It’s telling that a survey of Davos participants found that growing economic disparity is seen as one of the two biggest risks facing the world in the coming decade. In a piece previewing Davos, James Ledbetter, the editor of Reuters.com, describes the growing gulf between the world’s rich and poor as “not only immoral, but dangerous, as it can lead to open conflict between nations and internal political turmoil.”
Indeed, today, a country’s internal economic health is as much a national security issue as the size and quality of a country’s army was in the 20th century. The solution, according to Schwab, is an embrace of “basic values and shared norms” that can “guide the decision-making of leaders and help ensure inclusive rather than exclusive outcomes.”
As part of the push for inclusive outcomes, the forum is once again granting full access to a collection of social entrepreneurs from around the world. This is the 10th year the conference has offered a platform to what it considers “voices from the ground.” But there is something different this time around. In the past, social entrepreneurship and efforts at developing civil society were the Davos equivalent of icing on the banker/CEO/head-of-state cake. Now they are an essential ingredient, baked into the cake.
This shift stems from the growing sense, even among the elites, that our current political and economic systems are inadequate to the task of addressing the multiple crises the world is facing. As Schwab puts it, “One thing is certain: we can’t keep doing the same old thing in a new era that requires new responses.”