The global pandemic shows that the world urgently needs a new model for global cooperation
Public-private collaboration is required more than ever to ensure this reboot is sustainable and inclusive
The mobilization of 1,200 organizations through the COVID Action Platform shows what can be done to improve lives and livelihoods on a global scale.
FRI, 25 SEPT, 2020-theGBJournal-In the closing session of the World Economic Forum’s fourth Sustainable Development Impact Summit, leaders called for governments, business and civil society to create new kinds of cooperation to tackle COVID-19 and the climate crisis.
To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), diplomats urged leaders to seize the opportunity for a Great Reset, the idea championed by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
The concept of globalization needs to be redefined, said Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s Minister of External Affairs. “If you do an honest stocktaking of this last six or seven months I don’t think, frankly, it would be a good report card on most countries in most regions of the world,” he said, adding that the previous focus on trade, investment, and capital flows has to be broadened.
“Corona anywhere is corona everywhere,” he said. Along with issues such as terrorism and climate change, the pandemic forces us to “revise our sense of what is really globalization,” he said.
Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation of Egypt, echoed these themes, saying of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Everybody has to be part of a collective solution. No country has the silver bullet. All of us had a chance to learn from each other, and despite many of the shortcomings and pitfalls in handling certain things in the pandemic, there have also been a few successes – and these successes have given us confidence that some of the issues that we were worried about are actually what helped us in this very important test,” she said.
Global partnerships working through multilateral frameworks can still be extremely effective, Al-Mashat noted, citing the example of a collaborative initiative between Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture and the World Food Programme, in which 60 villages in the Luxor region have implemented a small-scale circular economy that consolidates land and water use and has shifted from diesel to solar power – a project that will now be scaled up to 500 villages. The stubborn persistence of an investment gap and a digital divide in Egypt and across the Global South, while problematic, can also be viewed as opportunity and as a spur to innovation.
One of the key areas where it was felt more public-private dialogue and cooperation could be useful is between the United States, Europe and China. Susana Malcorra, Dean, IE School of Global and Public Affairs, IE University, Spain, said that competition between the United States and China is not the only rivalry of concern. “There are tensions around the world,” she said. “So, what I would suggest is that we need to think about what I would call the best possible scenario, which is a competitive multilateralism,” she said. “We will not have in the foreseeable future a multilateral system that is based on one member state being in the driver’s seat and essentially having the rest lining up, like it or not.”
Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland, said that while European countries value transatlantic cooperation and share many values – Europe needs to “work with China on the big global issues, to find a global solution”
The summit was designed around the five pillars of the Great Reset: Better Business, Catalysing Cooperation, Harnessing Technology, Liveable Planet and Shared Prosperity. Key outcomes follow:
To help companies “walk the talk” on stakeholder capitalism and demonstrate how businesses generate long-term value, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Bank of America, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and PwC, released a set of environment, social and governance (ESG) metrics and disclosures.
The COVID-19 Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs launched the Action Agenda with 60 organizations to support over 50,000 social entrepreneurs worldwide.
The World Economic Forum partnered with the International Renewable Energy Agency to help accelerate the industry transition to clean energy.
Launched at last year’s summit, UpLink now has 4,000 innovators and entrepreneurs on its platform, who have created over 500 solutions to help us achieve the SDGs. For example, through the UpLink Trillion Trees challenge, and 1t.org, 20 innovative and scalable solutions will be fast tracked to conserve, restore and grow 1 trillion trees by 2030. In addition, the UpLink COVID Innovators Cohort identified an electronic vaccine registry as one of the 15 innovative projects working to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
In one year, the Mission Possible Platform grew to over 200 companies covering seven of the most energy-intense and heavy transport sectors. These leaders reaffirmed their commitments at #SDI20 and called for all to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner.
With the support of Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance, the Consumer Goods Forum and 17 global corporations officially launched the Forest Positive Coalition of Action to tackle deforestation resulting from palm oil, soy, and paper, pulp and fibre-based packaging.
Pilot projects to reduce plastic pollution in Ghana, Indonesia, Viet Nam are on track for global scaling following platforms developed with the Global Plastic Action Partnership.
AARP, Bank of America, Biogen, Eisai, Gates Foundation, Home Instead, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and Otsuka together with investors joined the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative to help fight Alzheimer’s.
Pooling vaccine procurement will accelerate the distribution of a COVID vaccine around the world. COVAX, which is co-led by GAVI and CEPI, is designed to do this. 156 economies, representing nearly two-thirds of the global population, are now committed to this. The Forum’s Manufacturing Alliance is an emerging initiative to help scale this production.
The Champions for Technology and Social Justice Community was launched to help companies collaborate more closely with civil society on technology and social justice issues.