Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – A Roadmap for a Sustainable Recovery

Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – A Roadmap for a Sustainable Recovery

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Michael Oreskes, Senior Managing Editor,
Associated Press (AP), USA: Good morning, I’m Mike Oreskes of the Associated
Press and welcome to this AP Davos debate. What have learned this week in Davos? Five
days of conversation can perhaps best be summed in one sentence: we are not out of the woods
yet. The recovery is still very fragile in many developed economies and the steps taken
to avert utter disaster could themselves lead to new dangers. To help us chart a path out of these woods
we have five prominent business leaders, all Co-Chairs of the World Economic Forum. They
are: Dr Josef Ackermann of Deutsche Bank; Patricia Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland;
Azim Premji of Wipro; Peter Sands of the Standard Chartered Bank; and Ronald Williams of Aetna. Ladies and gentlemen, from your perspective,
what one idea raised here in Davos this week, what one action do you believe is most urgently
needed in the immediate months ahead? And let me start with you, Mr Williams. Ronald A. Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer, Aetna, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010: Thank you. Well I think the most important
think is really, as we conclude the revamping of the global financial regulatory framework
that we recognize that that’s going to unfold in the cultural context of each country and
unfold in the political environment of each country. And that means that each country
really looks through its own lens at how capitalism has evolved and will unfold and that the political
and regulatory framework is really going to be a combination of the policy perspective
in that country along with the politics and, in some cases, populism. So I think as we
address the regulatory reform in this multi-stakeholder context I think that’s going to be the critical
action that needs to unfold in the next year. Oreskes: Mr Sands? Peter Sands, Group Chief Executive, Standard
Chartered Bank, United Kingdom; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010: First, a quick observation: although the world’s
in a better place than it was 12 months ago, I actually think the discussions here in Davos
have been more difficult this year. In a crisis it’s easier to get consensus, it’s easier
to be clear on the priorities. When you’re a little bit away from the edge of the precipice
more divergent interests, more tradeoffs appear. The big observation I have is that a lot of
what we do in terms of policy has to be informed right now by its impact on job creation. I
think job creation is going to be a huge problem in both the developed and developing world
and I’m not sure in everything we’re doing we’ve quite factored through that imperative
as much as we should. Oreskes: Mr Premji? Azim H. Premji, Chairman, Wipro, India; Co-Chair
of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010: Just taking off from what Peter said, I think
the key issue really is employment and even with some amount of recovery taking place
in industrial production I think the key issue virtually every country is facing is much
higher levels of unemployment. And a consequence of that is protectionism, which we are seeing
across the world. A subject matter which I think was not discussed
in this Economic Forum which I think is very, very important to address as a result of this
is how does one take a more global approach to movements of services and people, as a
consequence of movements of services? Today, the world just is able to adjust to movements
of products and goods through tariffs, through incentives for manufacture in the countries
in which they get manufactured, but there’s a lot of arbitrariness across countries vis-à-vis
how do you treat movements of people who generate services and you get all kinds of knee-jerk
reactions on the way visas are treated. It’s very important that, at least as the World
Economic Forum, we address this issue in terms of certain constructive policies on how visas
are treated on people movement, because it’s going to become and is becoming a more and
more important issue not to keep having knee-jerk issues. And I think it has to be sensitive
to the fact that countries have a right to encourage domestic employment even with movements
of people. So some form of reasonable linkages in terms of visas and local employment is
going to be inevitable. It’s important that we have a constructive attitude towards it. Oreskes: Patricia Woertz? Patricia A. Woertz, Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), USA; Co-Chair of the Governors Meeting
for Consumer Industries 2010; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010: Well, maybe to build on my colleagues’ thoughts
about Davos this week is of course it’s a place to have these multi-stakeholder, multidimensional,
holistic discussions and yet you sometimes have a short-term issue, a crisis and short-term
issues to think about as well as the long-term challenges of the world and of business. And
my observation this year was that one subject that was receiving a lot more attention on
both those horizons was the subject of agriculture and it can be part of this effort in terms
of recovery, investment in agriculture. Agriculture’s kind of been left behind in some of the other
recoveries, so a lot more discussion about that – innovation, investment, how
we’re going to feed the billions of people in the world in the future. And that the opportunity
for agriculture in the long term to provide economic development and rise folks out of
poverty was another big – big mention this week. Oreskes: Dr Ackermann? Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Management
Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank, Germany; Member of the Foundation Board
of the World Economic Forum; Chair of the Governors Meeting for Financial Services 2010;
Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010: Well, I think, after having managed quite
successfully the worst of the financial and economic crisis, we now are focusing on the
transforming trends and one of the transforming trends is clearly a new relationship between
government and business. The second one I would say is a big risk that countries start
refragmenting the global economy and focusing on national interests again. And the third
is, of course, some sort of a geopolitical situation that we have a rebalancing in the
sense that a superpower-dominated global economy is now moving into a multi-polar world and
what that means in terms of uncertainties and volatilities is a big issue. And at the
end I very much felt during these few days that we are actually in some sort of dichotomy
between liberty on one side and, well, let’s say security measures – so people,
you know, as we bankers say, if you avoid all the risks you soon have no risks to avoid,
and somehow we are caught in between should we take more risk, be creative, foster growth
or should we really be focusing on security. Oreskes: Well I think that brings us very
naturally, actually, to one of the challenges that Professor Schwab laid before us in his
opening talk in which he said that it was important, as a result of this crisis, to
rethink our values. And that theme, that subject really ran through the whole conference this
week and since it is Sunday morning it seems like a good moment to chat a little bit about
that. President Lula sent a message from Brazil deriding the poor ethics of the financial
system and President Sarkozy gave a kind of stem winder of a speech in which he talked
about the importance of re-injecting a moral dimension to capitalism in order to save capitalism
which, interestingly, he said it was important to save capitalism, that is. So I wonder if
I could get you each to address for a minute whether this is a real idea, changing our
values and attitudes, or actually kind of a pipedream and that we’re really –
even under these crisis conditions we’re really not able to change. And I’d like to start,
not because you’re a banker, Dr Ackermann, but because you’re next to me I’ll start with
you. Ackermann: Well, for me it’s very obvious.
If you have such a loss of trust in societies you cannot just respond technically; you have
to respond morally and ethically. And that’s why – I mean we spent a lot of time
during this week also in the bankers’ community to talk about values in our industry and it
is clear we have to rebalance the way we are doing business in a way that we see primarily
our duty as supporting the real economy and not only the real economy, people at large.
And I think we spent a lot of time even talking about proactively engaging into changing the
compensation attitudes in our business, of trying to support the real economy in different
ways. And I think that will lead to a completely different mindset in our industry and that
is necessary. It’s expected from industrial leaders, it’s expected from politicians, but
also I think the young generation even among bankers are expecting this kind of moral answers
from us. Oreskes: Patricia Woertz? Woertz: Well I see some extraordinary values
already displayed in parts of business and parts of capitalism, but I think this moment
is one to spend some time on the transparency around that. Sometimes many of us look inward
to our organizations. We talk about getting the right results the right way and that right
way is, perhaps, an internal moral compass that many of us lead by, but it needs to be
a more external compass as well. So sharing that much more broadly and holistically with
the other measures with which we certainly externally communicate our businesses. Oreskes: Mr Premji? Premji: You know, I think one area which is
not completely allied to this is the area of low-carbon economy and the area of green.
I think, from the point of view of government, I think the most effective approach could
be that government decides that in terms of public policy and government policy they put
a couple of big bets instead of being incremental on half a dozen different things. And too
many governments in this are having approaches where they are really spreading themselves
too thin, like butter, instead of saying ‘okay, I’m going to bet on solar’ or ‘I’m going to
bet on wind’ or ‘I’m going to bet on X or Y or Z’ and putting a really big national
bet behind it sustained over a 10-year period. Oreskes: Mr Sands? Sands: Well, building on what Jo said, I think
banks and bankers, many of them did lose sight of their sort of broader purpose, their role
in the economy and broader society and I think the crisis has been a wake up certainly to
our industry about the importance of values in the way we run our businesses. But if I
can make another comment, I’d say that we shouldn’t kid ourselves that having values
more embedded in the way we run businesses and make decisions means that we won’t have
disagreements. There are still very difficult trade-offs that have to be made. We all face
trade-offs between – if you are financing a project, it might have environmental damaging
consequences; it might, on the other hand, create jobs and wealth. Different people will
put different weights on those things. I don’t think it’s necessarily that everybody will
agree, just because one’s talking about values. The important thing is to have those debates
openly, to consider the interests of different stakeholders, and not to dodge them. Oreskes: Mr Williams? Williams: I think it’s extremely important
for organizations to be values based, and to be certain that they articulate those values.
I think it’s not part of the financial community, but speaking for other businesses that I’m
involved with, that the opportunity is to look at those values, and make certain they
are contemporary in the context of today’s challenges, as opposed to the challenges we
faced a number of years ago. I think I would encourage everyone to take a look at those
values and make certain that they are contemporary in the context of the challenges that the
broader global community is facing. Oreskes: I pick up on this thought of trade-offs,
because another word for trade-offs is politics. One of the themes that was hit a lot this
week in Davos was the tremendous public anger in many countries, particularly in developed
countries, as a result of this crisis. It came up in a variety of ways. One of the thoughts
was what we were really seeing was a reconnection of politics to the global discussion, for
better or worse. I am wondering how you as business leaders see this change in your world,
change in your job? You suggested, Mr Sands, that the bankers needed really to be more
cognizant of the public view of things in doing their work, and I wonder maybe if I
could pick up with you on that? Sands: I think it’s a very live issue in the
world of financial services, and banking in particular. If you think about it, the objectives
of all the things that are being done around the reform of financial regulation have two
objectives. One objective is to make the banking system safer; we all want that. The other
objective is to ensure we have a banking system that can support the real economy, job creation,
prosperity and so on. We all want that. As it happens, though, there are some trade-offs.
Some things that make the system safer might make it more expensive to provide credit or
limit the capacity of banks to provide credit. Those trade-offs I think are ones that are
in a sense not just for bankers or regulatory technocrats, or so on. These are ultimately
big decisions for society, the political world. I think it’s right that they should be debated
among a wide number of stakeholders, because it’s a big decision. The stakes are pretty
high. That’s just one example that affects the financial-services industry. There will
be equivalent sorts of trade-offs in other sectors. Oreskes: President Sarkozy framed it as the
return of the citizen, and he basically said that if we don’t bring citizens back into
these conversations, we are going to lose the whole ball of wax. Dr Ackermann? Ackermann: Well, you know, I would start even
somewhat earlier in the analysis of the causes of the crisis. It’s a little bit too simple
to put all the blame on bankers and banks. That’s a very important part of the problem,
but in addition I think there have been political failures, there have been market inefficiencies,
and of course there have been bank failures. I think it’s very important that we analyse
that in a way that we bring all the stakeholders back into the analysis, but also then in finding
solutions. Because if we have the wrong analysis and the wrong questions, we may get the right
answer but to the wrong questions. In that sense, I would very much encourage –
and I think Davos is a fantastic platform to do that. I must say, we have very, very
constructive dialogues with politicians, and with regulators, and this society at large
about many of these issues. But we have to have the support of what we are doing. I always
say, in terms of shareholder value or stakeholder value, at the end it is an interdependent
system. If you lose the support of the society, you are not going to realize your corporate
objectives in the long run. That is why we need the social support, and you cannot have
the social support without having them involved in finding the right answers. Oreskes: Mr Williams, are business people
well enough prepared and clear-headed enough in the difference between running a business
and running a political conversation to make the transition? Williams: I think generally – I speak
for myself – that the regulatory and legislative framework is really a culmination
of the policy debate, where I think businesses are well equipped. Then it also is a result
of the political area. I think to some degree, businesses operate with a very narrow degree
of freedom in terms of the regulatory filings we do, the way we work with, in the US, the
SEC, etc. In the political framework there’s a much broader discourse. I think in a lot
of ways, the business community is better equipped for the policy debate than the political,
particularly some of these issues have more populism elements, and I think appropriately
so from the point of view of many of the stakeholders. Oreskes: Let me turn to one of the biggest
policy and political questions facing the world, and the subject that I think produced
one of the most dramatic moments here at Davos, and that’s the question of global poverty.
