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Largest ‘Summer Davos’ Ever Aims to Boost Global Innovation

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Leaders participating in the 12th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, to be held in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 18-20 September, will be taking part in the largest ever World Economic Forum summit dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In total, the meeting will welcome over 2,000 top-level representatives from politics, business, civil society, academia and the arts from over 100 countries.

The theme of the meeting is Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Top of the agenda will be workshops on how the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a transformation powered by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and gene editing, is already impacting economies and societies as well as the geopolitical landscape.

Ways in which our world is being impacted by these technologies include the widespread deployment of industrial robots in the manufacturing sector, a rapid expansion in the use of artificial intelligence in business and scientific research, the dangerous concept of “dual-use” technologies, or technologies designed for civilian use that can easily be repurposed for military application.

In addition, the meeting will focus on the key geopolitical and geo-economic issues of today, including the latest developments in global trade, the rise of a “multi-conceptual” geopolitical system and the prospects for the global economy.

There will also be a strong focus on China’s rapid development, featuring top-level discussions on a range of topics including developments in the Belt and Road Initiative, the opening up of China’s financial markets and the country’s recent launch of the world’s largest carbon trading scheme.

Like all World Economic Forum meetings, the design of the programme is heavily weighted towards delivering outcomes, with over 100 working sessions in the programme enabling participants to reach consensus, design policies and build partnerships aimed either at exploiting or mitigating the impacts of the wave of transformation.

“Our world is going through one of the most profound shifts in human history. We are only at the beginning of this transformation, yet we know it holds immense promise and challenges for our future. The purpose of designing an international summit that is dedicated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus the minds of our leaders on how to harness this immense potential and make sure that the future we build is human-centred, sustainable and inclusive,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“From its home in China, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions has grown over 12 years to become the leading global event bringing leaders from government and business together with those from science and technology. I’m proud this year to be welcoming so many Chinese and international partners, many for the first time, as we look to find new ways for innovation to address our gravest challenges and to drive human and economic development,” said David Aikman, Chief Representative Officer, China, World Economic Forum.

“The year 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Driven by the new international dynamics and revolutionary technologies, China will advance reforms and innovation to push for quality economic development for a brighter future. In the meantime, China is an unwavering champion for globalization that will continue to open its door wider while joining hands with all stakeholders to preserve economic openness and inclusion. I’m looking forward to being inspired by visionary insights and technological trends shared at the forum regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will provide a great source of power for advancing China’s development and global wellbeing in this new era,” said Xia Qing, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation, NDRC.

“This year marks the 40th anniversary of ‘reform and opening-up’ in China, and the sixth Annual Meeting of the New Champions to be held in Tianjin. It is also an opportunity for Tianjin to realize the transition from high-speed growth to high-quality development. The meeting will not only introduce China’s achievements in deepening reform, extended open-up and cultural advancement but also provide the largest platform and the broadest development space to expand and enhance Tianjin’s competitiveness and influence,” said Zhao Haishan, Vice-Mayor, Tianjin Municipal Government.

Nearly 200 public figures from 42 countries will join the discussions in Tianjin. From China, these include: Wan Gang, President, Chinese Association for Science and Technology; Yi Gang, Governor, People’s Bank of China; Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology; Xiao Yaqing, Chairman, State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC); and Liu Kun, Minister of Finance.

International public figures representing G20 economies include: Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs of France; Dorothee Baer, State Minister for Digital Affairs of Germany; Nabeel M. Al-Amudi, Minister of Transport of Saudi Arabia; Jeff Radebe, Minister of Energy of South Africa; and Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, USA.

