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New Policies Required to Unlock Full Potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Arab World

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Leaders from business, government, start-ups and venture capitalists are meeting in Manama, Bahrain, to understand and positively shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the Arab World so that it serves all parts of society.

Held under the theme “The Arab World in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, the meeting marks the launch of the next phase of the World Economic Forum’s work on the digital agenda for the Arab world. It is supported by a strong mandate from the Forum’s Regional Business Council on the Middle East and North Africa. The aim is to narrow the gap between the region’s technological potential and the policy agenda required to realize it. Its first phase is focused on exploring innovative approaches that are being tried and tested to harness the benefits of technological advancement in the Arab world.

“In the context of the rapidly spreading Fourth Industrial Revolution, the engagement of key stakeholders has never been more important than today. Reaping the benefits of new technologies while maintaining trust, requires the collaborative efforts of government, businesses and other actors in society,” said Mirek Dušek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Regional and Geopolitical Affairs of the World Economic Forum.

Recent technological advances have the potential to fundamentally redefine Arab economies. Participants will address necessary policy challenges in three key areas: E-commerce, data flows and new technologies for the Arab World.

“Just as with business, governments that fail to keep pace with immense technological change risk falling behind. Those that embrace change, adapt to change, and anticipate change will emerge winners. This is why in Bahrain we are finding new ways of ensuring the public and private sectors collaborate, as failing to harness all our talents to control the Fourth Industrial Revolution will risk us missing out on the undoubted benefits it can enable,” said Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications of Bahrain.

Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive Officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board and current Chair of the Regional Business Council for the Middle East and North Africa added: “Our partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Cross Border Data Flow exemplifies Bahrain’s vision and commitment to be at the forefront of technical change, but also to help craft region-wide solutions.”

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Digital Tech Can Reduce Emissions by up to 20% in High-Emitting Industries

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Digital technologies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% by 2050 in the three highest-emitting sectors: energy, mobility and materials. As businesses and governments respond to global calls for action to tackle climate change, significant efforts must be put in place to achieve net zero.

These new estimates are the result of a collaboration between the World Economic Forum and Accenture. However, a large gap remains between commitments and action. Estimates of current commitments indicate a projected emissions reduction of merely 7.5% when a 55% reduction is needed. Closing this gap will require high-emitting sectors to rethink efficiency, circularity and sustainability.

Digital solutions that can cut global emissions

Energy, materials and mobility constitute the highest emission sectors, contributing 43%, 26% and 24% respectively of total emissions in 2020. These industries can use four digital technologies to decarbonize their operations and value chains: foundational technologies such as big data analytics; decision-making technologies such as artificial intelligence/machine learning and digital twins; enabling technologies such as cloud, 5G, blockchain and augmented reality; and sensing and control technologies such as internet of things, drones and automation.

According to the estimates, digital solutions can reduce emissions by up to 8% in the energy sector by enhancing carbon-intensive processes, improving energy efficiency in buildings, and deploying and managing renewable energy.

In the materials sector, digital solutions can improve mining and upstream production and enhance efficiency and circularity of materials, reducing up to 7% of GHG emissions by 2050. The mobility sector can reduce emissions by up to 5% by supporting the transition from fossil fuel combustion to green molecules, improving supply chain efficiencies and optimizing travel routes.

“Digital technologies and business models are readily available levers for companies to accelerate their climate and energy transitions. Technology can bring transparency, efficiency and circularity to business processes and value chains. Shared learning and action by industry leaders and climate coalitions will be key to realizing the benefits of technology at scale while keeping its carbon footprint low,” said Manju George, Head of Platform Strategy, Digital Economy, World Economic Forum.

Lighthouse examples show what’s possible

The Forum is curating an inventory of lighthouse examples, companies that are leading the way in implementing digital technologies to reduce their carbon footprint and deliver economic growth to inspire more adoption and collaboration.

“The combination of digital and sustainability is already creating significant value across industries but many companies are still seeking the practical, strategic and impactful actions they must take now to realize the full impact of their ambitions and commitments,” said Kathleen O’Reilly, Global Lead, Accenture Strategy.“While every digital transformation will look different, the use of real-time data to enable sustainable decision-making, new-skilling opportunities for workforces to scale digital, and collaboration both within the organization and across the value chain will be core to the success of all.”

In each sector, digital technologies must be deployed together with new climate technologies and business models to deliver net zero. In addition, efforts to reduce emissions from the digital technologies themselves must continue, keeping their net impact on the planet overwhelmingly positive.

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Growing Alliance to Accelerate Digital Healthcare, Education, Finance

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The EDISON Alliance for digital inclusion has launched a new programme to accelerate digital inclusion in the “life critical” sectors of health, education and finance.

A network of “Lighthouse Countries” including Bahrain, Bangladesh and Rwanda will work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the new programme in their respective countries. By facilitating new partnerships, incentivizing projects and unlocking capital at scale, the Lighthouse Countries Network will further the EDISON Alliance’s 1 billion lives vision of providing affordable digital solutions by 2025.

