Youth to play ambitious new role in "Great Reset" of the World Economic Forum - Davos 2021

More than 420 Hubs and 11,000 Global Shapers and Alumni to participate in Davos 2021 (credit: WEF)

“The Great Reset” will be the theme of a first-of-its-kind “Twin Summit” to be convened by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2021, announced Klaus Schwab, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman at an on-line press briefing Wednesday. Following the Covid-19 crisis, the 51st edition of the world’s most elite mass meeting will connect thousands of young people in more than 400 cities to WEF’s world movers and shakers through a powerful virtual network. Can this help WEF catalyze real action on the most urgent challenges of the next 50 years? Said Schwab:

“Covid-19 has shown us that our old system is not fit anymore for the 21st century. We have the choice to remain passive (…) or build a new social contract. In short, we neeed a great reset. We must not miss this window of opportunity.”

“The Great Reset” in four points

  • Opportunity to reinvent our world. “The Great Reset” is a commitment to jointly rebuild the foundations of our economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future. Says Schwab:

“We only have one planet and we know that climate change could be the next global disaster, with even more dramatic consequences for humankind. We have to decarbonize the economy in the short window still remaining and bring our thinking and behavior once more into harmony with nature.”

His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, in opening the virtual meeting said:

“If there is one critical lesson to learn from this crisis, it is that we need to put nature at the heart of how we operate. We simply can’t waste more time (…) Think big and act now.”

  • A new social contract, would be centered on human dignity, social justice and where social progress does not fall behind economic development. Of utmost importance - to bring private sector on board. Klaus Schwab:

“A Great Reset is necessary to build a new social contract that honors the dignity of every human being. The global health crisis has laid bare the unsustainability of our old system in terms of social cohesion, the lack of equal opportunities and inclusiveness. Nor can we turn our backs on the evils of racism and discrimination. We need to build into this new social contract our intergenerational responsibility to ensure that we live up to the expectations of young people.”

“COVID-19 has accelerated our transition into the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have to make sure that the new technologies in the digital, biological and physical world remain human-centered and serve society as a whole, providing everyone with fair access.”

  • Opportunity to move towards sustainable economies. The global health crisis triggered by Covid-19 has laid bare longstanding economic fault lines in our economies and societies between haves and havenots, exacerbating a crisis that urgently requires a response in the form of decent, meaningful jobs. António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations, in a statement from New York:

“The Great Reset is a welcome recognition that this human tragedy must be a wake-up call. We must build more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and the many other global changes we face.”

  • A Twin Summit. Reflecting the spirit of the” Great Reset”, the Twin Summit would be both in-person and virtual, driving youth as well as their elders to move beyond the boundaries of traditional thinking and be more forward-oriented. Thousands of young people in more than 400 cities -The Global Shapers community- will be interconnected with a powerful virtual hub network to interact with the leaders of Davos. It will be open to everyone. Klaus Schwab:

“This global pandemic has also demonstrated again how interconnected we are. We have to restore a functioning system of smart global cooperation structured to address the challenges of the next 50 years. We need a change of mindset, moving from short-term to long-term thinking, moving from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder responsibility. Environmental, social and good governance have to be a measured part of corporate and governmental accountability.”

  • International Monetary Fund and the private sector. The Great Reset can only happen if action is also taken to head off the worst consequences of the crisis in terms of - “more debt, deficits, unemployment and risk of more inequalities and poverty”, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. She called for a massive injection of fiscal stimulus in “favor of a greener, smarter and fairer world for the future”.

“For the funds, there are tremendous opportunities for green growth for the future. We can put in place public investments and incentives for private investment into low carbon and planet-resilient growth. Many of these investments can lead to job recovery: think of mangrove restoration, reforestation or [energy-efficient] building installations. I am particularly keen to take advantage of the low oil prices today to eliminate carbon subsidies and put in place carbon pricing as an incentive for the investments for the future.”

The annoucement of the Great Reset was supported by a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from the CEOs of Microsoft, British Petroleum (BP), Mastercard, Pact, and Atlantica Ventures to representatives of the International Trade Union Confederation, the China Society for Finance and Banking and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, among others.