There was an exceptional moment where Bill Gates got up at one of the panel discussions,
took a microphone in hand, and demanded of the panellists: in a global economy, where
so many countries right now have driven themselves deeply into debt simply solving the short-term
issues of this crisis, where will they find the resources to continue to support development
around the world? As Mr Gates put it, and I can’t ask the question any better, so I’ll
just ask it this way: where will the pressure come to continue support for development around
the world? Let me start with you, Patricia Woertz. Woertz: Your question about where will the
pressure come from, and you were commenting that it was a Bill Gates moment, I also participated
on a panel with Bill, as we talked about how will we continue to feed the world, and of
course that’s a deeper question around the opportunity for development. I think Bill
summarized one of his big goals, when we talking about big goals at the end of that, is to
be able to double the income of the small farm-holder, the farmer. Again, kind of back
to the agriculture message. The opportunity for both investment and partnership –
public-private partnership – so the point about funding coming from the private
sector, coming from the public sector. Civil society, to be able to invest in the areas
that are going to provide the future for not only feeding themselves, but helping to get
to markets for the rest of the world, is part of the answer I think in the short term, that
will help solve this problem for the longer term. Oreskes: Mr Premji, is part of the answer
also that the previously developing world will now become major benefactors –
India, China, Brazil, a few other countries? Premji: I think on two subjects, one is vis-à-vis
will the economic crisis of the developed world reduce amounts that they will be able
to give to the developing world in terms of ex gratia. I think increasingly the developing
world is trying to get itself more self-sufficient to be able to manage its own problems, and
not expect ex gratia to come its way, and expect legitimacies to come its way. I think
the interesting thing is what the developed nations have realized is that if they want
growth in terms of the economies driven by industrial growth, they have to be addressing
emerging worlds more aggressively, because that is where the growth is. The difference
between the growth rates of the emerging world and the emerged world, or the developed world,
is going to increasingly become larger, with the result that access of investment into
the emerging world is going to become increasingly more compulsive, by self-interest rather than
anything else, which is good for the emerging world, and we are finding that in India. China
is finding that. I think some African nations are beginning to find that, on a very aggressive
basis. Oreskes: Mr Sands? Sands: I think there is reason for a degree
of concern here, because I think it is a very good question as to where the pressure is
going to come from. I think protecting aid budgets is important, but will be very difficult
in the richer western countries, mostly because they are not as rich as they thought they
were, and most of them have very big fiscal deficits. Even more important, because the
real key to development, building on that point, is economic development – trade
and investment. I think my concern is that unemployment – the pressures in domestic
economies and domestic politics will lead to pressures towards protectionism in one
form or another if we are not very careful. Open trade, open financial markets around
the world are absolutely critical to achieving development, and to lifting the many, many
people who are still in dire poverty out of that poverty. That is why I think a lot of
focus has to be around jobs and job creation and addressing the unemployment issues –
because if we don’t, we’ll slide into things that are damaging to everybody in the world
economy. Oreskes: Mr Williams? Williams: Yes, I would perhaps add a slightly
different dimension, which is, I think, clearly job creation is critical, but one of the enablers
of work is good health. And making certain that we begin to focus in a more meaningful
way – and I think the World Economic Forum has really done some excellent work
and I think positioned very well to help support the development of programmes that focus on
chronic diseases, both infectious diseases and in the increasing prevalence we have of
non-communicable diseases, which are really the diseases of modern living. And as we shift
to urbanization what we’re going to see is countries that have both the problems of infectious
diseases and poverty, and the problems of modern living as people have diets that are
much more high calorie and just get much less physical activity. So I think when you look
at global risk I think health is one of the important areas and good health, in fact,
turns out to be a precursor to employment, assuming the jobs are there and they can continue
the growth and avoid the kind of protectionism that’s been talked about. Oreskes: Well, I want to come back to jobs
and the economy, but let me take it in the order that you’ve just framed it, Mr Williams,
and come to Patricia Woertz. On the subject of health Bill Gates used the Davos forum
this week to announce a $10 billion commitment to vaccines around the world in developing
countries. That’s obviously good news, but is it also a signal that we’re going to become
increasingly dependent on private philanthropy for the public health of the world? Woertz: Well, first of all, I think the world’s
appreciative of what Bill and Melinda Gates announced this week on their 10th anniversary.
I think the private sector will continue to have a very prominent role, perhaps not in
the health of the world, but in continuing to put those spots of continued need to jump-start.
You know, one of the things that we worked with the Gates Foundation at ADM on self-promoting
and then sustaining economic development that allows both the health, the economics for
those in need; for example, in West Africa in the case of some Cocoa Foundation work
we’re doing with them. So it’s to kick-start what should be self-sustaining after a period
of time. Oreskes: How does all of this play into the
Millennium Goals, which were a commitment by governments to support developing countries? Woertz: I don’t know. Sands: I think business can make a contribution
to all of the Millennium Goals, but I think the important point I would add is: the money
is great, but it’s not just about money. I think we can also leverage the capabilities
and infrastructure of businesses in pursuit of all those goals. If I can just pick up
on the health area, HIV/AIDS remains a huge problem; massive advances in some of the therapies
for people who have been infected, but we’re still wrestling with the problem of stopping
people getting infected. And that’s one thing that I’ve been encouraged through the work
that the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – they’ve
been doing a lot of work about sharing best practices between businesses about how you
can help educate your customers and your employees on simple ways of avoiding HIV infection.
And that’s just an example of how businesses can get involved in achieving the aims of
the Millennium Development Goals without just it being a matter of writing cheques. Williams: I think in many of these instances
what we’re going to see are really public-private partnerships that are going to require collaboration
in non-traditional ways, where business uses its access to its workforce, its pulpit in
the context of being able to communicate with that workforce, and use its resources to help
government be able to accomplish important strategic objectives, along with other non-governmental
organizations. Woertz: I might add a comment to pick up on
what Ron said. You know, some of the most retentive practices a company can have is
allowing the employees to work on progress like this and processes like this that allow
the company to be part of the solution, but our volunteerism goes skyrocketing when you
allow for a lot of that to be part of the process. Ackermann: First of all, I think it’s very
important that we increase the understanding and start a little bit more that people know
what’s really happening. I was, you know, in several meetings this week where we talked
not only about poverty, but also about unemployment. And unemployment, especially among the young
people, is dramatic. If you have countries, even here in Europe, with an unemployment
rate of more than 40%, in the Middle East of over 50%, I think if people understand
what that could mean in terms of social stability, in terms of creating a framework to do business
in the future, then I think the willingness to help and to cooperate will certainly be
increased very radically. Then, of course, companies can do a lot and
I think to just give money is not enough. We have to have in the self-interest of people
in these countries that they can create their own wealth, their own prosperity, that they
are interested and motivated to have the means to do that. And I think the numbers in many
countries are so big that neither governments can do it alone nor corporations can do it
alone, so public-private partnership is certainly one of the very important challenges going
forward. And I think one of these transforming trends, where we have seen that there is a
rebalancing between private sector and public sector may also create some new ideas in helping
to overcome these challenges in many emerging countries. Oreskes: Mr Premji, Wipro certainly created
thousands of jobs. Tell us a little bit about creating jobs. Premji: Let me just take off from something
that which we were discussing on this issue of public-private partnerships. I think it’s
going to get more and more prevalent, and I think both sides are realizing it. Governments
are realizing and the private social workers or the private industrialists or the private
businesses who are doing good social work are realizing. I think there’s a mutual gain
in it. One is that people who are doing social work or industries who are doing social work
realize that, if they want to scale, they have to work quicker because that’s where
the scale is rarely there. And the governments are realizing that leadership
in private enterprises brings ability to scale; it brings ability to institutionalize the
changes of which you make, which government is very often not able to do – the
changes are made and they just flip back. Whereas in businesses our success depends
on institutionalizing the change so it is self-sustaining. Third is the drive for profit which businesses
have built up over a period of time. It puts a very high degree of measurability in terms
of what you do; again, which government lacks, and they’re realizing that – that if
they have a partner with a private enterprise they get that measurability into what they
want to achieve. Oreskes: So let’s bring this then into the
core economic question right now. Larry Summers came here to Davos and used it as a moment
to describe the American economy as in ‘a statistical recovery and a human recession,’
which is probably a description that could apply to a number of economies right now and
goes right to the heart of what you’ve been saying about jobs. And that’s happening as
governments around the world pour trillions of dollars into stimulus money, so they’re
running up this enormous debt and yet everybody’s a little reluctant to pull the stimulus back.
How do we get ourselves out of this, since the stimulus doesn’t seem to be creating the
jobs that you’re all saying we need? Let me press you to try to be specific, to try to
put up some real answers here. Maybe I’ll start with Dr Ackermann. Ackermann: Well, first of all, we have to
recognize this is the first crisis in a globalized world. And this will require new answers.
It has not only to do with the financial sector itself; it has to do with some of the global
imbalances. And we have to work on finding solutions to that. And this will create a
lot of uncertainties and a lot of triggers. Secondly, I think it’s also fair to say that
the exit strategies have to be timed in a very prudent way. We are still dependent on
the stimuli packages. Thirdly, we have to understand that we need
more innovation and that we need more job creation in certain parts of the world which
is not happening yet, including the services sector. And in order to support all of that
– of course I have to say this as a banker – but we need a very strong
financial sector and a financial sector which is global, which can support the real economy
and the real investments in the real economy on a global scale. And the more we refragment,
the more we are focusing on pure national interests and having in parallel a global
trading system, a global production system, but a somewhat national banking system, would
be a recipe for failure. Oreskes: Ms Woertz? Woertz: I would add to a couple of Jo’s ideas
two specific ones, and you asked the question related to mostly developed countries who
have stimulus package and had the job losses, that there is the aspect of job retention
– first of all retaining some jobs as well as creating some new ones. In the
retention area I think it’s education, it’s training, it’s finding innovative ways and
innovation to recreate some of the current processes that exist today, as well as to
create new jobs and new markets. Green jobs, or green tech, is one of the areas
that has received at least this week a lot of discussion, but when you think of some
specifics there – for example, creating things out of waste. You know, energy from
waste as an example, these are the kinds of jobs and ideas and innovation that really
just doesn’t move jobs around from one region to another but actually creates new jobs,
new growth and new opportunities. Ackermann: May I just add one point, which
I forgot to mention? I think new ventures are absolutely crucial and we have to create
a business-friendly environment. And I think in this dichotomy I mentioned before between
security and liberty, we have to put more emphasis on liberty again, encourage people
to take risk, encourage people to create new companies, encourage people to then recruit
people and to create jobs. And I think that is something which is a little bit missing
right now, because we are too much focusing on the aftermath of the economic crisis and
too much on, ‘How can we be more resilient? How can we absorb the shocks in the future?
What can we do to be stable forever?’ Market economy is not stable in itself. It is ups
and downs. It’s creative destruction from time to time. We need that to create new things
and we are on the brink of an era where we have to start doing new things and things
differently. Sands: Building on Jo’s point, I think absolutely
critical is we have to strict the balance right – the right balance between the
two objectives I talked about earlier, between making a safer banking system and a financial
system that can support the sort of dynamism and growth and job creation. And get it wrong
one way and we risk a new crisis; get it wrong the other way and we’ll take the steam out
of the recovery and reduce the chances of creating new jobs. The other point I’d stress
is it’s really important that we hear the voices of the world as a whole in the debate
about what we’re doing and not just the voices from the West or from the countries that were
most impacted by the financial crisis. There is a bit of a risk, if I think as somebody
who runs a business mainly in Asia, that Asia ends up in the financial sector having to
take a medicine for a disease it didn’t have, because the prescriptions are mainly coming
out of the West. And that’s just a specific example, but more generally I think it’s really
important that we draw in that broader set of voices as we think about what needs to
be done. Oreskes: And how does that happen? How do
we do that? Sands: Well, I think Davos is actually one.
