WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CURRENT GLOBAL ISSUES – THE WEF EDITION

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CURRENT GLOBAL ISSUES – THE WEF EDITION

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CURRENT GLOBAL ISSUES – THE WEF EDITION

February 8, 2018

BY ARSHAE AHMED

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2018

With its mission to improve the condition of the world through the involvement of personalities from academics, business, politics, economists, celebrities, journalists just to name a few, World Economic Forum left no stone unturned to discuss the agendas in a concentration of industries as well as globally and regionally at Davos, Switzerland. While the discussions ranged from the imminent catastrophes we may be hit with – to the importance of tackling mental health issues – to the horrifying shape AI can take, there were a few takeaways that anyone concerned with the world’s leading issues just can’t ignore.

IS A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER ABOUT TO BE INTRODUCED?
According to the very well-known global mental health issues expert Pamela Collins, people with mental health issues seemingly lack a proper treatment. According to Kaiser Permanente’s very own study, it is evident that mental health issues are not even recognized in most cases. The CEO of KP said in a panel discussion that almost a third of the patients that show up with a physical health problem, show mental health issues as an underlying cause. This lack of recognition of mental health issues when combined with age related disorders may give the worldwide healthcare systems quite the burden to deal with. The discussions on mental health focused heavily on the recognition of it, the understanding of it, and the lack of funding for it as well as deficiency of proper treatment.

BITCOIN MAY NOT BE THE FUTURE
While the world may not carry notes and coins forever, when it came to cryptocurrencies, quite a number of statements were made disagreeing to Bitcoin being the future of currency. While Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Shiller called Bitcoin nothing more than an “interesting experiment” regardless of how impressed he was with the technology of it. The Deputy Governor of the Swedish Central Bank, Cecilia Skingsley seemed to be in agreement with him expressing her negative views towards Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general because of a lack of stability in exchange rate and value storage. Nonetheless, the panel also showcased a number of Bitcoin supporters including Neil Rimer, the co-founder of Index Ventures SA, who believes it was one of the boldest inventions he has ever witnessed.

AI COULD BE THE GREATEST THING EVER CREATED
Speaking in a tone quite opposite to that of Professor Stephen Hawking, who has been vocal about his belief in AI’s ability to practically clean out the humankind, Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO stated that he believes that Artificial Intelligence will not only save human species but also claimed it to be more important than fire or electricity. His belief came from technology’s evident ability to help annihilate some of the world’s most pressing problems. However, Pichai did not turn a blind eye to the risks AI also imposes, urging the international community to demilitarize AI in order to reap the benefits to the fullest while reducing threats.

WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE PEOPLE?
With absolutely no middle ground, we will see “the biggest trade war” where the world will either be at its best or its angriest, according to the CEO of Siemens, Joe Kaeser. His concern is plain, simple and possibly on the most vital ones; what would the current workers of the world do who are millions in number, when they’re jobs are taken over by AI and all things digital?

TIME IS UP!
Sexual harassment in the workplace has been one the burning issues globally for the past few months, something Canada’s beloved Prime Minister heavily emphasized on in his speech. Calling it a “systemic problem” Trudeau urged the leaders of workplaces to take the complaints filed on harassment allegations seriously because it is time to listen and believe the women who are speaking up.

Trudeau’s speech was solely focused on putting women first starting from hiring to promoting to retaining. His urge to world leaders to hire more women at work was backed by the evidence presented that showed that by narrowing the gender gap in Canada, by 2026 the economy could add up to 150 billion dollars. The best part about his time spent on the podium wasn’t the fact that he was speaking for women’s rights just by urging world leaders to step up but also brought a list of things that can be done to make the lives of these women easier. His solution ranged from better parental leave policies to equal rate of employment to creating proper caregiver program just to name a few.

There is a reason Justin Trudeau is one of the most loved icons of our time. And now you know why!

TWO IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS – EDUCATION AND MEN
Malala Yousafzai did not hold back when talking about the roles men play in establishing equality. Having her own father as a role model who was challenging the society he was living in as well as its norms and taboos, Yousafzai emphasized heavily on the importance of men’s recognition of women as equals and take action. Always an advocate for female education, she took the stage to remind the world that education of girls would require a collective effort simply because while the privileged have no shortage of knowledge on the importance of education, the rest of the world does and so it is the job of everyone who is active and aware to remind them of it.

That is not where she stopped, however. She took the platform to emphasize on women being allowed to make their own decisions. No man is to decide how a woman should dress, how she should talk, how she should walk or talk or even where she should work. No one but a woman is to make her very own decisions.

EQUALITY IMPROVES THE ECONOMY
The economic studies conducted in countries like Bangladesh, Canada, Ethiopia to name a few showed that women seem to dedicate the household budget towards health, nutrition and education in comparison to men. It has been talked multiple times at WEF how the empowerment of women for the betterment of the global economy could see a 28 trillion dollar growth by 2025. It has been proven and heavily talked about in the panels how the a better condition of gender equality in societies help countries grow faster where development is seen in innovation, sustainability, reduction of poverty to name a few of the many. In fact, the World Bank disclosed that Latin America as well as the Caribbean saw a 30% reduction in poverty with the contribution of female labor. While questions may be raised about involving women in the export sector since the number of women seen in that area is visibly low, it has been found that it is not because women aren’t capable of exporting but because they are not given the required access to finance, technology and information which is a barrier needed to overcome for global economic growth.

CATASTROPHES TO FEAR
With environmental condition topping the list as the number one thing to fear, cybersecurity and climate change also made the list where even meddling in elections found its own place. A mass amount of destruction is expected from natural disasters as well as an increase in cyberattacks and data fraud. Man-made environment disasters are expected to create a massive amount of food shortage while climate change causes water crises.

NOTHING TRUMPS AMERICA
Trump’s speech to a crowd he has actively claimed to despise in the past was nothing but full of anticipation at Davos. While the speech was expected to contain elements of clash of nations, establishment of barriers or walls as Trump likes to call them in terms of trade and immigration, with a hate towards the media that he believes serves fake news, it was not quite entirely like that. The world’s most powerful man was somehow able to showcase a rare bit of togetherness, speaking in a way where America was first without a doubt but with the other countries as partners. Donald Trump was quick to address his contribution that depict an addition of 7 trillion dollars in the stock market, a massive creation of 2.4 million jobs and a new low in unemployment. Although the attendees were informed of an idea of “America First” which did not necessarily translate into “America Alone”, he was quick to stress on the measures he’s taking to change the immigration system. Keeping his advocacy for business intact, Trump made the world aware the opportunities to do business in America at the moment, especially with the tax changes recently made. Maybe, this was his way of showing the world that he doesn’t mind globalization as long as America is put first. Which is ironic considering he did tell the other leaders of the world to be smart and put the interests of their own countries first. And well, globalization does not in any way happen without political support. So, if Trump thought this speech would be an easy move for business, he was probably very wrong.

While the WEF addressed the most pressing issues that needed to be talked about where concerns ranging from the industrial revolution to the climate change was discussed, Trump’s speech could have quite possibly revealed that at the end of the day, it’s all about business with the investors and businessmen taking turns in multiplying their wealth. If we go by Trump’s words that portray an idea of the world that improves only when the big companies improve will not help in meeting the challenges faces by the world every day, be it women’s rights or climate change. Will the World Economic Forum’s efforts go in vain if those with power only seek to multiply that power?

*Photos used in this article are collected from the official website of World Economic Forum

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