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Leading Platform Companies Commit to Principles on Good Platform Work

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Leading platform companies – Cabify, Deliveroo, Grab, MBO Partners, Postmates and Uber – have partnered through the World Economic Forum platform to create principles for the quality of the work that they facilitate.

The companies have agreed on The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work, released today, which outlines eight key areas to address: diversity and inclusion; safety and wellbeing; flexibility and fair conditions; reasonable pay and fees; social protection; learning and development; voice and participation; and data management. The World Economic Forum has also released the white paper, The Promise of Platform Work: Understanding the Ecosystem, which outlines the different categories of digital work/service platforms, the opportunities and challenges they pose for workers and existing examples of good practice by platform companies in the areas covered by the Charter.

Companies operating digital platforms for individuals to hire out their services to businesses or consumers have experienced rapid growth in recent years and disrupted a range of sectors. Around 0.5% to 2% of the workforce in advanced economies is engaged in platform work, and the platform economy is growing, with global spending up 43% in 2018. These platforms range from ride-hailing apps to professional services.

Digital work/service platforms can offer affordable services to consumers, allow companies and clients greater opportunities to access talent, and provide flexible opportunities for earning income. But the rapid adoption of technology, innovation in business models and the diverse ways in which people work through platforms poses challenges for the current rules and laws governing work and safety nets.

A comprehensive approach is required that provides clarity and legal certainty, and empowers platform workers, promoting their dignity and wellbeing, while supporting flexibility, innovation and the value offered by the platform economy to users and clients. Platform operators should set strong standards to support those providing services through their platforms, and The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work is a ground-breaking initiative by leading companies in the sector to collectively identify and commit to key principles that in their view should underpin good platform work.

“In an era of stakeholder capitalism, platform companies have come together to show leadership on improving outcomes for workers. The solutions to the challenges posed by the platform economy for working standards will come from a combination of policy changes, improved practice by platform companies themselves and dialogue between government, platform companies and workers’ representatives. These will be the next steps for this project at the World Economic Forum,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, New Economy and Society at the Forum.

The next stage of work will engage with a wider community including policy-makers and civil society stakeholders to discuss the practical measures required to support implementation of the principles for good platform work.

What the Leaders Are Saying

“Platform business represents an urgent challenge for regulation of labour markets to ensure formal work with rights, health and safety, minimum living wages or income along with the freedom to organize and bargain collectively and universal social protection. In the absence of Government action, it is pleasing to see this industry discussion. This initiative had its origins in an idea generated during a discussion with leading trade union organizations at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2018 in Davos-Klosters. It represents an important start to the search for solutions for platform workers. While our position on the issues addressed in the Charter may differ in important respects from the principles that it sets out, we appreciate the acknowledgement of responsibility to promote good work and look forward to dialogue over the coming year,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

“Our industry should view this Charter as the baseline for good platform work, for the action we all must take to ensure the wellbeing of those who contribute to our businesses,” said Bastian Lehmann, Co-founder and CEO of Postmates. “These Charter principles serve as an important reminder that conversations about the future of work are about the upward mobility of those who power our economy, day in and day out. Postmates is proud to sign this Charter as yet another signal of our commitment to fighting for pro-worker, pro-innovation policies. We hope that every on-demand company will join us.”

“We are proud to contribute to the Platform Work Charter and continue the important work of advancing the next way of working for current and future generations. As we have observed in our now 10th year of collecting data on the independent workforce, self-employment is here to stay, with more than half of all adults in the US predicted to experience independent work at some point in their careers. The World Economic Forum is the platform that will help inform and motivate government and industry to take note and adopt policies designed to support this fast-growing, satisfied, and highly influential portion of the workforce,” said Gene Zaino, Founder and Executive Chairman of MBO Partners.

“Everyone has the right to benefit from the digital economy – to earn more, to choose flexible work, and to learn new skills. Over 20% of our driver-partners did not work before joining Grab. They’ve learnt to use a digital platform to find work, and many can now afford to send their children to school. In a developing region like Southeast Asia, giving people access to digital platforms can improve the quality of life significantly for the next generation. We hope to continue collaborating with governments and industry partners to create innovative benefits that look after even the smallest micro-entrepreneur or business,” said Anthony Tan, Group Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Grab.

Will Shu, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Deliveroo, said: “We know that riders want to balance flexibility and security. Riders who choose to work with us tell us that they want the freedom to choose when, where and whether to work, balanced with security. Deliveroo was the first platform to give riders free insurance to protect them in case something goes wrong while on the road and we have long argued that changes are needed to enable platforms such as ours to go further to give more benefits to self-employed riders. This Charter is an important piece of work to move that debate forward.”

Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society

The Charter of Principles for Good Platform Work and The Promise of Platform Work report are part of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. The Platform provides the opportunity to advancing prosperous, inclusive and equitable economies and societies. It focuses on co-creating a new vision in three interconnected areas: growth and competitiveness; education, skills and work; and equality and inclusion. Working together, stakeholders deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change.

