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Highlights of WEF’s Virtual ‘The Davos Agenda 2021’ 

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World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda Summit 2021The 51st Edition of 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting called ‘The Davos Agenda 2021’  took place virtually from January 25-29, 2021.

  • Theme of Davos Agenda – ‘A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust
  • Around 1, 500 Business, Government & Civil Society Leaders from 70 countries participated in the Meeting.
  • Heads of  State & Government like Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India;Xi Jinping, President of China & others participated in the meeting.
  • Several leaders from International Organizations, Government agencies & Central banks participated in the Davos Agenda 2021.

Key Points from PM Narendra Modi’s Address:

i.Prime Minister’s (PM) address in the WEF forum focussed on the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution-using technology for the good of humanity’.

ii.India working on all 4 factors of Industry 4.0 – Connectivity, Automation, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning & real-time data.

iii.Utilization of Digital Infrastructure in India for various fields like Dissemination of Financial funds, Healthcare & peer-to-peer transaction.

  • Indians transferred around 4 Trillion Rupees through UPI (Unified Payments Interface) in December, 2020.
  • Government transferred 1.8 Trillion rupees Assistance through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to the accounts of 760 Million Indians during the Pandemic.
  • Use of Digital Infrastructure under National Digital Health mission for improving access to health care through distribution of Health IDs.

iv.He invited Global Companies to leverage the 26 Billion Dollars Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme introduced by the Government for boosting investments.

  • Infrastructure Projects worth 1.5 Trillion USD are to be completed in India in the next five years under the National Infrastructure pipeline.

v.India has committed to develop sustainable urbanization with focus on ease of living, ease of doing business & climate sensitive development.

  • In order to fulfill this commitment, the Government has invested around 150 Billion Dollars in Urban India during the period 2014-20.

Key Points from Harsh Vardhan’s Address:

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare addressed the WEF on Restoring Cross Border Mobility hosted by WEF’s Common Trust Network.

The discussions were focussed on policies, practices and partnerships needed for reopening borders to resume travel, tourism and commerce in a safe and sustainable way.

  • Harsh Vardhan stated the need for Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for easing the operations of International Contact Tracing.
  • To ease Travel restrictions, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) & a few countries in Europe have proposed the idea of  ‘Immunity passports’/travel passes.
  • Harsh Vardhan stated that ‘Immunity passports’ must be based on equity and privacy and emphasized international acceptability of such frameworks.

USA rejoins the Paris Climate Accord:

During the WEF’s panel discussion on ‘Mobilizing Action on Climate Change’, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry stated that the US has re-joined the Paris Climate Accord to fulfill its goals under the deal.

  • The US  had quit the Paris Climate Accord in 2017.
  • On January 20, 2021 Newly Elected US President, Joe Biden signed an order for rejoining the US into the Paris Climate Accord.
  • The US is the 2nd Largest emitter of Greenhouse gases in the world followed by China.
  • The main goal of the Paris Climate Agreement is to keep Global Temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Key Launches:

WEF Launches Global AI Action Alliance (GAIA):

During the event, WEF launched the Global AI (Artificial Intelligence) Action Alliance (GAIA).

i.Objective – To Accelerate the adoption of Inclusive, Transparent & Trusted AI across the globe.

  • Around 100 companies, Governments & civil society organizations from across the world will work to identify and implement best tools and practices for the ethical use of AI.
  • A Steering Committee will be set up for guidance of the Alliance. It will be co-chaired by Arvind Krishna, Chairman & CEO of IBM, Vilas Dhar, President of Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

ii.By 2035, AI is expected to contribute over USD 14 Trillion to the Global Economy.

WEF launches EDISON Alliance to accelerate digital inclusion:

i.WEF launched the first-of-its-kind platform called ‘Essential Digital Infrastructure and Services Network’ – EDISON Alliance to reduce digital inequalities & ensure equitable access to digital opportunities for everyone by 2025.

ii.It is the 1st Global mobilization of public sector and industry leaders to ensure affordable and accessible digital opportunities for everyone.

  • In 2021, the Alliance will work towards increasing digital inclusion in healthcare, education and financial services.
  • The Alliance will be led by Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon & WEF will serve as the secretariat and platform for the alliance.
  • A wide group of Champions Leaders will support & advise the Alliance.

iii.Pandemic has exposed the inequalities and gaps in access to digital technologies across the world.

  • Around 50% of the World’s Population remain offline
  • 50% of the Population in developed countries find Broadband services as expensive
  • The connectivity gaps hampers access to health, education and economic inclusion.

10, 000 Innovators joint WEF’s UpLink Platform:

Around 10, 000 Innovators have joined a digital platform ‘UpLink’ created by WEF. ‘UpLink’ was launched at the WEF Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos, Switzerland.

  • It is a crowd-engagement platform, using which Innovators can develop solutions which will speeden up the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).
  • It has been created by WEF in partnership with Salesforce & Deloitte and will serve as a platform for connecting innovators and entrepreneurs.
  • At present, it is working with around 10, 000 users, over 900 solutions, 12 digital communities & 80 high-quality UpLink Innovators.

Infosys, TCS, Cognizant join WEF Coalition to tackle Workplace Racism:

Indian Information Technology Companies Infosys & TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) joined an International Coalition launched by WEF for tackling racism in workplaces.

i.Other companies which have already joined the coalition are Microsoft, Facebook, Google & Bank of America.

  • The first step of initiative will be Inclusion of Blacks & addressing anti-Blackness, only 1% of Fortune 500 companies are led by Black Chief Executives.
  • The founding members include 48 organizations from 13 Industries, 55 lakh  employees worldwide and headquarters in 3 continents.

ii.The coalition emphasizes companies to include racial and ethnic justice in their company’s agenda.

  • Taking 1 firm action & Developing a long-term strategy to become an anti-racist organization.
  • Allocation of financial and human resources for racial justice work
  • Setting representation goals for all seniority levels
  • Mentorship programme for racially & ethnically diverse employees.

WEF President Releases Book:

  • During the event, WEF’s President Schwab released a book titled ‘Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet’. It has been co-authored with Peter Vanham and published by Wiley.
  • The book argues for a Global Economy which works for progress, people and planet.
  • The book also reflects the shortcomings and achievements of the global economic system and suggests ways to improve it.

World Facing Existential Threats:

During the WEF Forum, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that the World is facing existential threats due to Climate Change & Biodiversity.

  • He also stated that the main objective for 2021 will be to build a Global Coalition for carbon neutrality.
  • He also urged all countries, cities, financial institutions to create goals for transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

World Food Program Chief warns about Vulnerable Supply Chains:

David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme stated the need for strengthening vulnerable supply chains for feeding populations in impoverished nations.

  • The Global pandemic has further increased the Global connectivity problems.
  • Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that his country will host a Global Coordination Center for regional ‘food innovations hubs’ established by WEF for tackling ‘food system challenges’.

About World Economic Forum (WEF):
Founder and Executive Chairman – Klaus Schwab
Headquarters – Cologny, Switzerland