World Government Summit Shapes Economic Future and Explores Hidden Innovation Potential
The World Government Summit (WGS) emphasized the need to bolster open global partnership and employing modern technology to explore and build on new opportunities, in the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its implications.
These were the key takeaways of two recent webinars, as part of the online series organized by the World Government Summit Foundation until June 26. The series aims to enhance the role of governments in responding to the new frontiers set by the novel coronavirus and shape the future of governments in the post-coronavirus era by analyzing the latest developments and effects of the virus on governments worldwide.
The online series, “COVID-19 & Government”, discuss the global impact of COVID-19 on vital economic sectors and the future of government beyond this pandemic, hosting 30 global speakers, experts, and government leaders. It also focuses on new global trends imposed by the acceleration of technological progress and the changes brought about by the pandemic, which helps governments overcome the crisis and create a better future.
Recession or Recovery? Challenges and Opportunities
Kevin O’Leary, Businessman and Global Investor, Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, and Sarah Hewin, Managing Director and Chief Economist for Standard Chartered Bank in Europe and Americas, shared their views on the challenges and opportunities tied to the global crisis we are witnessing today, during a webinar titled “Recession or Recovery: What Can We Expect from the Global Economy Post COVID-19?”.
During the webinar, moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, the panelists explored how, although a big threat, this pandemic poses a great opportunity. They pondered whether we can exit the pandemic as winners, and debated which countries are currently doing so.
O’Leary nominated Switzerland as the government that got it right with its canton system. He said: “With only 38 cases recorded yesterday, they brought the economy back in 68 days. They have come back the fastest, even better than South Korea.”
Speaking about the change in consumer behavior, Bejjani said: “People are going to continue to consume, but it is going to be much more value driven and going to have much less disposable income. The disposable income is going to be very different and it is going to impact in the coming 18-24 months. There is also fear among people about the future, and we need to instill the trust in the people. Trust is the main underlying factor going forward. Trust in each other, moving into the contactless economy, trust in healthcare system, trust in government, and trust that people have a future.”
For her part, Hewin said: “Companies went into this crisis with high levels of debt and revenues. Unfortunately, we are going to be seeing some shakeouts in certain sectors, such as travel. From a policy making perspective this increases the need to keep interest rates as very low as far as possible to ensure that funding is getting out to the companies where it is required. Governments are operating hand in hand with central banks to ensure that there is readily available low cost funding so that we come out of this downturn, which we think is going to be in the second half of the year, and companies are in a better position to pick up traction.”
The Role of Innovation in Global Crises
Professor Soumitra Dutta, Professor of Management at the SC Johnson College of Business in Cornell University, spoke on the role of innovation in building a sustainable and inclusive future, in a webinar titled “The Role of Innovation in Global Crises”, moderated by Saeed Kharbash, Deputy Managing Director of the World Government Summit Organization.
Professor Dutta said: “Innovation, as a theme, is very important in this time, especially the time that the world will face as we emerge from this crisis.”
Looking back at innovation during the financial crisis, he highlighted: “Interestingly, in the 2008/2009 time period, many countries, including Argentina, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, France, India, Korea, Mexico, and Poland, did not decrease their investments in research and development. So, what you saw was that in the last 10 years, R&D investments have been growing at a rate faster than GDP growth rate, globally. Somehow, we have seen some kind of a decoupling between the economy and R&D investment cycles.”
Professor Dutta mentioned a ‘hidden innovation potential’ that was discovered. He said: “If you go back and think, two and half months ago, when we were told that you have to teach online and you have to work from home, there was a lot of chaos. A lot of people thought this was impossible, and it cannot be done. Two and half months later, if you talk to most organizations, productivity has not been impacted. In fact, digitalization has accelerated innovation in many ways. All this was possible just six months ago, but we never did it because there was a resistance to prevent change.”
He added: “Just survival is not enough for a business today, clearly you have to strive. It’s in moments of crises when they all saw opportunities. It’s more a question of mindset – the mindset has to be focused on innovation, growth, and success, while of course balancing to a certain degree required your short-term considerations.”
On the same note, Christopher M. Schroeder, Global Venture Investor and Author, mentioned that innovation is an element of necessity. He said: “If you do not innovate, your competitors are. New competitors are looking for the very place where established enterprises are resting. The presumption that somehow in a crisis that we can kind of get through it alone, when at the same time, you have an environment of innovators now coming from around the world looking for the niches of opportunity, is flawed.”
He added: “The first-grade accelerant is the fact that the world has access to technology and the world is unleashing innovation in every corner of it. We’ve truly had five or ten years of a behavioral shift in about two months, but we have to remember that in the US, less than 12 percent of all retail is digital. All of a sudden, hundreds of millions of people around the world in any age demographic and in any area, are in fact using video conferencing and e-commerce and realizing it works. So, this is opening up an incredible swath of innovation based on many trends which are happening overall.”
He noted that there are still big questions that we have to think about, because many people in the world, to this day, do not have access to the technology. He said: “Two billion people are not part of what we have been describing right now [the global population that is using video conferencing and e-commerce]. In America, we talked a lot about the ‘digital divide’ over the years, but it has now become a ‘digital necessity’.”
Webinars on 7 Vital Sectors
The “COVID-19 & Government” online series is held remotely to review the latest developments related to coronavirus and discuss their effects on government work in 7 vital sectors, namely: education, healthcare, economy, security, infrastructure, governance and leadership.
World Government Summit
The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide. Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments, focusing on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.