Over 100 of the world’s leading companies and 100 international, civil society and academic organizations currently work through the Platform to: promote new approaches to competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy; deploy education and skills for tomorrow’s workforce; build a new pro-worker and pro-business agenda for jobs; and integrate equality and inclusion into the new economy, aiming to reach 1 billion people with better education, jobs, skills and economic opportunity by 2030.

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Clean energy demand for critical minerals set to soar as the world pursues net zero goals

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Supplies of critical minerals essential for key clean energy technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines need to pick up sharply over the coming decades to meet the world’s climate goals, creating potential energy security hazards that governments must act now to address, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. 

The special report, The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, is the most comprehensive global study to date on the central importance of minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements in a secure and rapid transformation of the global energy sector. Building on the IEA’s longstanding leadership role in energy security, the report recommends six key areas of action for policy makers to ensure that critical minerals enable an accelerated transition to clean energy rather than becoming a bottleneck.

“Today, the data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. “The challenges are not insurmountable, but governments must give clear signals about how they plan to turn their climate pledges into action. By acting now and acting together, they can significantly reduce the risks of price volatility and supply disruptions.”

“Left unaddressed, these potential vulnerabilities could make global progress towards a clean energy future slower and more costly – and therefore hamper international efforts to tackle climate change,” Dr Birol said. “This is what energy security looks like in the 21st century, and the IEA is fully committed to helping governments ensure that these hazards don’t derail the global drive to accelerate energy transitions.”

The special report, part of the IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook series, underscores that the mineral requirements of an energy system powered by clean energy technologies differ profoundly from one that runs on fossil fuels. A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car, and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a similarly sized gas-fired power plant.

Demand outlooks and supply vulnerabilities vary widely by mineral, but the energy sector’s overall needs for critical minerals could increase by as much as six times by 2040, depending on how rapidly governments act to reduce emissions. Not only is this a massive increase in absolute terms, but as the costs of technologies fall, mineral inputs will account for an increasingly important part of the value of key components, making their overall costs more vulnerable to potential mineral price swings.

The commercial importance of these minerals also grow rapidly: today’s revenue from coal production is ten times larger than from energy transition minerals. However, in climate-driven scenarios, these positions are reversed well before 2040.

To produce the report, the IEA built on its detailed, technology-rich energy modelling tools to establish a unique database showing future mineral requirements under varying scenarios that span a range of levels of climate action and 11 different technology evolution pathways. In climate-driven scenarios, mineral demand for use in batteries for electric vehicles and grid storage is a major force, growing at least thirty times to 2040. The rise of low-carbon power generation to meet climate goals also means a tripling of mineral demand from this sector by 2040. Wind takes the lead, bolstered by material-intensive offshore wind. Solar PV follows closely, due to the sheer volume of capacity that is added. The expansion of electricity networks also requires a huge amount of copper and aluminium.

Unlike oil – a commodity produced around the world and traded in liquid markets – production and processing of many minerals such as lithium, cobalt and some rare earth elements are highly concentrated in a handful of countries, with the top three producers accounting for more than 75% of supplies. Complex and sometimes opaque supply chains also increase the risks that could arise from physical disruptions, trade restrictions or other developments in major producing countries. In addition, while there is no shortage of resources, the quality of available deposits is declining as the most immediately accessible resources are exploited. Producers also face the necessity of stricter environmental and social standards.

The IEA report provides six key recommendations for policy makers to foster stable supplies of critical minerals to support accelerated clean energy transitions. These include the need for governments to lay out their long-term commitments for emission reductions, which would provide the confidence needed for suppliers to invest in and expand mineral production. Governments should also promote technological advances, scale up recycling to relieve pressure on primary supplies, maintain high environmental and social standards, and strengthen international collaboration between producers and consumers.

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Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19

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Parts of the online economy have boomed since COVID-19 began, while some pre-pandemic big-hitters have seen a reversal of their fortunes in the last year, amid widespread movement restrictions, UN economists have found.

According to UN trade and development experts UNCTAD, the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 per cent to 19 per cent in 2020.

The digital retail economy experienced most growth in the Republic of Korea, where internet sales increased from around one in five transactions in 2019, to more than one in four last year.

“These statistics show the growing importance of online activities”, said Shamika Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics. “They also point to the need for countries, especially developing ones, to have such information as they rebuild their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The UK also saw a spike in online transactions over the same period, from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent; so too did China (from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent), the US (11 to 14 per cent), Australia (6.3 to 9.4 per cent), Singapore (5.9 to 11.7 per cent) and Canada (3.6 to 6.2 per cent).  

Online business-to-consumer (B2C) sales for the world’s top 13 companies stood at $2.9 trillion in 2020, UNCTAD said on Friday.

Bumpy ride

UNCTAD also said that among the top 13 e-commerce firms – most being from China and the US – those offering ride-hailing and travel services have suffered.