It’s not the perfect solution and I don’t think there is a single solution, but Davos
is helpful because it draws together many different types of perspectives and stakeholders,
but I also think the world has taken a major step forward in the shift from having the
G8 to the G20 as the principal global policy-making forum for the world economy. And that, I think,
is a great step forward. Now, there’s still many more countries out there that aren’t
in the G20 and we need to make sure that their interests, views are heard and listened to.
But that shift from G8 to G20 is very positive. Oreskes: Mr Premji? Premji: You know, one of the key priorities,
which is, you know, quite obvious is job creation, employment creation, and I don’t think we
should over-expect employment creation from large industries. Even if you see the profile
of employment across countries, it’s the small scale, medium-scale sector and the self-employed
sector, which really generate the jobs and I think there has to be a complete shift in
focus that: how do you stimulate these sectors to be able to create large scale jobs with
just trying to stimulate the large industrial sector to create jobs? And that includes very,
very heavy skill training in education at a young level that people are encouraged to
set up industries, are trained to set up small industries, and are trained to become self-employed. Oreskes: Other key steps on jobs? Woertz: I wanted to maybe debate that just
a bit. Not that there’s shouldn’t be focus on small and medium sized, but I think it’s
for all to create jobs. There’s only a certain thing big can do. There’s, certainly, there’s
only certain things that big and large companies can do and some of that job creation spreads
to the small and medium sized as it goes down to contractors, as it goes to the service
industries. So I think there’s a role for all to play in the job creation and in the
stimulus opportunities. Oreskes: Mr Williams? Williams: Yes, just a few points. One is that
job creation is really going to be central and that means that we have to focus on developing
the talent for the jobs we’re going to need in the future as opposed to the historical
jobs. There’s an awful lot of reskilling that has to apply for people who have skills that
just aren’t in demand. On the whole question of small businesses
versus large businesses, I’m going to echo Pat’s comments that I think there’s an underestimation
that a lot of small businesses work for large businesses. And when you look at the ecosystem
that a large employer has, there’s an enormous ecosystem that gets created around those large
businesses. Now, the real innovation’s in large businesses of the future are the small
businesses, so I think it is clearly an ‘and’ and not an ‘or’ as we think about that issue. The third point I would make is really one
of the things I think can help both job creation and economic growth is what I would call ‘sector
clarity’ – that we have a great deal of uncertainty sector by sector where it’s
not necessarily clear what the rules will be. And the one thing businesses like is some
degree of predictability and certainty around the regulatory, legislative and tax framework.
It should be whatever the multi stakeholder community believes it should be, but understanding
what that is so that investment decisions can be made, I think, would be extremely to
accelerating the recovery in job creation. Oreskes: Mr Premji, saying a little more about
jobs in the developing world, maybe ‘reskilling’ isn’t quite the word to apply in all of your
circumstances, but there is this huge issue of bringing people up to the level that’s
needed. Premji: Yes and no. You know, in some sectors
it’s happening very successfully, for instance in the service sector in high-tech jobs. It’s
happening very successfully. And I think a lot of attention is also getting given by
recruiters of the skill services to upgrading their inputs into the institutes, whether
they be colleges, whether they be training institutes, to upgrade the quality of the
students which are coming out, because there’s a very clear self-interest, vested interest
into that. I think what is not getting adequately created is for employability of people who
don’t go beyond 10th standard, for whatever motivations. And you know, the more you encourage
people to study up to 10th standard, the more they become unemployable for farm labour,
the more they become unemployable for the real low end of unskilled labour –
not that those unskilled labour jobs are really going to be there. So how do you create jobs
for them, because they are not in a category which is there for the skilled professional
work people? Either they don’t have the motivation, they don’t have the background, or they just
don’t have the momentum in terms of competition to qualify for that progression. And I think
that is an extremely serious problem and the only solution to that is self-employment,
small-scale industries, low-tech jobs of small-scale industries. And the concern there is that
openness of the economy, particularly to countries like China, eat up those jobs the fastest
because the small scale and the medium scale industry has not really seasoned itself to
meet international competition, whereas the large scale industry, particularly over the
last five/seven years in India, has seasoned itself to meet international competition.
So it is much stronger in a position to fight back, whereas the small scale and medium-scale
industry is not in a position to fight back, because they’ve always been protected. Ackermann: I would like to come back to a
point Ron made, because I think it’s a very important one – sector clarity. Talking
about the financial sector, there is a temptation now in many countries to get money back from
the financial sector and we are entering a phase where different systems are competing
with each other. I think that’s, in the long run, very counter-productive because, if we
invest in other countries, we don’t want to add complexity and we don’t want to have additional
costs. So in order to create other jobs in other parts of the world, it’s very important
that we have a level playing field and that’s why I think it’s so important that, in the
G20, they coordinate measures on a global scale. Oreskes: I’m hearing a very clear statement
of the problem, but I’m still not completely sure what it’s going to take to teach, train,
reskill, whatever the words are. What are the specific actions we’re going to need to
take, both in developed and developing countries, to teach people what they need to know to
actually hold jobs in the years ahead? Are there some specific proposals? Premji: I think Germany, in terms of a country
which stands out in skill training in the early years of schooling, is a tremendous
example. I think what India needs is that, in addition to a normal curricula, from say
standard 8 onwards, how do you put in a skill curricula as part of an approved curricula
in terms of training the young boys and girls to set up different careers? It can be simple
careers like motor mechanics, computer mechanics, computer service people, people who set up
kiosks for telecommunications, people who set up little stalls, retail shops. You know,
today, we have 24 million retail shops in India and it is going to sustain the Wal-Mart
competition because they open at 07.00 in the morning and they close at 21.00 in the
night. How do you compete with that? And the logistics management, please don’t
underestimate how competent they are in logistics management also. How do you train people to
do more of that and build them with skills, because some of the advantages which many
emerging countries have is a very commercial mindset of people, and they’re able take to
opportunities to make money very quickly. It’s very natural to them; they see it around
them, they see it across families, they see it in their communities, they see it in their
villages, and it’s not too difficult to do that. Oreskes: Peter Sands. Sands: Building on Azim’s point, I actually
think anybody who’s been in the sessions here at Davos will know that there are literally
thousands of good ideas and good initiatives going on about things like, ‘How do we prepare
people for the workplace?’ ‘How do we stimulate job creation in different economies?’ I think
we should actually resist the temptation to say there’s one big idea, one silver bullet,
because most of the things we’re wrestling with, and this is as true as many of the environmental
issues and financial-sector issues as it is of job creation, these are immensely complicated
problems with many different stakeholder interests and we should acknowledge they’re quite difficult
to deal with, and so having a diversity of ideas and initiatives and experimentation
is, I think, a good thing and we shouldn’t seek to simplify it too much to, sort of,
one big idea or something like that. I also think one of the things all of us need
to have is a sort of degree of humility about what we actually know and how confident we
can be that the ideas we’re going to put in place are going to have the consequences that
we thought they were going to have. If we’ve learnt anything from the crisis it’s that
we don’t always know what we’re doing and that we can’t predict the future, and so I
think – this is not a recipe for inaction, by no means, we should be trying and doing
all sorts of things to address these issues, but we should do it learning as we go and
being willing to accept that some of the things we try aren’t going to work and we’ll have
to change tack along the way, and I think that sense of action as being a journey in
which you are constantly recalibrating and learning again is, I think, a very important
sort of change, because I think we’ve, certainly in financial services but I don’t think it’s
solely in financial services, the world was over-confident about what it knew about the
way things worked. Oreskes: I’m going to come to Patricia Woertz
in a minute, but I can’t resist asking you, do you think the world, the business world,
the banking world, the financial community, has in fact learned this humility? There’s
certainly some who fear that they’re starting back on their old ways already. Sands: No, I think it has. I think if you
talk to most banking leaders, and Jo can comment, I think most people would acknowledge that
we got a lot of things wrong, the regulatory community got a lot of things wrong, the policy-makers
running the macro-economic system of the world got a lot of things wrong. That has to change.
We’ve made a lot of changes already, there are going to be more changes, but we’ve got
to make them in the knowledge that we will get things wrong again, right? That we don’t
understand everything perfectly now, but I actually think that realization, that you
can’t have the perfect mathematical model of what’s going to happen and that there are,
sort of, second-order and third-order consequences that you can’t predict, is a good realization
and certainly from my perspective, I think banks have got that. Oreskes: The Inspector General at the US Treasury
Department just this morning issued a report in which he said that things were actually
worse, that the bailout measures taken to rescue the US system had actually created
new hazards and he compared it to a situation in which the bailouts had prevented the car
from driving off the cliff, but we were still going down the road in a high-speed car and
actually going faster than ever before. Is that a fair depiction of where we are, Dr
Ackermann? Ackermann: Well, it’s certainly a little bit
of exaggeration, but there is of course an element of truth in it. I mean, we have been
in close to a meltdown in the financial industry and unfortunately, no one liked that, we have
had to bail out many banks. Now, as I said in some meetings here, seldom so few have
done damage to so many and now the many are treated like the few. That’s a little bit
of medicine without having the disease. What we are doing now, we are giving the impression
that there is almost an embedded moral hazard and that is the wrong message. We have to
work the other way. We have to work on a path where we can have a system with resolution
regimes and many other things where banks failed exit the market. This is the restructuring
of any industrial market, any other industry and we have to get to that result as well,
and if you give people the feeling that maybe the top management loses a job and maybe shareholders
have some losses, but the rest is fine and we bailed them out and they are back to square
one and are back in the competitive landscape, that is the wrong message, and unfortunately,
but out of necessity, probably not out of goodwill, we have somewhat entered it, and
we have right now, even in terms of taxation, we run the risk of saying, ‘Well, liability
has to be a fee,’ because there is an implied moral hazard and bailout, and I think that’s
the message we have to fight. We have to say, ‘People, if you take risks, you are not being
bailed out and you will have to exit the market,’ and otherwise we are giving completely the
wrong incentives for the system. But I would like to say, if I may, one word
to the job creation and the reskilling. One of my biggest concerns is that so many young
people, even in Europe now, have the feeling of a loss of upward mobility and even if you
have all the instruments in place, internet, universities, schools, they don’t have the
motivation to have access to these instruments, and I think, ‘Why?’ Because they live in families
where the motivation is not there, where people, you know, sit in front of TV and drink, maybe,
a beer instead of talking about political issues or cultural issues. So we have to give
people these sort of ideas and we have to give them the feeling that they, if they work
hard, if they study, if they learn, they can also get a job and make a career, and I think
this sort of upward mobility is, for me, one of the key messages in our societies. Oreskes: Patricia Woertz? Woertz: I know it’s more fun to talk about
the banking sector. Oreskes: Luckily for you! Woertz: But I wanted to come back to your
question about what are the specific actions, and I actually really support what Peter said
as one of the good things about Davos is there’s many, many actions, and it may not appear
that way all the time. One of the reasons I agreed to be a co-chair is I was hopeful
to see and to help be part of making the action-to-talk ratio higher, and I can report that I think
that has happened and I think it is happening. Certainly in some of our governors’ meetings
and some of the sector discussions, we actually come back year after year and report on, or
have accountability to each other about, the actions, the studies we’re taking, the actions
we’re taking against them, some things we can do in unison, some we can do in partnership
with governments or NGOs, and I believe it is more action-oriented than you might think,
but it’s not one big answer, one silver bullet; it’s a lot of small ones that we have to take
some celebration in the actions we take year on year. Oreskes: I’d love to hear more about specific
actions, to pick up on Mr Sands’s point. Even if they’re individually small, what are some
of the more interesting ideas and actions you’ve heard about here that you think need
to be encouraged? Woertz: I’ll give you four from what’s called
the Consumer Industries Group, and this goes not just retailers or food manufacturers,
but all the way up the chain from agricultural producers, seed manufacturers, logistics,
producers all the way to consumers. We had a care and a worry about water, and this is
one that’s been going on for multiple years, and there’s been mapping and measurement studies,
specific actions taking on water reduction, on understanding what regions are deficit,
what regions are surplus, how it can be a local and regional issue not just a global
one. A second one on this agriculture study that I mentioned a bit earlier, it’s only
a seven-month study, but very specific actions taken and commitments to one another related
to the regional World Economic Forum meetings and then what would occur next year at this
time, so I see some real specific actions. Oreskes: Mr Williams? Williams: Yes, I think two areas I would point
to in the health industry. I think one is looking at new models of healthcare delivery
and I think that there are some very exciting models that are unfolding in some of the emerging
countries that look at using skill sets in very different ways. In a lot of ways, the
developed countries have a very hardened set of roles and responsibilities in the healthcare
system, and I think there’s a huge opportunity that the health industry sector’s looking
at, really studying and implementing, new delivery models and seeing how those models
can increase access to healthcare, and at the same time represent lesson to be learned
for developed countries in terms of healthcare delivery. I think the second major category
centres around, really, wellness and the ability to get the global employer community really
understanding its role in the wellness and health and prevention of its workforce and
we believe that given this whole issue of chronic disease that there’s a huge opportunity
for the broad employer community, whether it’s businesses, NGOs, other entities, to
really view their role as playing a very important part in the wellness of their workforce. And
so I think you will see a lot more unfolding as an alliance begins to take place on that. Oreskes: Mr Sands? Sands: Well you probably don’t want to have
that much more on the detailed technicalities of the reform on the international banking
system. All I would say on that is that I do think there were very constructive discussions
here this week; there haven’t, in a sense, solved the issues but they have certainly,
I think, pushed them forward. Oreskes: Mr Ackermann? Ackermann: I think we didn’t mention one very
important element here in Davos, is microcredit and microfinance. I mean, this is very important
for re-skilling, it is very important for the creation of jobs, and I think all major
banks are now heavily involved in doing this, we are capable of supporting new businesses,
small businesses, they learn, they develop, some of them get big, and I think that is
a very important contribution to world economy. Oreskes: We are down to our final minutes.