“More than a third of the world is still offline and left behind,” said Derek O’Halloran, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum. “Many countries are making great progress, but much work still needs to be done. The Lighthouse Country Network will provide a platform for countries both to learn from each other, showcase their successes and access a global network of partners and resources to accelerate their national goals”.

Inclusive digital transformation is a huge mission for any country that cannot be achieved by governments alone, and would require active participation from the local ecosystem – both public and private sector, said Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP. “We are glad to support the Lighthouse Countries Network, and we hope it will bring new momentum to more countries,” he said.

Rwanda continues to move towards a cashless economy supported by mobile payments. Working with the EDISON Alliance as a Lighthouse Country, it will prioritize innovative partnerships towards equitable and affordable access to smart mobile devices. “We are excited about the partnership possibilities on the important issue of devices, financial inclusion and broader digitalization that we can achieve through the EDISON Alliance,” said Paula Ingabire, Minister for ICT and Innovation, Rwanda.

Bahrain is prioritizing digital inclusion in education to provide digital skills and literacy training to students and to empower women and girls to enter Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers. The country will work with fellow EDISON Alliance member, Women in Tech, towards these goals. “Bahrain’s partnership with the EDISON Alliance reflects the Kingdom’s strong commitment to building an economy of ideas and creativity in which we invest in human capital and in which individuals make a return on investment in themselves,” said Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and National Economy, Bahrain.

Bangladesh is focusing on delivering affordable digital education to students by equipping teachers with digital skills. “Through the Lighthouse Countries Network, we hope to share our learnings with countries facing similar challenges, and partner with fellow EDISON Alliance Champions to better prepare our teachers and students with skills, education, employment and entrepreneurship – narrowing the digital skills gap and offering more opportunities for youth in Bangladesh,” said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Minister of State for ICT, Bangladesh.

The World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance brings together leaders from across industries and governments to mobilize a global movement for digital inclusion. Less than one year since launching its 1 Billion Lives Challenge, the alliance has doubled the number of commitments from governments, organizations and companies to accelerate digitally inclusive solutions. This includes recent commitments from Bahrain, BBVA, Bharti Enterprises, Crescent Enterprises, Darsel, Dell, Digital Opportunity Trust, Ericsson, Inmarsat, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Kredivo, NITI Aayog, and Nokia.

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WEF Unveils Virtual Global Collaboration Village as the Future of Strong Public-Private Cooperation

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The World Economic Forum is embarking on an ambitious new journey to harness the potential of the metaverse as a platform for collaborative, inclusive and effective international action.

The Forum, in collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft, is building a Global Collaboration Village as the virtual future of public-private cooperation. It will provide immersive spaces where stakeholders can convene, create and take action on the world’s most pressing challenges.

“Since our founding in 1971, the Forum has served as a platform where business, government, civil society and other stakeholders can come together to address critical global issues,” said Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman. “The metaverse will influence the way, people, governments, companies and society at large think, work, interact and communicate for the purpose of collectively addressing issues on the global agenda. The Global Collaboration Village will be an extension of the World Economic Forum’s public private platforms and in-person meetings and will provide a more open, more sustained and more comprehensive process for coming together.”

Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO of Accenture, said: “While the metaverse is only in its early days, it already holds great promise, not only for redefining how organizations work and interact but also for fostering effective public-private partnerships. We are pleased to collaborate with the World Economic Forum and Microsoft in creating the Global Collaboration Village and pioneering a trusted metaverse space. This will complement the Forum’s real-world collaborations and invite a range of diverse stakeholders to come together to address the world’s most critical challenges and innovate a more sustainable future for all.”

The Global Collaboration Village will bring together key global stakeholders – international organizations, governments, partner companies and civil society organizations – to imagine alternative futures, explore ideas in an immersive way and envision what the future world could be. The Forum aims to be a pioneer within this new space and bring together others to co-create within it.

Key aims of the Global Collaboration Village

Global cooperation – To create a new virtual space where global interaction can be enhanced and cooperative solutions found

Interactivity – To provide immersive experiences to foster a better understanding of key global challenges

Inclusivity – To offer a collaborative public space where broad participation in discussions about pressing global issues is both encouraged and enabled

Impact – The platform and all of its goals are geared towards catalysing more effective individual and collective action following the Forum’s mission statement and commitment to improving the state of the world

About the launch of the Global Cooperation Village

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Strategic Partners Accenture and Microsoft, presented the overall concept and architecture of the Global Collaboration Village, as well as a proof-of-concept of the experience and functionality, at the Annual Meeting 2022.

This launch is the first step on a new journey. The Forum will continue to develop the Global Collaboration Village, together with a founding partners group, over the coming months and years, with the aim of turning the metaverse into a place where international cooperation can be strengthened and re-energized.

In addition, the Forum is launching a new initiative on Defining and Building the Metaverse, which convenes more than 60 leading companies from technology and other sectors alongside experts from governments, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of governance and policy frameworks for the metaverse and strengthen economic and social value creation opportunities. This initiative and the Global Collaboration Village will help shape the foundations of the metaverse to truly create an equitable, interoperable and safe digital environment from the onset.

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