Four countries will be represented by heads of state or government. Meanwhile 38 countries will be represented by deputy heads of state, government or ministers. These include: Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of Bahrain; Mohammed Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment of Cuba; Kersti Kaljulaid, President of the Republic of Estonia; Raimonds Vejonis, President of Latvia; Mohammed Abdul Wahed Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education of Qatar; Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa; and Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting, who will take an active role in a number of sessions, are: Jay Flatley, Executive Chairman, Illumina, USA; Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University, Canada; Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, United Kingdom; Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and Rotating Chairman, Huawei Technologies, People’s Republic of China; Liu Jitao, China Communications Construction Company, People’s Republic of China; Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, European Commission; and Abi Ramanan, Chief Executive Officer, ImpactVision, UK.

Other key participants include: more than 1,500 business leaders including 500 founders and chief executive officers of the most exciting and innovative start-up companies, more than 50 Young Scientists, the new class of 2018 Technology Pioneers, and representatives from arts and culture, academia and the media. Representing the Forum’s communities are more than 300 Social Entrepreneurs, Global Shapers and Young Global Leaders.

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Environment

Discrimination in the air

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Nine out of 10 people globally breathe polluted air, causing about 7 million premature deaths every year. On 7 September 2020, the United Nations observed the first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. This article is part of UNEP’s continuing coverage of air pollution and its impact globally.

Over 40 per cent of the U.S. population – about 134 million people – face health risks resulting from air pollution, -according to the American Lung Association. The burden is far from evenly shared. Studies show that in the United States, people of color and low-income communities face a significantly higher risk of environmental health effects, highlighting that the impacts of air pollution are experienced unequally throughout the country.

People of color are more likely to live in areas affected by pollution and high road traffic density, increasing risks to their health. As prominent American environmental justice activist and leader Robert D. Bullard emphasizes, race and place matter.

For example, along the Mississippi River in the southern United States, there is an area with some of the worst air pollution in the country. In the stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge Louisiana, many people live right next to several high-polluting industrial plants. Residents, who are predominately Black, have seen significant cancer clusters, with cancer risks in the area reaching up to 50% more than the national average. In St. John the Baptist parish alone, an area of about 2 square miles, the cancer rate is about 800 times higher than the American average.

Similarly, New York City neighborhood Mott Haven, home to mainly LatinX and Black families, has a very high level of air pollution from traffic, warehouses, and industry.  Residents in Mott Haven face some of the highest rates of asthma cases and asthma-related hospitalizations in the country, especially among children.

Often, communities experiencing high levels of air pollution are among the most vulnerable, facing poor access to health services, limited economic opportunity, more polluted work environments and racial injustices.  Comprehensive policies are needed to address these interrelated challenges.

“There is a strong correlation between socioeconomic factors and risk of air pollution,” said Dr. Barbara Hendrie, Regional Director for UN Environment Programme North America. “Recognizing this, and the disproportionate impacts of air pollution throughout the United States is a critical part of developing effective solutions.”

On the first-ever International Day of Clean Air for blue skies in September, the UN Environment Programme called upon governments, corporations, to civil society and individuals, to take action to reduce air pollution and bring about transformative change.

Air pollution does not have to be a part of our collective future. We have the solutions and must take the necessary actions to address this environmental menace and provide #CleanAirForAll.

UN Environment

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ADB Helps Boost Philippine Military’s COVID-19 Testing Capacity

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has donated two coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing machines that can each test nearly 100 people per hour to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to support the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction testing machines will be installed in the Philippine Army Molecular Laboratory in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The laboratory will support the COVID-19 testing of AFP personnel in Metro Manila as they continue to play a key role in reducing the spread of the virus.

“ADB supports the Philippine government’s strategy to prevent and control COVID-19 by expanding testing, particularly in hardest-hit Metro Manila and surrounding provinces,” said ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Ramesh Subramaniam. “We have seen military personnel in action on the frontline from the beginning of the pandemic and we hope the new testing machines will help ensure the safety of AFP’s essential workers.”

For more than 7 months, the military has played a key role in implementing official COVID-19 control measures in the Philippines. They operate checkpoints, distribute food, and manage local quarantine regulations. The government is seeking to raise its daily COVID-19 testing capacity to about 50,000 by the end of the year, compared with nearly 31,000 as of 15 August.

