The Curiosity of Davos. What are the Answers and Why Should We Care? THE NEW GLOBAL CONTEXT of UNCERTAINTY.
It’s about dialogue. It’s about action. It’s about Davos.
I’ve been intrigued with Davos ever since a filmmaker I knew from the Sundance Film Festival learned that his film was being discussed there. Sure, a rather triangulated way to enter the world of the World Economic Forum, especially for this NPR junkie, who was more likely to follow along on All Things Considered. I eventually learned more about this storied forum, and such grew my interest, and this article, which is less about Davos and more about curiosity. I’m curious. I’m creatively minded. I’m a creatively minded curiosity seeker. I’m also one of those connector types, and I get a spark out of being a conduit for connecting people. I’d love to attend Davos 2016 and get a birds-eye view of the who, what, why, when and where of it all, up close and personal. Wouldn’t it be great to be a witness and participate in this pivotal event? It’s not hard to imagine that Davos would, could, or should be a catalyst for fixing the world’s many ills and I’m interested in seeing how the puzzle pieces fit together to impact the world in a positive way. That’s what intrigues me, the very recipe for how placing all of these intellects and influencers together for a mere few days transforms into tangible, actionable, positive, peaceful and powerful results. As a person whose lifework is to make a difference, I look at Davos as an incubator for taking that mission to market, and seeing how it might affect the wider world. Collectively or individually, the who’s who of heads of state, world leaders, acclaimed scientists, and tech giants from the outside looking in is something to behold at Davos, with seemingly endless possibilities for joining many minds for the greater good.
In a world of wonder, I wonder what greatness has happened there this year, over a cappuccino or cocktail conversation, before and after the hundreds of forum sessions, and further, I wonder what will happen exponentially as a result. I’m inquisitive. I wonder what world changes and innovations might occur as a result of Davos, vs. what ideas will be brought to the table, only to be tabled till another day. I wonder what great minds have converged at Davos, and how the convergence itself does or doesn’t create the spark for change. I wonder how the brainwaves of these many thought leaders are connecting, with synapses and neurons ebbing and flowing all over the place. I wonder what would happen if Davos chose to invite completely random people from all walks of life around the world. (Well, in a way they already do, with their open forum.) All in all, Davos inspires a creative curiosity from the outside looking in, from afar, and from up close, via the 125 live sessions that are viewable online. It’s a surreal combination of feeling involved with the pulse of this earth-changing and awe-inspiring global meeting of leaders, and being far removed, like being in the nose-bleed seats of the best concert of your life.
A special address was given on the first day of the Forum by the President of the Swiss Confederation and Minister of Justice and Police, Simonetta Sommaruga, who said if she had to describe this year’s theme of “the new global context” in one word, it would be “uncertainty”. That got me thinking. When I hear the word uncertainty, I think fear. Not my own fear per se, but how the word fear is often associated with the word uncertainty. They go hand in hand. What will happen tomorrow? Nobody knows. There is a lot of cynicism and polarization in the world today, as well as a refreshing set of young innovators and great thinkers with plenty of compassion, know-how, and drive, to change the world for the better. So what do we do with uncertainty? Is it worth it to look at it clearly and with focus, toward facing it as is, and feeding on the fear of the uncertainty? Or is it better to face it by countering with the CERTAINTIES that we know we have in our favor. The certainty of a good amount of the world population who are committed to peaceful co-existence. The certainty that the leaders attending Davos share the commitment of the mission of the World Economic Forum, “to improve the state of the world”. The certainty that raising a pen in a sea of millions CAN be the swords into plowshares that are the catalyst for peaceful protest toward a peaceful world. Is it idealistic? Perhaps. Is it too far-fetched? I don’t think so. Good vs. evil will linger far beyond any of our lives, but planting the seeds of positive change will long outlast the poisonous weeds.
It’s the 45th year of the World Economic Forum in Davos, with over 250 sessions, 1500 leaders from over 100 countries, more than 40 heads of state, 25 sectors, 14 Nobel laureates, and 17% of participants are women. Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab spoke at the pre-forum press conference about being at a “crossroads” in the world, with two possible directions, hate and fundamentalism, or a world of solidarity and cooperation. He built on the latter during welcoming remarks when he spoke about the assembly being a great example of collaboration, and the importance of restoring trust, “the most precious good” in the world “We have to show the world that we are trustworthy” he said, “and the best way to do it is to respond to the needs of those who have entrusted us with leadership responsibility. We have a great obligation, to look not only after our own interests, but to engage, and to make sure that this meeting is at the beginning of a renaissance of trust in the world.”
From its earliest years, the World Economic Forum has brought together leaders and experts in business, government, civil society, science, technology, and academia, including young leaders, women, and global shapers, focusing on the biggest challenges in the world, namely human rights, climate crisis, disease, economic interests, terrorism, and more. There has been great impact as a result, in the political and socio-economic arena around the globe, providing peacebuilding in many regions, and a channel for global initiatives.
This is a conversation, with no absolutes, and there are plenty of Davos cynics too, but I prefer to focus on the positive possibilities that can occur there and beyond. There is a lot to be uncertain about in the world, with a crisis seemingly at every turn. But the certainty we DO have are the values that are inherent at Davos and integral to their mission. Call it simplistic, but I can’t help but believe that the vast numbers of people working to do good will override the vast numbers of people working to do evil. Who am I to want to go to Davos 2016? I’m a citizen of this world. I’m a citizen who wants to make a difference. I’m but one person, looking at the world’s questions, and grateful that there are people of sound mind willing to dialogue together to find answers.
Long live curiosity. Long live dialogue. Long live questions. Long live answers. Long live Davos.