This special bookazine edition looks at key takeaways from five themes as covered at the most recent World Economic Forum meetings in Davos: the future of health, saving the planet, future of society, fairer economies, and beyond geopolitics.
1. Future of Health
Global healthcare spending has increased dramatically over the past decade. Issues previously relegated to the privacy of a doctor's consultation room have now been destigmatized. Loneliness, workplace stress, grief, depression, anxiety—these are just some of the mental health issues that stakeholders are beginning to recognize as major problems, but physical ailments are also part of the problem. Medical science has made already huge leaps, and now technology promises the "precision medicine" dream once featured in science fiction books and films. How do we identify and solve major healthcare challenges while ensuring fair access for all?
Modern technology is allowing humans to play with the very building blocks of life. Davos 2020 highlighted several ways we can change the world around us to create healthier futures.
2. Saving the Planet
The Earth is getting hotter, polar ice is melting, the oceans are rising, and they're filling up with plastic. We're losing species, building up greenhouse gases, and running out of time. It's easy to feel downhearted, yet there are so many reasons for hope. The watchword is 'sustainable' and it's being applied to every area of human activity—energy, food, clothing, travel, cities—you name it. But even if everything were 100 percent sustainable, there'd still be work to do to repair the damage we've done. Where should we start?
As the world moves into a 4th industrial revolution, a shadow looms over our future. Climate change is an existential threat greater than that posed by any geopolitical rival. It does not discriminate between nations, instead targeting our entire species.
3. Future of Society
Anyone with a mobile phone can access the course material for a Harvard degree, take part in the 'gig economy' or find funding for their new venture. That's a profound and very recent change. Technologies underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution are disrupting our economic and social lives, but they are also helping us to adapt. Yet left to market forces alone, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will usher in a long and damaging period of dislocation. We can see it coming. We know we're going to have to reskill. What are we going to do about it?
4. Fairer Economies
Since World War II, the average life expectancy across the globe has risen by 30 years, as access to healthcare and education has helped lift billions out of poverty. Over the same period many states are suffering increasing wealth inequality, reversals of social mobility, and an undermining of social cohesion. Now there are fears new technology will make things worse. How can we reshape economies so the benefits of growth benefit the many rather than the few and thereby ensure that the extraordinary engine of human development we built is made sustainable?
5. Beyond Geopolitics
There are 193 UN-recognized states, a proliferation of regional power centers, and one increasingly obvious fact binding us all together—all the inhabitants of Earth are facing shared, existential challenges. The good news: when we put our minds to it, we can really get our international act together. Think of when we reversed the depletion of the ozone layer, or when we struck the Paris Accord to limit climate change. The not so good news: the scale of the challenges we face demands many more success stories in a short period of time. As a global community we need to move from geopolitics and international competition to a default of close global collaboration. Stats are going to have to change.