Mr Premji, let me turn to you and begin to wrap up by asking you, when we return here
next year, where do we need to be, what do we need to have accomplished, where does the
world need to be going on specific questions? Premji: One question which I shall just come
back to, which I think really should be a very focused area of discussion and action
items, is this area of technical services and people flows, people movements, in technical
services. Because the definition of technical services is much beyond software, it is much
beyond BPO; it is legal services, it is accounting services, it is R&D services, it is biotechnology
services, and the percentage of services in all GDPs is going beyond 60%, much beyond
60%. If emerged nations or developed nations take unfair, unreasonable protectionist measures
against movements of services, rest assured that the large, developing countries will
take immediate action on movements of products. It is very simple to do, it just requires
one budget to raise tariffs, and all the moods I sense in India, all the moods I sense in
China, is that if services are put under severe, unreasonable restrictions, you will get tariffs
going up overnight. And they will use the economic power of a large consuming market
to be able to play the game. Don’t underestimate, the world is different, the dynamics of power
blocks is different, and the self confidence of emerging nations is of a completely different
order of magnitude today, just because of the power of the markets to the emerged worlds.
This has to be an issue of address on a more balanced basis than there is give and take,
and there will have to be give and take on this. Oreskes: This of course goes to the heart
of one of Professor Schwab’s principles of Davos – the multi-stakeholder –
and how do we assure the trust, if you will, the prevention of fragmentation in the kind
of crisis-ridden environment we are in right now? Sands: There isn’t an easy answer to that.
I think it takes leadership; it takes leadership at a governmental level, it takes leadership
from business leaders, it takes leadership from NGOs, other parties within the sort of
broader community and a lot of communication. I do think we face a collective challenge
because of a breakdown of trust and people are angry, bewildered, they are worried. I
do think, coming back to what it takes to build jobs, part of it is just basically confidence.
Because confidence to start up a small business, confidence to invest and creating that confidence
requires leadership. Oreskes: In some ways we go all the way back
to Franklin Roosevelt, ‘The greatest thing to fear is fear,’ is it not? Dr Ackermann? Ackermann: I found one idea and proposal quite
intriguing here in Davos. When someone said the famous Henry Kissinger sentence, ‘If you
want to call Europe, what’s the phone number?’ It is a bit true for business as well: if
you want to call business what is the phone number? And why not have, in addition, parallel
to the G20, a B20? A Business20 where some key leaders from business, from different
industries, sit together and have a maybe more institutionalized style of the G20 and,
with the rest of the world, including all the other stakeholders? Maybe that is something
that we have to work on from a business global governance point of view. I’m sure that Davos
could play, and the Forum, a very important coordinating and maybe very important role
as well. Oreskes: Patricia Woertz, where would you
like you see us in 12 months from now? Woertz: Well, where I would like to see and
where I think it might be different things. Oreskes: You can do both. Woertz: I would like to see greater job growth.
So, I think that will have part of the feeling of the confidence that we talk about getting
back there. I would also like to see the engine of growth and thinking about wearing bifocal
lenses; sure we need to worry about the short term because it is what helps us survive for
the longer term, but not to take our eyes off some of the more pressing needs longer
term as well. So next year this time, if the short term has some improvement I believe
there will be an opportunity to continue to reinvest for the long term. Oreskes: Mr Williams? Williams: Yes, I would see policies that really
have supported job creation. I think a bit part of that I would mention in this context
of sector clarity. I really do want to echo Peter’s point that, as we look at financial
regulatory reform and reform in other sectors on the global level, one approach means that
we believe that one approach is the right approach. I think what we have seen in the
global regulatory framework is, to the degree that there have been different approaches
taken, some have turned out to be more effective than others. I think in the health domain,
I think one of the most important areas is really health information technology, because
information technology has unlocked productivity in virtually every other sector with the exception
of health. I believe that if we can have global initiatives focused on that, we can increase
access to healthcare through things like telemedicine, remote monitoring, and biometrics capabilities.
That we can get healthcare systems connected, including the consumer, using phones and smart-phone
technology and that we can use evidence-based medicine in a way that makes the state of
the art in clinical medicine available to everyone globally. Oreskes: Mr Sands, beyond the details of the
banking business, where would you like to see us? Sands: My wish list for what we might see
over the next 12 months: well, one, clarity on the shape of the financial-services architecture
rather than the broader economy. Second – and maybe this is whistling in the wind –
but progress on Doha. At the very least, let’s not slip back into protectionism in all its
many forms. Then something that we haven’t talked about much, just because of the way
the discussion has followed, we don’t want to be in the same state of post-Copenhagen
confusion 12 months from now. Somehow or other we need to get that process around how the
world gets its act together around climate change has to gain momentum and confidence
and be translated into action. I think it would be a tragedy for the world if we are
where we are now, 12 months from now. Oreskes: Dr Ackermann, I have 15 seconds left.
Do you have one thing you would like to see between now and our return here next year? Ackermann: Well, trade is very important,
as Peter just said. In addition, stop the blame game; let’s go back in collaborative
efforts because the challenges ahead of us are bigger than some of the failures of the
past. Oreskes: And on that note, we are done. I
thank our panellists for exciting conversation and really a very commendable job of summarizing
five days of conversation here at Davos. This has been the AP Davos debate; thank you and
good morning. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman,
World Economic Forum: First I would like thank our co-chairs for
having shepherded us so well through the discussions during the last five days. We have heard now
some of the scene through a business leaders’ perspective, but I have to say, through a
perspective of business leaders with great social responsibility. I think that came clearly
out of the last discussion. Now, let’s end the meeting with reflecting on values and
let’s do so by indicating particularly the young generation. I will introduce afterwards
some outstanding people, below 20 years old, and let’s hear how they feel about the values
which we should have in order to create optimal governance in our world. But first I would
like to call one of our Young Global Leaders to the stage. Pekka Himanen, a philosopher
from Finland, but really actively involved, particularly in our Dignity project of the
Young Global Leaders and being involved in our global redesign initiative. Pekka Himanen, Young Global Leader, Finland: Thank you very much, Klaus. Everyone is speaking
about what are the values for the future development and, therefore, we have been filming around
the world the views of the current leaders, such as Desmond Tutu or Queen Rania, presidents
and CEOs. But also, the views and voices of the young people, because it’s actually their
future that we are talking about. What do they value? What are they for? And the message
is clear: they are calling for new values, a more dignified world. And here is a short
sample of voices of some great young people with a big heart. [Start of video] Participant: I want to live in a world where
in the World Economic Forum there is only six Changemakers and the rest of you. Tshepiso Gower, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Botswana: Hi. I am Tshepiso Gower. I am 19 years old
and I come from Botswana. Nishin Nathwani, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Canada: Hello. My name is Nishin Nathwani. I am 17
years old and I am from Canada. Mousa Musa, Global Changemaker, British Council
Global Changemakers, Iraq: I’m Mousa, I’m 17 and I’m from Iraq. Gower: I want to live in a world that values
the humanity of each other; a world where one person respects the fact that the other
is just as human as they are. Nathwani: What I value most is compassion,
the ability to look into another human being and see your own virtues, your own suffering,
your own joy, the whole package of your experience. Musa: And if we just look at – look
back at ourselves and our experiences and we appreciate them, we can appreciate everybody’s
experiences and we can appreciate people. Nathwani: What I value most is compassion. Gower: I want to live in a world that values
the humanity. Musa: And what I value most is myself. Participant: I do it in a rap, homie, but
I ain’t scared, it’s for the visually impaired. I ain’t afraid to fight for my right; this,
baby, is called the school of life. Peace. Participant: I want to live in a world of
environmental sustainability, where is it no longer permissible for any society or nation
to jeopardize the ability of future generations to enjoy the same earth that we do today. Participant: A world where our leaders act
more than they speak. Participant: And let’s not mention even improving
the state of the world, let’s just do it. I mean that’s what I think. [End of video] Schwab: I open this session by, first, welcoming
very cordially the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Your Grace,
we are very grateful that at the end of five weeks – five days of discussion –
for me it looks like five weeks, you see! That after those five days of discussion we
can, in your presence and in the presence of those young people, we can discuss what
values do we really need to master our future. And what I would like, first, to do, we have
seen the young people on the screen, but I would like to ask, before Your Grace will
address us, I would just like to ask you to say where you are coming from, how old you
are. If you would start. Sarah Jameel, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Sri Lanka: My name is Sarah Jameel. I’m 18 years old
and I’m from Sri Lanka. Nathwani: My name is Nishin Nathwani. I am
17 years old and I am from Canada. Gower: My name is Tshepiso Gower. I am 19
years old and I am from Botswana. Joao Rafael Brites, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Portugal: My name is Joao Brites. I’m 19 years old and
I’m from Portugal. Carmina Mancenon, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Japan: Hi, I’m Carmina. I’m 16 years old and I’m
from the Philippines and Japan. Musa: My name is Mousa. I’m 17 years old and
I’m from Iraq. Schwab: You have been selected in a rigorous
process and thanks to our cooperation with the British Council. Now, everybody of you
has something which is very special. You have engaged already into society. If in one sentence
you just would say what you are doing, because you are not just students; you are really
engaged young people. Jameel: I’m a health entrepreneur and therefore
I create social change with my campaign called ‘Kick the Butt’. It is an anti teen smoking
campaign that aims at changing the mindsets of teenagers via social media and fashion. Nathwani: I work within the education system
to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and also discrimination against minority studies
of racial, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds. Gower: I work with gender equality and the
empowerment of the woman and I’m currently embarking upon a project targeted towards
economic empowerment of the woman through entrepreneurship facilitation. Brites: What I do is using break dance with
my break dance crew to fight criminality and promote social inclusion among challenged
young people. Schwab: But you are also a swimmer’s champion
in your country. Brites: Yes, at 16. Mancenon: I’m a social entrepreneur with a
focus on poverty and I’m currently initiating a project, it’s called ‘Stitch Tomorrow’ and
it’s a microfinance initiative to combat poverty using fashion. Musa: I work in a school for the visually
impaired in Iraq and I go in and get them the equipment they need that is not supplied
by anybody else. Thank you. Schwab: What a great selection. Your Grace. Rowan D. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury,
United Kingdom: I’m Rowan Williams and I’m 59 years old and
I’m feeling very ineffectual just at the moment. Schwab: How would you define values which
we all have to embrace to really secure our future? Williams: People sometimes quote the old cliché
‘Why should I worry about posterity, what’s posterity ever done for me?’ And I think what
we have to come to terms with, first of all, is recognizing that here and now we are taking
decisions that whether we like it or not have effects long beyond our own lifespan. Those
decisions may be conscious decisions, we know what values they’re based on, we know where
we want to get, or they may be short-term, narrow decisions whose effects we don’t understand
or control and don’t very much care about. So the very first thing I’d want to say is
that it’s important for us, here and now, to wake up to the fact that what we decide,
what we simply accept or let by, the habits we value, the behaviours we reward, these
things create the world of the next generation, and we can’t get away from that, whether we
like it or not. If it’s important then, for human beings to live as if they were intelligent,
as if they were capable of understanding themselves, it’s important for human beings to be aware
of the consequences of their actions. So, posterity is not just some abstract thing
from which we are divided. We, here and now, are the makers of a new generation, a new
climate. Some of us are literally parents. We have made our contribution to the next
generation. So, let’s wake up to who we are. Let’s wake up and do justice to ourselves.