These include holiday site Expedia, which fell from fifth place in 2019 to 11th in 2020, a slide mirrored by travel aggregator, Booking Holdings, and Airbnb.

By comparison, e-firms offering a wider range of services and goods to online consumers fared better, with the top 13 companies seeing a more than 20 per cent increase in their sales – up from 17.9 per cent in 2019.

These winners include Shopify, whose gains rose more than 95 per cent last year – and Walmart (up 72.4 per cent). 

Cashing-up

Overall, global e-commerce sales jumped to $26.7 trillion in 2019, up four per cent from a year earlier, the UN number-crunchers noted, citing the latest available estimates.

In addition to consumer online purchases, this figure includes “business-to-business” (B2B) trade, which put together was worth 30 per cent of global gross domestic product two years ago.

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COVID-19 has reshaped last-mile logistics, with e-commerce deliveries rising 25% in 2020

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COVID-19 has shifted the way people buy goods, accelerating the rise in online shopping and e-commerce deliveries. According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, this has led to a 25% rise in consumer e-commerce deliveries in 2020.

The new report, Pandemic, Parcels and Public Vaccination: Envisioning the Next Normal for the Last-Mile Ecosystem, explores changes seen over the last year which will greatly influence last mile deliveries in the future. For example, it’s expected that 10%-20% of the recent increase in e-commerce deliveries will continue after the pandemic and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Covid-19 shutdowns have completely reshaped how we live and of course this includes how and what we’re buying,” said Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility, World Economic Forum. “Leaders must consider and respond to the effects COVID-19 has had on e-commerce deliveries and what impact these changes will have on their cities and communities.”

Beyond rising demand, the past year has also seen a large shift to greener delivery options, with wider spread EV across the industry and more stringent carbon emission rules from cities expected to shape delivery networks in the near future.

Overall, the report finds six main structural changes to the delivery and logistics sector that are expected to last:

Six structural changes

The pandemic has caused an increase in last-mile deliveries that are likely to persist.
In 2020, business-to-consumer parcel deliveries have risen by about 25%. The report suggests that part of this increased demand will be durable, with at least 10%-20% of the growth remaining post-pandemic.

Consumers increasingly buy new types of products online and consider environmental and health impact when buying.
As consumers continue to buy a wider array of goods online, they are also becoming more ecologically aware. For example, 56% of millennials cite environmental protection as the reason for choosing alternatives to home delivery.

Decarbonization of last-mile deliveries has accelerated.
Companies and cities have ramped up commitments to make emission-free deliveries, while many pandemic-related economic stimulus packages, especially in the European Union and China, contain provisions to support green mobility and goods transport.

Faced with budget challenges and increased transport needs, cities steer last-mile transitions.
Many cities, like Seattle and Boston, have started to repurpose kerb space to designated delivery pick-up. Others, including Santa Monica and Amsterdam, are taking bold action on cleaner delivery with “zero-emission delivery zones” and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Proven technologies are fuelling the last-mile ecosystem revolution.
While disruptive new technologies, such as drones and delivery robots, will continue to emerge, the last-mile revolution is happening now as proven technologies scale up. The likes of parcel lockers and data sharing for load pooling are being adopted around the world as the costs of implementation decrease

New business models emerge to meet increased demand for sustainable delivery vehicles.
Certain logistics companies are now offering services to online retailers, which will help them identify the delivery routes most suited to make the immediate transition to electric delivery vehicles.

Last mile for vaccines

While ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines remains the most pressing issue in global vaccine distribution, effective last-mile delivery is another critical issue for countries. The key challenges are cold storage, second vaccine dose needs, and a disconnect between the vaccine and patient journey.

“Governments and logistics companies could think about teaming up with players who are experienced in managing very local, capillary demand and with integrating a large number of local retail outlets,” says Anja Huber, Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company. “Examples include large online retailers, eGrocery giants and technology platform players”

Potential solutions countries can implement for efficient vaccine delivery include real-time logistics planning, data integration, centralized management of delivery strategies at the national level and many more.

There are also early examples of countries that have handled this challenge particularly well. While there are many factors in vaccine distribution success, broadly speaking, countries with tight integration of healthcare and logistics stakeholders seem to show the highest national vaccination rates two months into 2021.

These include Israel, the UK and Chile outperforming other countries with more decentralized healthcare systems, like the US and Germany, which had slower initial vaccine rollouts.

Clearly, much still needs to be done to ensure developed countries overcome operational issues with vaccine delivery. However, mobility solutions should not overshadow an even larger ethical challenge in the differences of vaccine access between the global north and global south, which is a priority for greater equity.

Future of the last mile

The impact of COVID-19 on the last-mile delivery has accelerated existing trends across the sector, leading to six structural changes expected to shape the future of last mile deliveries.

These will be part of a broader urban mobility transition, driven by public policy and company actions. As cities and logistics leaders continue the sustainable urban delivery transition, close public-private coordination will be critical. Zero Emissions Urban Fleets (ZEUF) network, for example, provides a relevant dedicated stakeholder platform for this work.

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