I attended the first plenary session for the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council meeting this morning, sharing the room with a most distinguished panel of regional and global leaders including the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
GAC participation has grown from yesterday to more than 800 attendees and is claiming to be the largest collective brainstorming session ever held. As an end goal, the Summit is charged with developing new models for the "improving the state of the world".
Speakers at the morning session included the Minister of Economy of the UAE, the Chairman and Undersecretary of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Professor Klaus Schwab.
The scope of WEF obviously extends well beyond issues related to technology and related intellectual property (IP).
Schwab outlined a current focus on development of new models in five arenas:
- A new model to account for fundamental geopolitical change with a greater distribution of power to the crowd. These newcomers need to be accommodated.
- A new model which recognizes that we are now in a true multicultural world which needs to accommodate non-Western values. Schwab predicts that half of the Fortune 500 will originate from emerging countries within a few short years.
- Models need to develop to accommodate resource scarcity, including water and oil. Thoughts here center on economic models.
- Models need to resolve challenges from growing populations coming out of poverty. Schwab challenged attendees to rethink global competitiveness and focus on quality and sustainability of growth. He suggests a holistic approach to economic development and social progress.
- New models to manage the velocity of technology change. Schwab explains his view that technology affects what we are doing as well as who we are. The internet, for example, has now become part of our DNA. Technology access will present fundamental new moral issues.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown followed Schwab with a serious tone. His message was that shared problems that became common problems are now global problems.
Historically, a majority of investment, production and consumption was in the West (EU and US). This is changing quickly. There is a precarious balance between producers and consumers. Per Brown, the center of crisis is now in Europe. The Euro will have to be reformed and European banks will need monetary support. He expressed grave concern over very recent trends toward protectionism.
Brown echoed Schwab that WEF GACs are about “developing the models and will get the world back on track”.
Tough assignment indeed.
(1) Opening plenary of the World Economic Forum's Summit on the Global Agenda 2011 held in Abu Dhabi, 10-11 October 2011. Copyright (cc-by-sa) © World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org/Photo Dana Smillie)
(2) Gordon Brown, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom speaks during the opening plenary of the World Economic Forum's Summit on the Global Agenda 2011 held in Abu Dhabi, 10-11 October 2011. Copyright (cc-by-sa) © World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org/Photo Norbert Schiller)