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WEF 2020 Recap: Top 5 Learnings from Davos

AvatarDarshita Gillies
February 5, 2020

Fresh off a buzz from a trip to the World Economic Forum’s 50th Anniversary, I am inspired. Davos, a whirlwind of lectures, panels, and activities, networking events all centred on a call to action to a shared responsibility & collaboration across the  ecosystem. And so a who’s who of the world stage came together to focus on stakeholder capitalism and how together we can solve some of the world’s most pressing issues and challenges. Everyone from HRH, Prince Charles, to the youngest pioneer of climate action, Ms. Greta Thunberg, appealed for global change. A “paradigm shift” as Prince Charles demanded “inspiring action at revolutionary levels and pace,” of existing structures and systems affecting our planet.

With this idea in mind, I focused my first time in Davos on attending as many events as possible while focusing on 3 main topics.

Women’s Empowerment.

“Empowering women is the smartest investment we can make.” – Hillary Clinton.

Sessions attended:

  • ‘Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Globally’ 
  • ‘100,000 Women Campaign’ launch with Cheri Blair Foundation
  • ‘Women’s Leadership in SDGs.’  
  • Women Leading the SDG Ambition

Using Technology to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

“Together, we are trying to figure out FinTech innovation and how governments can better serve the needs of their citizens.” – David Shrier

Sessions attended:

  • Metrics Accountability to Reach the SDG’s,
  • Partnerships for the SDG’s: Leveraging Scalable Technologies.
  • UN Global Compact: 20 Years of Business for a Better World at the SDG Media Zone 
  • SDGs in the GCR: how to engage stakeholders?
  • Metrics for Accountability to Reach the SDGs
  • SDGs & Al for Good Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  • The SDG Tent at Davos 2020 an open space where ideas, thought leadership and unhindered dialogue
  • The 4th Industrial Revolution 
  • Deep Tech for a Sustainable Era

Driving Stakeholder Engagement & Collaboration

“When we serve all stakeholders, business is the greatest platform for change…” -Marc Benioff

Sessions attended:

  • ‘The Values Compass: Shifting the Focus from the Individual Self to our Global Family’
  • Rewiring Trust: Responsible Innovation for Inclusion and Growth

As I reflect on these vital conversations there are 5 key themes that emerge guiding to our true north and catalyse shift in systems reorientation:

1. Change Direction: Where we are and where we are heading is unsustainable. We need to shift our default mode to ‘sustainable’.

Tip: Map your value chain and assess long term sustainability factor of core activities and suppliers. If you identify unsustainable aspects, work out an exit plan and scale up aspects that are sustainable.

2. New path Map: We need to outline responsible transition pathways across all sectors and geographies by reimagining industries through the lens of sustainable markets. Adopting common metrics and standards is crucial towards continuous monitoring and assessment.

Tip: As far as possible align your impact measurement and monitoring process with a widely adopted framework. Good resources and guidance available by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Benefit Corporations SDG Action Manager.

3. New path Players: We need to identify game-changers and barriers to transition and reverse unsustainable subsidies and improve incentives for sustainable alternatives.

Tip: If your business is vested in unsustainable activities, figure out an exit plan and engage with market regulators to proactively to transition to a sustainable pathway forward. If your business is inherently sustainable, engage with regulators to device industry incentives and wherever feasible strategically align with larger corporations to get behind as enablers.

4. New path Markets: we need to invest in innovation and research and development and in nature as the true engine of our economy. We also need to connect investments to investables using platforms that can rapidly scale solutions.

Tip: Whether you are an investor, intermediary or investee, talk to the Maanch team.

5. New path Consumers: We need to make the sustainable options the trusted and attainable options for consumers.

Tip: When purchasing any product or service, try to find products that are not just cheap but also products that are not externalising cost to society and environment. 

For the first time in the history of Davos deliberations, driving longer term sustainability has been the core thrust of conversations. The meeting closed on a positive note with a couple major announcements by George Soros, who made a $1 billion commitment to start a global university aimed at fighting authoritarian governments, and by Marc Benioff Founder of Salesforce, who declared a global initiative to restore 1 trillion trees over the next decade aimed at tackling our climate crisis.

Rounding up, my first experience in Davos proved very successful, with lots of opportunities to make meaningful connections with collaborative industry leaders who can fast track business growth. Also an excellent week to  learn and share about the latest developments in all dimensions of business and technology. I am eager to return to Davos along with the rest of Team Maanch for WEF 2021!

Watch out for the next blog on the role of philanthropy in activating multi-stakeholder capitalism through the coming decade. 


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