I say that, because sometimes if you speak about doing justice to the next generation,
again it can sound abstract. But what about doing justice to ourselves? Acting as if we
really understood that we were making a difference, for good or ill, in a coming generation? So, I’d frame the whole discussion in the
light of that recognition. And that has, I think, the rather strange effect of making
us realize that the best thing we can do for the future, to show our responsibility to
the future, is living responsibly in the present. Now, sometimes when people say we are living
in the present, it’s as if they are saying, we live as if there were no tomorrow; we live
for the immediate moment. But actually, living responsibly in the present, really being aware
of the kind of world we are in, the limits it imposes, the wisdom it suggests. That living
responsibly is the best gift we can give to the future. It’s a kind of realism. It’s a
kind of truthfulness about who we are, and where we are. The worst thing that has emerged out of the
economic and ecological crises of the last few decades is of course our failure to live
in the real world. We live in a world of fantasy. A world where there is endless material resource
to be exploited. A world in which it is possible to change the destiny of millions of people
by financial transactions happening in mid-air. That’s not the real world. I do take some
offence when some people say, ‘Oh, you theologians and people who talk about ideals and values
don’t live in the real world.’ I see plenty of evidence of other decision makers not living
in the real world in that sense. I think what my colleagues here on the platform have been
talking about is the real world. So, living responsibly in the present, living within
the limits that are imposed by being part of a world, part of a system of interdependence.
Human interdependence, depending on each other. Dependence on the resource of the world we
are in. In the light of that, I’d say there are two
or three huge, obvious priorities in terms of our responsibility to the future. The first
of these, I have already touched on – you hardly need it underlined – and
that is responsibility around the environment. Are we living in the world now in such a way
that it will be inhabitable by the next generation? Or are we spending the natural capital of
our globe in such a way that it is harder and harder to live a secure, reasoned, mutual
life in the next generation? I spent the past few days at a conference in New York on Building
an Ethical Economy. One of the people there who shared the platform with me was the Cambridge
economist, Sir Partha Dasgupta, whose great contribution to economic discussion in recent
years has been insisting that you factor into your economic calculation the degradation
of natural capital, which often our mathematics around finance and economics simply doesn’t
do. And so, we can’t but begin with that. What are we squandering? What are we ruining?
How much are we making the world of the next generation harder for people to inhabit with
honesty, truthfulness, responsibility, care, mutuality? The second thing is again to do with security,
by which I mean things like security of work and food supply, as well as environment. It’s
a pity that the word security has come to signal, almost exclusively in some people’s
eyes, military and strategic security. Those are not small things, but behind them, and
around them, lies the far, far greater question of what is going to provide that secure human
environment, whether it’s work, whether it’s food. So, our responsibility to the future
is also about sustaining levels of care for one another, especially for the most vulnerable.
If we think about the imperative to create and sustain national wealth, at the heart
of that ought to be the imperative to sustain care for the vulnerable, to sustain the security
that means nobody need live in perpetual fear of failure, of falling through the nets. Environment, employment and care. But the
third dimension is in some ways the most important of all, and that’s why I am feeling particularly
privileged to be on the platform with the people I am with here. The third element is
what I’d call passing on the cultural legacy: passing on a picture of human behaviour, human
achievement, and human aspiration that is worthwhile. What are we giving to the future
in terms of the human stories that we value? What sort of behaviour do we look as if we
most valued in our world at the moment? The answers are often rather depressing. We reward
achievements of a certain kind. We speak and we work, very often, as if the behaviours
that ought to be rewarded were either obsessional, or selfish, or both. So the challenge is:
what do we, here and now in the present, value as human beings? Why not start living as if
those values mattered? Because, and here is the blindingly simple message of the day:
the old cliché about not being able to take it with you is actually true. It goes
back to the gospels, by which I try to organize my own life. Jesus’s story about the rich
man who is woken in the middle of the night by a vision of God saying, ‘Your soul is required
of you tonight’, and what difference does all that make? That is something worth bearing
in mind. Our souls, our lives are going to be required of us. The most we can ever do
with what we achieve is to put it at the service of the world we inhabit, the human world,
the wider world. That is the most we can ever do. And to lead lives here and now which suggest
that that is what we want to pass on, that’s the vision of humanity we want to communicate.
Once again, it takes us back to where I started – living responsibly now is the best
way of showing responsibility to the future. When people don’t think about the future,
when they don’t consider they have a responsibility to the next generation and beyond, what they’re
really saying is, ‘We don’t actually value humanity enough to want to keep it going.
We don’t value our own humanity sufficiently. We’re not content enough, grateful enough,
to be human to want that humanity to live in other people,’ and that is a real tragedy. We are so undermining that sense that humanity
is precious that a new generation rising up might very well look at us and say, ‘What
was it that wounded you, that distorted you so deeply, that you can’t see what matters
humanly? What was it that taught you,’ us, me, people of my generation, ‘what was it
that taught you to undervalue humanity like this, so that you didn’t think a rich and
full humanity was worth passing on to the next generation?’ Again, you see, it comes
back to the question: how we live now, how we understand ourselves now. And to that mixture
of the selfish and obsessional that so often we reward in our working practices and our
social practices. So, in sum, I think I’d simply say this: responsibility
to the future is responsibility for a vision of humanity that has excited and enlarged
us. It’s taking responsibility for a humanity in which mutual generosity, mutual nurture,
are the things that live, that literally breed, that generate and create a world worth living
in. It’s a matter of telling the stories of that humanity in such a way that they enlarge
and define the world for another generation. Sometimes we talk as if we don’t really need
heroes and heroines in our world. Nonsense, I say. We need stories of how humanity can
be lived. We need good stories of the kind of social and individual practice that shows
people valuing the human, living in the present responsibly, enjoying the humanity that is
enriched by mutual giving, mutual attention, mutual valuing. And that’s the kind of story that the others
on this platform will have to tell and we will have tell about them. And that’s why
it’s so crucial and such a gift that they’re here. And I’d really like to here from them
at this point. Schwab: Thank you, Your Grace. Now, let’s
see you reactions. How do you define also your own future in the context of what the
Archbishop said? Sarah, do you want to start? Jameel: I believe that humanity is the most
important thing currently in the world in which we live in, whether it’s the financial
crisis, whether it’s climate change we’re dealing with, or whether it’s the health crisis
we’re dealing with. And this can only be achieved via action, grass-root-level action, which
is not just defined merely by words. Example: John Lennon always said, ‘You may say I’m
a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.’ I think I can speak for all six of us here and say
that we are dreamers, but we need to create the reality that we wish and dream for. Schwab: Anyone else, a reaction? Mousa? Musa: Well, I found what the Archbishop said
was really interesting because the fact that we would – the understanding that the
future generation is the generation that’s going to take on the world and the generation
that’s going to nurture it, and we have to set up a good example for that generation.
We have to tell them that the community that we are building is a community for their embetterment
and a community to make a better world for them, instead of making a worse world for
them. Schwab: So you have to be the heroes, as the
Archbishop said, for the young generation. But – yes? Brites: And I think the necessity of action
not only means big actions, as what we are discussing here, but small actions. Small
actions are as important as the biggest ones. And I think one of the things that we really
lack in this world is people make their own actions, their everyday actions, consistent
with the greatest dreams and the biggest dreams they have to the future. Schwab: Let me stop here and let me ask you,
Your Grace, we had three comments – would you like to comment on the comments? Williams: I think what strikes me most about
the comments is the emphasis on the small scale, not being paralysed by the sense the
problems are too big. And this is something which, again, can be a bit counter-cultural
these days – we like quick results, we like to see instant effects from our actions.
But some things, because they’re just worth doing are worth doing. We do them because
they express something deep in ourselves, because we believe they express something
deep in the universe itself, I’d say as a religious believer, and therefore they’re
worth doing. You don’t say, ‘Well, that’s not very likely to work, so I shan’t bother.’
And that’s why I think that the key to real change is again and again persuading people
at grass-roots level that, although – to use a phrase that’s sometimes used here
– they may not be able to make all the difference, there is a difference only
they can make. And I guess all of you have been asking, ‘What’s the difference only I
can make in this particular local context?’ Finding the strategic moment, the strategic
place, where you know you can make a difference. Now, the tragedy again is that we live in
a world where a huge part of the human race is fed the message: decisions, important decisions,
are always taken somewhere else. And another person with me this week in New York was the
Archbishop of Burundi, coming from a country where after decades of carnage and poverty
it’s very difficult for people to believe that they have decisions they can make. And
he said this week nearly the whole of African continent believes profoundly that the decisions
that matter are being taken somewhere else. And, you know, there’s a lot of evidence for
that. So, how do you get to that level where tangible
difference can be made? Whether it’s the local health project, micro-credit – which
I get very enthusiastic and eloquent about – or any of the other things that you’ve
mentioned and others have been working at – the small-scale, the difference only
you can make. Schwab: Nishin, what is your reaction? Do
you feel you have control over your own life or are others making the really relevant decisions
for you? Nathwani: Well, I think it’s really inspiring,
first of all, that the six of us are here because we’re all community, grass-roots-level
activists. And so I think just by the mere fact that we’re on this stage right now speaking
to you all, it’s an acknowledgement that grass-roots-level individuals working on the ground have something
to say to individuals with decision-making capabilities. So I do think that this awareness
is increasing now. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done, I believe. I believe the
youth voice needs to come out more and that there still needs to be a lot more youth engagement
and overall general citizen engagement, but the mere fact that we’re here I think is very
encouraging and I think we should all take that into account. Schwab: Yes, Carmina. Mancenon: Yes, thank you very much for your
words. It was very inspiring. And also I think that youth involvement is a crucial aspect
of today’s generation – to actually involve ourselves from the very beginning,
not when we’re 15 or 16, but starting from when we are able to form decisions, because
ultimately it is our generation that will be left with the consequences. So I think
that it’s not only about getting our voices out there, but it’s also working together
to make this happen, being able to bridge the gap between your generation and our generation,
I think, is really important. Schwab: Tshepiso. Gower: Well, I think that it all boils down
to respect. If you respect the entities around you, you will see their worth. You will be
aware of their worth and then in the context of decision making, you will then involve
them. That is where the issue of youth involvement comes in. And the issue of youth involvement
is just a microcosm of the bigger picture: if you take it up into the more international
and global platforms, the involvement of third-world countries. So essentially, I think it boils
down to that overall inclusion of all the stakeholders. Schwab: Your Grace, do you want to take it
on? Williams: I’m glad the word ‘respect’ has
been used here, because I think that’s very closely connected to what I was feeling for
in talking about valuing the humanity that’s here and now, including ourselves, respect
for ourselves, which is a pivotal thing in, you know, educating us in respect for each
other. And that depends, in turn, on feeling we are treated with attention, with reverence
– I’d go even further than saying respect but reverence – for the extraordinary
quality of the humanity that is ours. But I think I’d want to say something also
in framing this more widely, something about how we conceive education itself as working.
