Report for World Economic Forum annual meeting 2017

2 Feb 2017 01:00h

Event report

The 47th WEF Annual Meeting, which took place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on 17‒20 January, brought together leaders from across business, government, international organisations, academia, and civil society, to discuss several digital policy issues.

The future of the digital economy was an overarching theme for many sessions, exploring aspects such as the digital transformation of industries, the fourth industrial revolution and its implications (in areas such as gender equality and jobs), steps for shaping national digital strategies, the need for shared norms and rules for the digital economy, and trust-based collaboration among stakeholders. Security and crime in the digital era were part of the discussions, with a focus on multistakeholder approaches for tackling cybercrime, the cyber resilience of critical infrastructures, cyberwar and forms of manifestation, and terrorism in the digital age. During the meeting, WEF launched a report on Advancing Cyber Resilience: Principles and Tools for Boards. Prepared in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group and Hewlett Packard Enterprises, the report outlines a series of principles and tools for companies to tackle cybersecurity risks and ensure the resilience of their information infrastructures.

The advancements in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) were also looked at during this year’s WEF meeting, as participants explored policy implications and outlined the need for principles and standards to ensure that IoT and AI products bring benefits to society as a whole, while minimising the risks (in areas such as social inclusion, privacy, and security). Trustworthy online information, a topic that has attracted a lot of attention lately, was also discussed, with a focus on possible modalities for balancing freedom of expression with the need to educate users on how to differentiate between real and misinformation.

In addition to contributing thir views to these and many other discussion tracks, WEF participants used the meeting as an opportunity to launch new initiatives and agree on future actions. In one such example, major financial service providers (e.g. Mastercard, Visa, and Paypal), global IT and telecom companies (e.g. Ericsson and GSMA), and intergovernmental organisations (e.g. the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) agreed on six principles on public-private cooperation aimed at facilitating digital cash payments in crisis-affected populations.

As has been the case at many other high-level events recently, the Agenda for Sustainable Development also featured high in Davos. On a more general level, world leaders discussed the challenges of globalisation and the increasing anti-globalisation trends. Many of the debates revolved around the need to identify modalities for reforming the governance of globalisation processes, with a view to improving them and making them better suited to contribute to global growth and development.