Davos 2022: Forum 'walked the talk' on climate, jobs and health

World Economic Forum annual meeting concludes with pledge of more action and co-operation on key challenges

President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende speaks on a screen during the 51st annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. EPA
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The World Economic Forum's 51st annual meeting concluded in Davos on Thursday with a pledge to maintain action on climate change, job creation and food security.

“This is walking the talk,” said Borge Brende, the Forum's president.

“For many of us, it feels like a first … first time we came together after Covid-19 … Cop26 in Glasgow and … sadly … the return of war in Europe,” the former Norwegian foreign minister said.

“This week, though, it reminded us why it is so important to meet physically with one another. It creates bonds for a lifetime. And great progress has been made in many areas.”

Mr Brende said the path to net-zero carbon emissions has been helped by 20 additional companies and eight countries that have joined its First Mover coalition.

“We have 54 of the leading companies in the world that have committed using their procurement power to green their supply side,” he said.

“So they're saying they will only buy from suppliers in the future that leave less of a CO2 footprint. This is walking the talk.”

China has also announced a commitment to plant and conserve 70 billion trees by 2031, he said.

And “crucial steps” have also been taken to support global public health.

“The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced its first pledge from the private sector here in Davos,” said Mr Brende.

“They've raised a third of $18 billion needed to reverse setbacks caused by the pandemic.”

The Covid-19 pandemic was a reminder of “how interconnected we all are”, he said.

“At a time of rising inflation, fragile food and energy systems and increased inequality, many participants also working on initiatives to strengthen the economy, supply chains and jobs,” said Mr Brende.

The UN children's agency, the Forum and 16 logistics companies agreed this week to strengthen humanitarian supply transport, and the UAE and Rwanda will join a global alliance to bolster food security, he said.

“The past week … is a reminder to all of us that we are better off in the world where we meet and act together, than in one where everyone is for themselves,” said Mr Brende.

“We should recreate that win-win world, not beggar thy neighbour but prosper thy neighbour.”

Investing in education, health and care jobs could boost economic activity, expanding employment opportunities and generating social mobility, the Forum said.

New research suggests that investing $1 in social jobs would yield a $2.3 return, it added.

The Forum said that it has convened businesses and the public sector to redouble efforts to continue Europe’s clean energy transition as the EU moves to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

“Reducing unwanted strategic dependencies is needed to strengthen the EU’s open strategic autonomy,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

“To make our own energy is the best answer. To do more in offshore wind, in solar power, in hydrogen, in biomethane.”

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the transition to net zero can only succeed if the private sector contributes decisively.

“It is important that business and industry leaders live up to the commitments of the European Green Deal,” she said.

Updated: May 26, 2022, 4:47 PM