And I think more and more we’re in a cultural situation where education needs to find its
soul again. In lots of developed societies, education seems to have become more mechanical,
more anxious, more driven, and it’s about again getting results quickly. And it’s become
less about enlarging the imagination of what can be done and who we might be. And I was
thinking a couple of days ago – again in the context of meetings I’ve been at –
I was thinking of how we understand what economic education might involve. Is it simply a matter
of looking at figures and learning how to use statistics and looking at the histories
of national economies, or is it also about encouraging young people in education to get
some experience, let’s say, of a micro credit programme, to get some contact through email,
through electronic communication, some contact with those who are seeking to make a difference
at the levels you’re working at in other parts of the world. Is economic education global
enough and active enough? What could be done there? I’m just fascinated to think what the
possibilities could be on that front. Schwab: So just one question, Your Grace,
which intrigues me. You defined being responsible in the present and you took as a reference
point the future of humanity. Now, my question. You used once the word ‘soul’. My question
is, ‘Is there some transcendental force behind it? Do you imply it in your definition of
humanity?’ And before you give an answer, we have a multi cultural group of young people
and it would be very interesting to hear from some, if they think of humanity. Do you think
also of some transcendental force behind humanity? And I may ask this question because it’s Sunday
morning. Williams: And since I’m not getting a chance
to preach anywhere else this morning, this is my opportunity I take it! Schwab: Let’s first maybe see the young people.
How do you feel? Is there something else? Is it just humanity? Or what drives you? Yes. Brites: From my very personal point of view,
the fact that I don’t believe in something that transcends us all is what made me have
my activism and my social approach, because I realized that it doesn’t matter what we
learn, but what we grow to be, and what we grow to be depends mainly on us and the other
humanity. And if I asked many times myself the question that, ‘If there was someone who
transcends us all, why would there have been so many problems?’ The world would be so hard
to – there wouldn’t be so many problems and so many issues to address. And that’s
what we all six activists are trying to address. Schwab: Yes, please, Mousa. Musa: Well, for me, I do believe in a force.
The fact of the matter is, for me, it’s a matter of faith. We have to have faith in
something. In a place where faith does not exist much in one another, we have to have
faith in people and we have to have faith in a force, in a transcendental force. If
we don’t know or don’t agree on how to approach that matter, let’s just treat each other with
respect, as Tshepiso said. Let’s treat each other as a moral guidance, as a set of principles,
following a set of principles. Let’s treat each other, the people we live with, let’s
treat them in a good way, in a moral manner. And that’s how it makes us really human beings;
it’s that we work with each other. And I think, it there is a transcendental force, this is
the basis of all religions – basic human interaction. And that is what we should
base it on. Schwab: Sarah? Jameel: I believe that this force or faith
as you call it is individualistic. It’s something that you believe within yourself. It’s something
within your soul and it’s something that you stand for, but that should not by any means
hinder what other people believe in. And it’s using those different – using the diversity
that you get, whether you are a Christian, whether you are a Muslim, whether you are
a Jew. That is not what humanity’s based upon. What it’s based upon is the fundamentals of
humanity – as you said, being able to respect others, being able to empathize
with others, if there is a crisis. And I think using all these different forces to create
a mosaic of diversity, that is what real humanity is about and what we should strive for, for
the future. Schwab: Nishin? Nathwani: I just want to bring up the point
as well that I think collective humanity is itself a transcendental force. I think that
the power of working together and, like you said, respect and fundamental human values,
when they’re applied in a broad context beyond just your personal initiative, that in itself
becomes a transcendental force. And I think all of the limits of progress right now –
war, division, etc. – can be transcended by the nature of the collective. And I think
that it comes back to realizing within yourself the values that you wish to establish in the
world. And the catchy term ‘critical mass’, I believe, has a lot of truth in it. I believe
that when each individual person in themselves takes the initiative to awaken these values
and to awaken that will, whether it be a belief in a tree or a god or anything else, to take
that initiative, to find the willpower to act in a motivation, and when a critical mass
achieves that, that individual strength, together that is a transcendental force. Schwab: Tshepiso? Gower: Well, I think that, you know, all is
well and good and I appreciate your opinions, but I think we must not delude ourselves to
the fact that as human beings we are inherently wired to believe in cause and effect. We all
need explanations for why things happen, that’s just the way it is, so I think what we really
should focus on is just a higher sense of awareness to the fact that we do need something
to believe in. It’s better to know that as a human being you need explanations and you
need justifications that for you to be at that point where you’re groping in the dark,
saying, ‘What can I believe in?’ I think it’s better to have an awareness of that higher
level, to say, ‘Okay, I understand how I’m wired.’ Schwab: Carmina? Mancenon: Yes, I also believe that besides
all the points that were mentioned, what really drives our activism and our fulfilment in
social entrepreneurship is actually fulfilling our promises. Because it’s one thing to say
to a person, to a teenager and see their face light up when you say that, ‘Okay, we’re going
to give you a house soon, you’ll have a home,’ but then it’s different when you actually
act upon it and make your words not just promises, but make it into action, because action is
really what drives the human race and I think that that’s what our society should be based
on, and not just words. Schwab: One last word before – Nathwani: Sure, I just want to say to build
off what Carmina said, of course we’re talking about these abstract concepts like respect
and love, etc., but I think that these are all ideals and I think the nature of the World
Economic Forum and venues such as this is to contemplate the nature of these ideals,
the purity of the ideal, sustainability, global peace, etc., but we must never forget that
in contemplating the ideals, the eventual goal is to turn them into action, and I think
we fail to bridge those two because we fail to acknowledge what bridges those two, and
that, to me, is persistence, and fearless persistence, the ability to overcome obstacles
and never compromise our principles in pursuit of those highest ideals. Schwab: Your Grace, how do you now define
– I mean, we have here on the one hand the present, humanity and the transcendent.
How does it relate each to another? Williams: Perhaps I could come back on one
or two of the observations that have been made about the transcendent. I don’t myself
see God as the supernatural problem-solver that we call on to get us off the hook. I
prefer to see God – well, I don’t say I prefer to see God, I believe in a God who
has created us to reflect and to share God’s own creative freedom, so action is built into
that belief. We’re made to demonstrate what the energy that made the universe is like.
For me as a Christian, that’s an energy of self-sharing love. That’s what’s fundamental
for every imaginable reality, and that’s therefore what I must live out of and what I need to
show, to manifest, to make flesh in my own life, and I stick to that belief because,
I guess, I’m perhaps a little less optimistic than some of you about how easy it is to go
on nurturing the sense of human value and human respect without that framework. There
have been societies in the last 100 years in which humanity has been systematically
ground down by tyranny and injustice, by ideologies that write off millions of people. Quite literally.
In a society like that, and God forbid we find ourselves in such a situation again,
but in societies like that one of the things that crucially, centrally keeps alive an uncompromising
commitment to human value is the belief that every other human being is the object of an
unflinching, unchanging love which doesn’t depend on me, but is just there, it’s in the
universe. God looks at each one with that intense white heat of loving attention, and
therefore when I look at them, I see someone who is precious in the eyes of God, and nothing
can change that, whatever the government says, whatever the system says, whatever the circumstances
say, that value is just there, built-in, and because that’s not an absolutely self-evident
thing in the human world, because throughout the ages and even now millions of people still
live as if other people’s lives didn’t matter, and can be seduced into that inhuman way of
thinking and feeling, I believe that religious faith remains a key to the, if I can say this,
the humanist values we all share. Schwab: Let’s end our Annual Meeting with
those words and let’s take them to our hearts, and I will express our gratitude for all those
young voices. I think it gives us a lot of optimism listening to you. If this is the
future, we can be very confident about the future, and I would like to thank the Most
Reverend Dr Williams very much for having come here because, as he mentioned, you had
to make a special effort to join us from New York, to be this morning with us. Give them
a big clap. We are coming to the end of the Annual Meeting.