Procurement of the testing machines, at $35,000 each, is part of ADB’s $5 million Rapid Emergency Supplies Provision Assistance to the Philippines, approved in March 2020. The program is known locally as Bayan Bayanihan. The program involved ADB working closely with AFP to urgently deliver emergency food assistance to around 162,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in April and May 2020. This innovative program successfully brought in additional resources from private and philanthropic organizations.

On 24 April, ADB approved a $1.5 billion loan to help the Philippine government fund its COVID-19 response program and strengthen the country’s health care system in its fight against the pandemic. Other support includes a $3 million grant on 14 March to build a pandemic laboratory in the Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga that can process 3,000 COVID-19 tests daily. Equipment for the new laboratory was airlifted by the Philippine Air Force from Shenzhen, the People’s Republic of China, in April at the height of the strictest lockdown in Metro Manila due to the pandemic.

On 27 April, ADB approved a $200 million loan to help the government provide emergency cash subsidies to vulnerable households amid the pandemic. A $125 million loan was approved by ADB on 25 August to help the Philippines improve health services across the country through medical equipment and supplies procurement, upgrade, and related training.

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Development

Tech-Driven Changes in Job Markets Threaten Social Contract with Workers

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“Technology has a major, if not the most important, role in shaping the future of work,” said C. Vijayakumar, President and Chief Executive Officer, HCL Technologies, on day two of the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit 2020.

In the next five years, machines will displace an estimated 85 million jobs but create around 97 million new jobs across 15 industries and 26 economies, according to the Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020. The global recession driven by COVID-19 has accelerated this trend and created a highly uncertain outlook for global labour markets.

“The fact that technologies potentially allow us to work anywhere, anytime sounds extraordinarily attractive,” said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). “But if it similarly would allow someone to tell me that I must work anywhere, anytime, regardless of my own choice, it’s somewhat less attractive.” Ryder added that the gig economy – as revealed by the pandemic – has created “extraordinary vulnerability in the world of work, not just in the developing world, but also “in the attics of Manhattan.” Freelancers are not clear about their employment status and can find themselves falling through the gaps of social protection systems. “The 21st-century employment model…looks a lot like the 19th century,” he said, adding: “it took us a century to build the institutions to put some decency into that business model.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, warned that “Internet-mediated platform jobs are absolutely breaking down wages and conditions.” Burrow called for a new social contract between workers, employers and governments to ensure that every working person enjoys an adequate minimum wage for a maximum number of hours worked, universal social protection and occupational health and safety as a fundamental right. She called for an end to employer impunity, with “mandated due diligence around workers and their rights”, including sufficient grievance procedures and remedies. Collective bargaining has collapsed, with 75% of people reporting that their incomes have stagnated or gone backwards since the late 1980s. Unless we rebuild those commitments, we won’t have a fair economy, said Burrow, concluding: “Flexibility doesn’t mean exploitative work.”

What is needed is massive investment in people, workplaces and jobs in growth industries. People need skilling and reskilling. In particular, governments and companies must “invest in social protection – the most effective lubricant of change,” according to Ryder. He pointed out that change has been bad for too many people, so they are more likely to embrace change if they are reassured they won’t fall through the cracks in the process. Meanwhile, workplaces need re-engineering, by which Ryder means better laws and regulations to protect workers. And more investment needs to go into areas with the greatest potential for job growth, including green technologies, the care economy, infrastructure and the rural economy.

Increasing public investment by 1% of GDP in advanced and developing economies would create up to 33 million new jobs, said Burrow, citing the International Monetary Fund. “We can double that by investing in care,” she added. Vijayakumar embraced the potential of low-carbon technologies, saying: “The 21st century will be marked by the sustainable economy – tech companies have a huge role to play to create these new jobs in the intersection of climate change and public services, as well as consumer products.”

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