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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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AfDB presents findings of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment

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The African Development Bank hosted a webinar to present the findings and recommendations of the Angola Green Mini-Grid Market Assessment report, implemented through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa.

The assessment was conducted with the technical assistance of Carbon Trust, in collaboration with the Government of Angola, and in consultation with key stakeholders such as development partners and private sector representatives. The report assesses key enabling factors required for large scale mini-grid development, as well as the overall potential of the mini-grid market in Angola, in alignment with the country’s energy sector development strategy.

The report estimates that 9.9 million people, representing 32% of Angola’s total population, and 47% of the non-electrified population, could be best served by mini-grid solutions. It also highlighted the regulatory gaps that exist in the mini-grid market, including insufficient incentives for private sector participation. Overall, the assessment recommends that addressing the gaps could unlock an estimated demand for mini-grids of approximately $252.5 million in Angola, based on the average annual electricity expenditure per capita, in rural areas.

The webinar held on 23 July 2020, provided a platform for over 100 participants to discuss opportunities and challenges relating to the development of green mini-grids in Angola, as well as enhanced coordination and partnerships towards the advancement of sustainable expansion of clean energy in the Southern African country.

Among participants were representatives of the government, from the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.  Development partners, private sector actors, and national and regional associations in the sector also took part.

In his opening remarks, the African Development Bank Country Manager for Angola, Joseph Ribeiro, noted that the energy sector plays a vital role in national efforts towards poverty reduction and sustainable socio-economic development, as per the country’s economic diversification agenda.

Angola’s National Director for Rural Electrification in the water and energy ministry, Serafim Silveira, underscored the importance of mini-grids to the government’s rural electrification objectives. The other speakers were Executive Director of the Lusophone Renewable Energy Association, Isabel Abreu, and the representative of the Establishment Committee of the Angolan Renewable Energies Association, Pedro Torres.

The Bank’s Division Manager for Renewable Energy, João Cunha, said the report will inform the design of technical assistance by the Bank to the Angolan government in preparation for the rollout of a mini-grid scale-up program

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Ten Years to Midnight: Four urgent global crises and their strategic solutions

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The world has 10 years to solve its urgent challenges or it will be too late. In his new book, TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions (August 4, 2020; Berret-Koehler), Blair Sheppard sets out why that timeline is so crucial, what the most urgent challenges are and the key elements of a solution.

He argues that the 70-year period of economic and social progress kicked off by the Marshall Plan has now unraveled. Instead of a steady story of progress, the world faces four crises:

  • A crisis of prosperity, with rising inequality, poor life choices for young people, the squeezed middle class and a mass of people on the brink of retirement but lacking the savings to sustain them;  
  • A crisis of technology, as our economic system drives innovation but fails to manage unintended negative consequences which pollute key elements of life support, from our atmosphere to our news;
  • A crisis of institutional legitimacy, as traditional institutions try to maintain their existing structures in the face of major global forces, and find themselves buckling and warping rather than adapting; and,
  • A crisis of leadership, as those who should help us manage these crises instead focus on narrow priorities rather than leading the world towards holistic solutions.

Drawing on new data and analysis conducted in Sheppard’s role as Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership for the PwC network, the author argues that businesses, governments and civil society should adopt a fundamentally different approach to the one that drove 20th Century economic development. He argues for greater emphasis on local economies (local first) as well as on scaling innovative solutions quickly (massive, fast), a fundamental reshaping of innovation policy to bake societal outcomes into technological development, greater use of public private partnerships with clear goals, and more inclusive measures of success.

Having worked with global leaders across a range of fields, Sheppard argues this change requires a new approach to leadership that embraces apparently contrasting elements – to be humanly and technologically savvy, heroic and humble, rooted in tradition as a ballast but also innovative.

The book began with a question: What are the world’s most pressing global concerns and how can they be solved together? What he and his team discovered is a new path to rebuilding and reinvigorating institutions, redefining what it means to be a nation or economy, forging shared cultural and social bonds, and rekindling innovation for social good instead of harm. To press these solutions forward as the clock ticks toward a global unwinding, Sheppard also calls for a new level of imagination, cooperation and urgency from the world’s leaders in every sector and every country.

For more information, please visit the book’s webpage.

Blair Sheppard is the Global Leader for Strategy and Leadership at PwC, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He is also the Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he taught  for thirty-three years. He was the principal force behind opening Duke’s campus in China, and the founder and CEO of Duke Corporate Education. He was born in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and lives in Durham, North Carolina (US).

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Global Top 100 companies bounce back from March 2020 lows but volatility remains elevated

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Global equity markets have seen a strong bounce back from the low points seen in March 2020, but volatility remains elevated, according to a new quarterly update to the Global Top 100 companies by market capitalisation rankings, released today by PwC.

The report notes that, most immediately, a disappointing reporting season for H1 2020 earnings could cause a re-evaluation of recession risks and associated stock valuations. 

Having decreased by 15% ($3,905bn) from December 2019 to March 2020, the market capitalisation of the Global Top 100 as at June 2020 was only 1% ($335bn) behind December 2019.

By comparison as at 30 June 2020 the MSCI World Index (representing large and mid-cap equity performance across 23 developed markets) was 7% behind December 2019, having recovered most of the ground lost in the first quarter of 2020. 

Ross Hunter, IPO Centre Leader at PwC, says,

‘With the significant volatility in financial markets, the world’s largest companies provide relative security for investors. The concentration of Technology and Consumer Services companies is a key driver of the Global Top 100 outperforming the wider market index.

‘This is a challenging environment for all companies, but there are clear distinctions in the relative performance of different regions and sectors. I hope this quarterly review will provide  interesting insights into how the markets are viewing the world’s largest businesses as they  adapt to this uncertain landscape.’ 

Regional analysis

  • Global Top 100 companies from the US and China and its regions recovered first quarter losses in March to June 2020 – Europe and the rest of the world did not recover the lost ground. 
  • Technology companies contributed to a 21% market capitalisation increase for US companies from March to June 2020.
  •  The performance in China and its regions since December 2019 benefitted from a combination of being further advanced in recovering from the effects of COVID-19 and a strong Technology and e-commerce (Consumer Services) component. 

Companies highlights

  • Eighty seven of the Global Top 100 companies as at June 2020 saw an increase in market capitalisation from March to June 2020, compared with just ten from January to March 2020
  • 10 companies included in the Global Top 100 as at March 2020 have dropped out and did not qualify for the June 2020 list.

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