I would like to thank you. You have been marvellously engaged, committed; I think those were five
great days. We didn’t solve all the problems in the world, but I think we demonstrated
very much that we are a human, global community and I think this is the key if you speak about
respect. We showed a lot of respect despite the fact that each one is – despite
the fact that we came from different stakeholder groups, from different ages, from different
cultures, so it’s a good sign for the world as such. I could thank so many people, over
1,000 people who worked for you during the last days. I would like to single out only
one person, because he really was behind of all the programmes, sessions and so on, and
it’s Lee Howell who was responsible for this Annual Meeting programme, but there are many
others. Here he is. Lee. Your Grace, thank you again, and dear members,
see you again at the latest in a year from now. And don’t forget what the young people
said: it’s action which shows our real commitment. Thank you. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman,
World Economic Forum: First I would like thank our co-chairs for
having shepherded us so well through the discussions during the last five days. We have heard now
some of the scene through a business leaders’ perspective, but I have to say, through a
perspective of business leaders with great social responsibility. I think that came clearly
out of the last discussion. Now, let’s end the meeting with reflecting on values and
let’s do so by indicating particularly the young generation. I will introduce afterwards
some outstanding people, below 20 years old, and let’s hear how they feel about the values
which we should have in order to create optimal governance in our world. But first I would
like to call one of our Young Global Leaders to the stage. Pekka Himanen, a philosopher
from Finland, but really actively involved, particularly in our Dignity project of the
Young Global Leaders and being involved in our global redesign initiative. Pekka Himanen, Young Global Leader, Finland: Thank you very much, Klaus. Everyone is speaking
about what are the values for the future development and, therefore, we have been filming around
the world the views of the current leaders, such as Desmond Tutu or Queen Rania, presidents
and CEOs. But also, the views and voices of the young people, because it’s actually their
future that we are talking about. What do they value? What are they for? And the message
is clear: they are calling for new values, a more dignified world. And here is a short
sample of voices of some great young people with a big heart. [Start of video] Participant: I want to live in a world where
in the World Economic Forum there is only six Changemakers and the rest of you. Tshepiso Gower, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Botswana: Hi. I am Tshepiso Gower. I am 19 years old
and I come from Botswana. Nishin Nathwani, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Canada: Hello. My name is Nishin Nathwani. I am 17
years old and I am from Canada. Mousa Musa, Global Changemaker, British Council
Global Changemakers, Iraq: I’m Mousa, I’m 17 and I’m from Iraq. Gower: I want to live in a world that values
the humanity of each other; a world where one person respects the fact that the other
is just as human as they are. Nathwani: What I value most is compassion,
the ability to look into another human being and see your own virtues, your own suffering,
your own joy, the whole package of your experience. Musa: And if we just look at – look
back at ourselves and our experiences and we appreciate them, we can appreciate everybody’s
experiences and we can appreciate people. Nathwani: What I value most is compassion. Gower: I want to live in a world that values
the humanity. Musa: And what I value most is myself. Participant: I do it in a rap, homie, but
I ain’t scared, it’s for the visually impaired. I ain’t afraid to fight for my right; this,
baby, is called the school of life. Peace. Participant: I want to live in a world of
environmental sustainability, where is it no longer permissible for any society or nation
to jeopardize the ability of future generations to enjoy the same earth that we do today. Participant: A world where our leaders act
more than they speak. Participant: And let’s not mention even improving
the state of the world, let’s just do it. I mean that’s what I think. [End of video] Schwab: I open this session by, first, welcoming
very cordially the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Your Grace,
we are very grateful that at the end of five weeks – five days of discussion –
for me it looks like five weeks, you see! That after those five days of discussion we
can, in your presence and in the presence of those young people, we can discuss what
values do we really need to master our future. And what I would like, first, to do, we have
seen the young people on the screen, but I would like to ask, before Your Grace will
address us, I would just like to ask you to say where you are coming from, how old you
are. If you would start. Sarah Jameel, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Sri Lanka: My name is Sarah Jameel. I’m 18 years old
and I’m from Sri Lanka. Nathwani: My name is Nishin Nathwani. I am
17 years old and I am from Canada. Gower: My name is Tshepiso Gower. I am 19
years old and I am from Botswana. Joao Rafael Brites, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Portugal: My name is Joao Brites. I’m 19 years old and
I’m from Portugal. Carmina Mancenon, Global Changemaker, British
Council Global Changemakers, Japan: Hi, I’m Carmina. I’m 16 years old and I’m
from the Philippines and Japan. Musa: My name is Mousa. I’m 17 years old and
I’m from Iraq. Schwab: You have been selected in a rigorous
process and thanks to our cooperation with the British Council. Now, everybody of you
has something which is very special. You have engaged already into society. If in one sentence
you just would say what you are doing, because you are not just students; you are really
engaged young people. Jameel: I’m a health entrepreneur and therefore
I create social change with my campaign called ‘Kick the Butt’. It is an anti teen smoking
campaign that aims at changing the mindsets of teenagers via social media and fashion. Nathwani: I work within the education system
to challenge prejudice and stereotypes and also discrimination against minority studies
of racial, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds. Gower: I work with gender equality and the
empowerment of the woman and I’m currently embarking upon a project targeted towards
economic empowerment of the woman through entrepreneurship facilitation. Brites: What I do is using break dance with
my break dance crew to fight criminality and promote social inclusion among challenged
young people. Schwab: But you are also a swimmer’s champion
in your country. Brites: Yes, at 16. Mancenon: I’m a social entrepreneur with a
focus on poverty and I’m currently initiating a project, it’s called ‘Stitch Tomorrow’ and
it’s a microfinance initiative to combat poverty using fashion. Musa: I work in a school for the visually
impaired in Iraq and I go in and get them the equipment they need that is not supplied
by anybody else. Thank you. Schwab: What a great selection. Your Grace. Rowan D. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury,
United Kingdom: I’m Rowan Williams and I’m 59 years old and
I’m feeling very ineffectual just at the moment. Schwab: How would you define values which
we all have to embrace to really secure our future? Williams: People sometimes quote the old cliché
‘Why should I worry about posterity, what’s posterity ever done for me?’ And I think what
we have to come to terms with, first of all, is recognizing that here and now we are taking
decisions that whether we like it or not have effects long beyond our own lifespan. Those
decisions may be conscious decisions, we know what values they’re based on, we know where
we want to get, or they may be short-term, narrow decisions whose effects we don’t understand
or control and don’t very much care about. So the very first thing I’d want to say is
that it’s important for us, here and now, to wake up to the fact that what we decide,
what we simply accept or let by, the habits we value, the behaviours we reward, these
things create the world of the next generation, and we can’t get away from that, whether we
like it or not. If it’s important then, for human beings to live as if they were intelligent,
as if they were capable of understanding themselves, it’s important for human beings to be aware
of the consequences of their actions. So, posterity is not just some abstract thing
from which we are divided. We, here and now, are the makers of a new generation, a new
climate. Some of us are literally parents. We have made our contribution to the next
generation. So, let’s wake up to who we are. Let’s wake up and do justice to ourselves.
I say that, because sometimes if you speak about doing justice to the next generation,
again it can sound abstract. But what about doing justice to ourselves? Acting as if we
really understood that we were making a difference, for good or ill, in a coming generation? So, I’d frame the whole discussion in the
light of that recognition. And that has, I think, the rather strange effect of making
us realize that the best thing we can do for the future, to show our responsibility to
the future, is living responsibly in the present. Now, sometimes when people say we are living
in the present, it’s as if they are saying, we live as if there were no tomorrow; we live
for the immediate moment. But actually, living responsibly in the present, really being aware
of the kind of world we are in, the limits it imposes, the wisdom it suggests. That living
responsibly is the best gift we can give to the future. It’s a kind of realism. It’s a
kind of truthfulness about who we are, and where we are. The worst thing that has emerged out of the
economic and ecological crises of the last few decades is of course our failure to live
in the real world. We live in a world of fantasy. A world where there is endless material resource
to be exploited. A world in which it is possible to change the destiny of millions of people
by financial transactions happening in mid-air. That’s not the real world. I do take some
offence when some people say, ‘Oh, you theologians and people who talk about ideals and values
don’t live in the real world.’ I see plenty of evidence of other decision makers not living
in the real world in that sense. I think what my colleagues here on the platform have been
talking about is the real world. So, living responsibly in the present, living within
the limits that are imposed by being part of a world, part of a system of interdependence.
Human interdependence, depending on each other. Dependence on the resource of the world we
are in. In the light of that, I’d say there are two
or three huge, obvious priorities in terms of our responsibility to the future. The first
of these, I have already touched on – you hardly need it underlined – and
that is responsibility around the environment. Are we living in the world now in such a way
that it will be inhabitable by the next generation? Or are we spending the natural capital of
our globe in such a way that it is harder and harder to live a secure, reasoned, mutual
life in the next generation? I spent the past few days at a conference in New York on Building
an Ethical Economy. One of the people there who shared the platform with me was the Cambridge
economist, Sir Partha Dasgupta, whose great contribution to economic discussion in recent
years has been insisting that you factor into your economic calculation the degradation
of natural capital, which often our mathematics around finance and economics simply doesn’t
do. And so, we can’t but begin with that. What are we squandering? What are we ruining?
How much are we making the world of the next generation harder for people to inhabit with
honesty, truthfulness, responsibility, care, mutuality? The second thing is again to do with security,
by which I mean things like security of work and food supply, as well as environment. It’s
a pity that the word security has come to signal, almost exclusively in some people’s
eyes, military and strategic security. Those are not small things, but behind them, and
around them, lies the far, far greater question of what is going to provide that secure human
environment, whether it’s work, whether it’s food. So, our responsibility to the future
is also about sustaining levels of care for one another, especially for the most vulnerable.
If we think about the imperative to create and sustain national wealth, at the heart
of that ought to be the imperative to sustain care for the vulnerable, to sustain the security
that means nobody need live in perpetual fear of failure, of falling through the nets. Environment, employment and care. But the
third dimension is in some ways the most important of all, and that’s why I am feeling particularly
privileged to be on the platform with the people I am with here. The third element is
what I’d call passing on the cultural legacy: passing on a picture of human behaviour, human
achievement, and human aspiration that is worthwhile. What are we giving to the future
in terms of the human stories that we value? What sort of behaviour do we look as if we
most valued in our world at the moment? The answers are often rather depressing. We reward
achievements of a certain kind. We speak and we work, very often, as if the behaviours
that ought to be rewarded were either obsessional, or selfish, or both. So the challenge is:
what do we, here and now in the present, value as human beings? Why not start living as if
those values mattered? Because, and here is the blindingly simple message of the day:
the old cliché about not being able to take it with you is actually true. It goes
back to the gospels, by which I try to organize my own life. Jesus’s story about the rich
man who is woken in the middle of the night by a vision of God saying, ‘Your soul is required
of you tonight’, and what difference does all that make? That is something worth bearing
in mind. Our souls, our lives are going to be required of us. The most we can ever do
with what we achieve is to put it at the service of the world we inhabit, the human world,
the wider world. That is the most we can ever do. And to lead lives here and now which suggest
that that is what we want to pass on, that’s the vision of humanity we want to communicate.
Once again, it takes us back to where I started – living responsibly now is the best
way of showing responsibility to the future. When people don’t think about the future,
when they don’t consider they have a responsibility to the next generation and beyond, what they’re
really saying is, ‘We don’t actually value humanity enough to want to keep it going.
We don’t value our own humanity sufficiently. We’re not content enough, grateful enough,
to be human to want that humanity to live in other people,’ and that is a real tragedy. We are so undermining that sense that humanity
is precious that a new generation rising up might very well look at us and say, ‘What
was it that wounded you, that distorted you so deeply, that you can’t see what matters
humanly? What was it that taught you,’ us, me, people of my generation, ‘what was it
that taught you to undervalue humanity like this, so that you didn’t think a rich and
full humanity was worth passing on to the next generation?’ Again, you see, it comes
back to the question: how we live now, how we understand ourselves now. And to that mixture
of the selfish and obsessional that so often we reward in our working practices and our
social practices. So, in sum, I think I’d simply say this: responsibility
to the future is responsibility for a vision of humanity that has excited and enlarged
us. It’s taking responsibility for a humanity in which mutual generosity, mutual nurture,
are the things that live, that literally breed, that generate and create a world worth living
in. It’s a matter of telling the stories of that humanity in such a way that they enlarge
and define the world for another generation. Sometimes we talk as if we don’t really need
heroes and heroines in our world. Nonsense, I say. We need stories of how humanity can
be lived. We need good stories of the kind of social and individual practice that shows
people valuing the human, living in the present responsibly, enjoying the humanity that is
enriched by mutual giving, mutual attention, mutual valuing. And that’s the kind of story that the others
on this platform will have to tell and we will have tell about them. And that’s why
it’s so crucial and such a gift that they’re here. And I’d really like to here from them
at this point. Schwab: Thank you, Your Grace. Now, let’s
see you reactions. How do you define also your own future in the context of what the
Archbishop said? Sarah, do you want to start? Jameel: I believe that humanity is the most
important thing currently in the world in which we live in, whether it’s the financial
crisis, whether it’s climate change we’re dealing with, or whether it’s the health crisis
we’re dealing with. And this can only be achieved via action, grass-root-level action, which
is not just defined merely by words. Example: John Lennon always said, ‘You may say I’m
a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.’ I think I can speak for all six of us here and say
that we are dreamers, but we need to create the reality that we wish and dream for. Schwab: Anyone else, a reaction? Mousa? Musa: Well, I found what the Archbishop said
was really interesting because the fact that we would – the understanding that the
future generation is the generation that’s going to take on the world and the generation
that’s going to nurture it, and we have to set up a good example for that generation.
We have to tell them that the community that we are building is a community for their embetterment
and a community to make a better world for them, instead of making a worse world for
them. Schwab: So you have to be the heroes, as the
Archbishop said, for the young generation. But – yes? Brites: And I think the necessity of action
not only means big actions, as what we are discussing here, but small actions. Small
actions are as important as the biggest ones. And I think one of the things that we really
lack in this world is people make their own actions, their everyday actions, consistent
with the greatest dreams and the biggest dreams they have to the future. Schwab: Let me stop here and let me ask you,
Your Grace, we had three comments – would you like to comment on the comments? Williams: I think what strikes me most about
the comments is the emphasis on the small scale, not being paralysed by the sense the
problems are too big. And this is something which, again, can be a bit counter-cultural
these days – we like quick results, we like to see instant effects from our actions.
But some things, because they’re just worth doing are worth doing. We do them because
they express something deep in ourselves, because we believe they express something
deep in the universe itself, I’d say as a religious believer, and therefore they’re
worth doing. You don’t say, ‘Well, that’s not very likely to work, so I shan’t bother.’
