World Economic Forum discusses COVID-19 challenges, proposes actions to address

Doaa A.Moneim , Tuesday 26 Jan 2021

In its second day, the WEF hosted President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel

World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) listed through its participants the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on all economies since 2020 and going forward, proposing number of actions and policies that can be adopted to handle the pandemic’s severe impacts.

The WEF’s second day witnessed special speeches addressed by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel.

On his side, President Macron urged companies to play an active role in fighting inequalities within society and also take responsibility for mitigating the impact on climate change.

He added that his country has lost over 73,000 lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than Spain, Italy, and Germany.

“More than 1 million people have been vaccinated in France but, unlike many of its European neighbours, the country is currently not in a national lockdown,” said the president.

He added that the economy of tomorrow needs to think of innovation and humanity and has to build competitiveness alongside climate considerations, stressing that capitalism has resulted in stark inequalities.

In her speech, Merkel asserted the importance of multilateralism to deal with the severe challenges imposed by the ongoing crisis, saying that “this is the hour of multilateralism,” adding that there is an imperative need to address the weaknesses the pandemic has caused to the global economy and overcome them.

“If we want to have multilateral agreements, common standards have to be put down regarding conditions of work and the environment. We have to be very fast at finding new answers to digitalisation. We need to address global monopolies, but going it alone won't suffice to address them,” said Merkel.

Merkel also called for greater transparency, adding that it's a very good message that the US, under the newly elected President Joe Biden, wants to be involved in the work of the World Health Organisation.

Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat, represented Egypt in the event.

In her speech, Al-Mashat said that 34 projects in Egypt, worth $3.3 billion, are being executed to achieve the targets of gender equality, with the top targeted sectors including Health at 20 percent funding; Education at 14 percent; and Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises at 15 percent.

She added that the ministry’s current portfolio of projects that exclusively target the fifth goal of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) include 13 projects amounting to $82 million, along with the other projects in the portfolio that achieve the same goal as a collateral effect to their development.

“In 2020, the ministry also secured additional financing dedicated to SDG 5, with a total of $7 million through bilateral cooperation with Spain and Canada,” said the minister.

During the event, Al-Mashat noted that the pandemic has demonstrated that no institution or individual alone can address the economic, environmental, social, and technological challenges the world is currently facing.

During the event, John J. Haley, chief executive officer at Willis Towers Watson, said that COVID-19 has made resilience a top priority for CEOs and their management team.

“In the past, it was just a cost, increasingly it’s going to be looked at as an asset. We're going to have to build a flexible and agile organisation that can respond to these things, and climate change is chief among these large-scale risks,” according to Haley.

Mario Greco, chief executive officer of Zurich Insurance Group, listed the challenges the insurance business focuses on in a bid to create solutions that deal with the climate issue, the future of work, and cybersecurity.

“COVID-19 has shown we cannot outsource solutions to governments, but neither can the private sector solve this alone, as it does not have the resources or capacity to do so. The model of working together should be used in the future,” Greco expounded.

Under the theme “A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust”, the Davos Agenda, a virtual event running from January 25 to 29, convened 1,500 global leaders to shape principles, policies, and partnerships in this new context.

The event is hosting leaders from 430 cities across the world to bring innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next couple of years. 

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