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54th World Economic Forum Tackles Climate Change, AI

Neve Walker
Staff Writer

The 54th annual World Economic Forum occurred in Davos, Switzerland from January 16-19, providing a forum that aimed to “provide a crucial space to focus on the fundamental principles driving trust, including transparency, consistency, and accountability,” the organizers said and as reported by Sustainable Tech Partner. The goal was also to rebuild trust, generate new ideas, and create partnerships to advance solutions to challenges the world faces.

According to the forum’s agenda, discussion focused on topics from artificial intelligence to climate change and sustainable global growth. Additionally, geopolitical issues were an undercurrent lying throughout the forum’s meetings.

Climate Change
Climate change was a central point of discussion during the forum, with conversations primarily focusing on the investment in decarbonization. While several investment strategies have been developed, such as Capital Expenditure investments in climate solutions and GIC frameworks, these solutions “fall short” of what is needed to have a net zero carbon emissions by the mid-century, according to The World Economic Forum.

Despite their short-term economic instability, research suggests that applying climate-centered solutions to supply chains could add up to $5-11 trillion in additional investment value by 2030. These investments are focused on solutions such as bolstering electricity networks and developing renewable and sustainable vehicles, The World Economic Forum continues.

Artificial Intelligence
The rise in generative artificial intelligence and the impact it will have on the economy was another key theme of this annual forum. In a Staff Discussion Note written by the International Monetary Fund, titled Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work, it is revealed that nearly 40 percent of jobs globally have already been exposed to AI, with the number reaching as high as 60 percent in advanced economies. Workers in white-collar fields, who are primarily college-educated and women, will reap the benefits of exposure to AI, such as strong productivity gains and boosts in growth and wages. However, other workers, such as minimum wage workers or factory workers, may find that AI growth leads to job shortages.

Regulations are now being made around the exploration and governance of AI, especially in developed regions like the European Union. According to Reuters, the EU started debating a new AI Act in early December. This act will regulate issues relating to how governments can use AI in biometric surveillance and address copyright issues.

Sustainable Global Growth
Discussions on sustainable growth primarily focused on development in Latin America. Latin America offers solutions to global growth challenges, such as food insecurity, the green transition, and biodiversity preservation. Both the private and public sectors are playing crucial roles in investments as well as taking advantage of the region’s economic potential, according to The World Economic Forum.

The forum also produced the Future of Growth Report 2024, which introduces a multifaceted framework to assess the quality of economic growth, spanning across 107 countries. 

Geopolitical Issues
The main challenges facing the conference were global geopolitical issues, including in Ukraine and Gaza. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement at the forum that geopolitical divides are preventing us from “coming together around global solutions for global challenges.”

Guterres pressed that many people are losing faith in their governments, institutions, and financial and economic systems, calling for global governance system reforms. Yet, the Secretary-General warned that the forum should not let geopolitical divides prevent action taken for global issues, like climate change or AI.

Image courtesy of Flickr/World Economic Forum

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