And that’s why I think that the key to real change is again and again persuading people
at grass-roots level that, although – to use a phrase that’s sometimes used here
– they may not be able to make all the difference, there is a difference only
they can make. And I guess all of you have been asking, ‘What’s the difference only I
can make in this particular local context?’ Finding the strategic moment, the strategic
place, where you know you can make a difference. Now, the tragedy again is that we live in
a world where a huge part of the human race is fed the message: decisions, important decisions,
are always taken somewhere else. And another person with me this week in New York was the
Archbishop of Burundi, coming from a country where after decades of carnage and poverty
it’s very difficult for people to believe that they have decisions they can make. And
he said this week nearly the whole of African continent believes profoundly that the decisions
that matter are being taken somewhere else. And, you know, there’s a lot of evidence for
that. So, how do you get to that level where tangible
difference can be made? Whether it’s the local health project, micro-credit – which
I get very enthusiastic and eloquent about – or any of the other things that you’ve
mentioned and others have been working at – the small-scale, the difference only
you can make. Schwab: Nishin, what is your reaction? Do
you feel you have control over your own life or are others making the really relevant decisions
for you? Nathwani: Well, I think it’s really inspiring,
first of all, that the six of us are here because we’re all community, grass-roots-level
activists. And so I think just by the mere fact that we’re on this stage right now speaking
to you all, it’s an acknowledgement that grass-roots-level individuals working on the ground have something
to say to individuals with decision-making capabilities. So I do think that this awareness
is increasing now. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done, I believe. I believe the
youth voice needs to come out more and that there still needs to be a lot more youth engagement
and overall general citizen engagement, but the mere fact that we’re here I think is very
encouraging and I think we should all take that into account. Schwab: Yes, Carmina. Mancenon: Yes, thank you very much for your
words. It was very inspiring. And also I think that youth involvement is a crucial aspect
of today’s generation – to actually involve ourselves from the very beginning,
not when we’re 15 or 16, but starting from when we are able to form decisions, because
ultimately it is our generation that will be left with the consequences. So I think
that it’s not only about getting our voices out there, but it’s also working together
to make this happen, being able to bridge the gap between your generation and our generation,
I think, is really important. Schwab: Tshepiso. Gower: Well, I think that it all boils down
to respect. If you respect the entities around you, you will see their worth. You will be
aware of their worth and then in the context of decision making, you will then involve
them. That is where the issue of youth involvement comes in. And the issue of youth involvement
is just a microcosm of the bigger picture: if you take it up into the more international
and global platforms, the involvement of third-world countries. So essentially, I think it boils
down to that overall inclusion of all the stakeholders. Schwab: Your Grace, do you want to take it
on? Williams: I’m glad the word ‘respect’ has
been used here, because I think that’s very closely connected to what I was feeling for
in talking about valuing the humanity that’s here and now, including ourselves, respect
for ourselves, which is a pivotal thing in, you know, educating us in respect for each
other. And that depends, in turn, on feeling we are treated with attention, with reverence
– I’d go even further than saying respect but reverence – for the extraordinary
quality of the humanity that is ours. But I think I’d want to say something also
in framing this more widely, something about how we conceive education itself as working.
And I think more and more we’re in a cultural situation where education needs to find its
soul again. In lots of developed societies, education seems to have become more mechanical,
more anxious, more driven, and it’s about again getting results quickly. And it’s become
less about enlarging the imagination of what can be done and who we might be. And I was
thinking a couple of days ago – again in the context of meetings I’ve been at –
I was thinking of how we understand what economic education might involve. Is it simply a matter
of looking at figures and learning how to use statistics and looking at the histories
of national economies, or is it also about encouraging young people in education to get
some experience, let’s say, of a micro credit programme, to get some contact through email,
through electronic communication, some contact with those who are seeking to make a difference
at the levels you’re working at in other parts of the world. Is economic education global
enough and active enough? What could be done there? I’m just fascinated to think what the
possibilities could be on that front. Schwab: So just one question, Your Grace,
which intrigues me. You defined being responsible in the present and you took as a reference
point the future of humanity. Now, my question. You used once the word ‘soul’. My question
is, ‘Is there some transcendental force behind it? Do you imply it in your definition of
humanity?’ And before you give an answer, we have a multi cultural group of young people
and it would be very interesting to hear from some, if they think of humanity. Do you think
also of some transcendental force behind humanity? And I may ask this question because it’s Sunday
morning. Williams: And since I’m not getting a chance
to preach anywhere else this morning, this is my opportunity I take it! Schwab: Let’s first maybe see the young people.
How do you feel? Is there something else? Is it just humanity? Or what drives you? Yes. Brites: From my very personal point of view,
the fact that I don’t believe in something that transcends us all is what made me have
my activism and my social approach, because I realized that it doesn’t matter what we
learn, but what we grow to be, and what we grow to be depends mainly on us and the other
humanity. And if I asked many times myself the question that, ‘If there was someone who
transcends us all, why would there have been so many problems?’ The world would be so hard
to – there wouldn’t be so many problems and so many issues to address. And that’s
what we all six activists are trying to address. Schwab: Yes, please, Mousa. Musa: Well, for me, I do believe in a force.
The fact of the matter is, for me, it’s a matter of faith. We have to have faith in
something. In a place where faith does not exist much in one another, we have to have
faith in people and we have to have faith in a force, in a transcendental force. If
we don’t know or don’t agree on how to approach that matter, let’s just treat each other with
respect, as Tshepiso said. Let’s treat each other as a moral guidance, as a set of principles,
following a set of principles. Let’s treat each other, the people we live with, let’s
treat them in a good way, in a moral manner. And that’s how it makes us really human beings;
it’s that we work with each other. And I think, it there is a transcendental force, this is
the basis of all religions – basic human interaction. And that is what we should
base it on. Schwab: Sarah? Jameel: I believe that this force or faith
as you call it is individualistic. It’s something that you believe within yourself. It’s something
within your soul and it’s something that you stand for, but that should not by any means
hinder what other people believe in. And it’s using those different – using the diversity
that you get, whether you are a Christian, whether you are a Muslim, whether you are
a Jew. That is not what humanity’s based upon. What it’s based upon is the fundamentals of
humanity – as you said, being able to respect others, being able to empathize
with others, if there is a crisis. And I think using all these different forces to create
a mosaic of diversity, that is what real humanity is about and what we should strive for, for
the future. Schwab: Nishin? Nathwani: I just want to bring up the point
as well that I think collective humanity is itself a transcendental force. I think that
the power of working together and, like you said, respect and fundamental human values,
when they’re applied in a broad context beyond just your personal initiative, that in itself
becomes a transcendental force. And I think all of the limits of progress right now –
war, division, etc. – can be transcended by the nature of the collective. And I think
that it comes back to realizing within yourself the values that you wish to establish in the
world. And the catchy term ‘critical mass’, I believe, has a lot of truth in it. I believe
that when each individual person in themselves takes the initiative to awaken these values
and to awaken that will, whether it be a belief in a tree or a god or anything else, to take
that initiative, to find the willpower to act in a motivation, and when a critical mass
achieves that, that individual strength, together that is a transcendental force. Schwab: Tshepiso? Gower: Well, I think that, you know, all is
well and good and I appreciate your opinions, but I think we must not delude ourselves to
the fact that as human beings we are inherently wired to believe in cause and effect. We all
need explanations for why things happen, that’s just the way it is, so I think what we really
should focus on is just a higher sense of awareness to the fact that we do need something
to believe in. It’s better to know that as a human being you need explanations and you
need justifications that for you to be at that point where you’re groping in the dark,
saying, ‘What can I believe in?’ I think it’s better to have an awareness of that higher
level, to say, ‘Okay, I understand how I’m wired.’ Schwab: Carmina? Mancenon: Yes, I also believe that besides
all the points that were mentioned, what really drives our activism and our fulfilment in
social entrepreneurship is actually fulfilling our promises. Because it’s one thing to say
to a person, to a teenager and see their face light up when you say that, ‘Okay, we’re going
to give you a house soon, you’ll have a home,’ but then it’s different when you actually
act upon it and make your words not just promises, but make it into action, because action is
really what drives the human race and I think that that’s what our society should be based
on, and not just words. Schwab: One last word before – Nathwani: Sure, I just want to say to build
off what Carmina said, of course we’re talking about these abstract concepts like respect
and love, etc., but I think that these are all ideals and I think the nature of the World
Economic Forum and venues such as this is to contemplate the nature of these ideals,
the purity of the ideal, sustainability, global peace, etc., but we must never forget that
in contemplating the ideals, the eventual goal is to turn them into action, and I think
we fail to bridge those two because we fail to acknowledge what bridges those two, and
that, to me, is persistence, and fearless persistence, the ability to overcome obstacles
and never compromise our principles in pursuit of those highest ideals. Schwab: Your Grace, how do you now define
– I mean, we have here on the one hand the present, humanity and the transcendent.
How does it relate each to another? Williams: Perhaps I could come back on one
or two of the observations that have been made about the transcendent. I don’t myself
see God as the supernatural problem-solver that we call on to get us off the hook. I
prefer to see God – well, I don’t say I prefer to see God, I believe in a God who
has created us to reflect and to share God’s own creative freedom, so action is built into
that belief. We’re made to demonstrate what the energy that made the universe is like.
For me as a Christian, that’s an energy of self-sharing love. That’s what’s fundamental
for every imaginable reality, and that’s therefore what I must live out of and what I need to
show, to manifest, to make flesh in my own life, and I stick to that belief because,
I guess, I’m perhaps a little less optimistic than some of you about how easy it is to go
on nurturing the sense of human value and human respect without that framework. There
have been societies in the last 100 years in which humanity has been systematically
ground down by tyranny and injustice, by ideologies that write off millions of people. Quite literally.
In a society like that, and God forbid we find ourselves in such a situation again,
but in societies like that one of the things that crucially, centrally keeps alive an uncompromising
commitment to human value is the belief that every other human being is the object of an
unflinching, unchanging love which doesn’t depend on me, but is just there, it’s in the
universe. God looks at each one with that intense white heat of loving attention, and
therefore when I look at them, I see someone who is precious in the eyes of God, and nothing
can change that, whatever the government says, whatever the system says, whatever the circumstances
say, that value is just there, built-in, and because that’s not an absolutely self-evident
thing in the human world, because throughout the ages and even now millions of people still
live as if other people’s lives didn’t matter, and can be seduced into that inhuman way of
thinking and feeling, I believe that religious faith remains a key to the, if I can say this,
the humanist values we all share. Schwab: Let’s end our Annual Meeting with
those words and let’s take them to our hearts, and I will express our gratitude for all those
young voices. I think it gives us a lot of optimism listening to you. If this is the
future, we can be very confident about the future, and I would like to thank the Most
Reverend Dr Williams very much for having come here because, as he mentioned, you had
to make a special effort to join us from New York, to be this morning with us. Give them
a big clap. We are coming to the end of the Annual Meeting.
I would like to thank you. You have been marvellously engaged, committed; I think those were five
great days. We didn’t solve all the problems in the world, but I think we demonstrated
very much that we are a human, global community and I think this is the key if you speak about
respect. We showed a lot of respect despite the fact that each one is – despite
the fact that we came from different stakeholder groups, from different ages, from different
cultures, so it’s a good sign for the world as such. I could thank so many people, over
1,000 people who worked for you during the last days. I would like to single out only
one person, because he really was behind of all the programmes, sessions and so on, and
it’s Lee Howell who was responsible for this Annual Meeting programme, but there are many
others. Here he is. Lee. Your Grace, thank you again, and dear members,
see you again at the latest in a year from now. And don’t forget what the young people
said: it’s action which shows our real commitment. Thank you.

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2 Comments

  1. We need an Equal Money System. The current capitalist system is based on constant growth. Economic growth is not infinite.

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