and co-presidents of Time magazine, are among the supporters of the Trillion Trees Initiative.) Or in a broader sense, complete replenishment of agricultural biodiversity is what we need, in addition to carbon removal of various kinds. Industries.

What is the theme of Davos this year? How do you think about the role of climate in Davos?

I’ve had many meetings here, just to get a sense of what our political and business constituents expect, but we need a logo. The motto is “Working together, restoring trust” because we feel the focus should be on working together, making an impact. The credibility of your work together comes only from achieving results.

We were clearly in a global crisis of confidence before the pandemic. Do you think the pandemic may deepen that crisis?

Yes, of course. I mean, even at the national level, I would say that global cooperation has slowed down dramatically. I see two reasons for this. The first is that the pandemic has polarized societies. In a polarized society, making decisions is more difficult because decisions, especially political decisions, usually depend on compromise. The second factor is that governments are largely preoccupied with crisis management. Juggling from day to day, you don’t see any long-term views, except for some Australian states.

Criticism of Davos over the years has been its elitist nature. How do you think about and address the lack of trust between stakeholders who may not be present in Davos?

We have opened the doors to the media. It is more important than ever. Secondly, virtually all sessions are streamed so the audience can participate and our media capabilities. We try to push to engage the audience. The last element is that the Forum has created a very strong youth organisation. I am a firm believer in the need to include the voice of youth because more than 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and they are not integrated. So when we talk about those left behind, I think especially of the younger generation.

How do you see the impact of the pandemic on the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

I think the pandemic has greatly accelerated some of the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. We see it in the field of artificial intelligence, of course; We see it in the medical field, the genetic field. I think one area I’m particularly interested in is quantum computing; We see some progress. The first concern is that because these technologies develop so quickly and usually need to create our own technologies, you also need policies to make sure that the technology serves people and society. And the whole discussion that we have now about social media and so on shows us that we need to regulate this technological advance. The danger of this pandemic is that governments are so busy fighting the pandemic that there is very little energy left to muster to create the necessary boundaries to ensure that new technologies are truly human-centered.

We didn’t talk about inflation.

My concern is very short term. We don’t know some key factors. The first is the amount of new variables that might lead to shutdowns, for example. The second reason is that we don’t know what the consequences might be if the Fed took some brakes. So we have some doubts regarding next year. And now for the long term: How do we maintain our intergenerational responsibility?

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