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Hoping to Shape the Conversation at Davos


Several members of the Global Shapers Community answered questions from The New York Times. Their responses have been edited and condensed.

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

I will be attending as part of an inspiring delegation of young people from the Global Shapers Community, which is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. I look forward to connecting and working with those who are leading at the front lines of their communities in the fight against climate change, who are restoring nature, who are helping to drive equitable societies, and who are committed to creating a more caring and inclusive world.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

The most important part of the Global Shapers Community is the word “community.” At a time when our generation faces ecological, economic and values crises, some of the most vital “technologies” in navigating the path ahead are not necessarily artificial intelligence, blockchain or robotics — they are empathy, collaboration and justice. I hope, as a community, we can be a constant reminder of that, as this year’s annual meeting in Davos seeks to redefine what truly matters as a measure of success for governments and corporations.

We have never been better equipped to take on the challenges we face, and we could create much more democratic, decentralized and decarbonized energy systems for the future while lifting up to a billion people out of energy poverty in the process. If the future can be bright, why would we choose differently? This is a question I would like to discuss with world leaders.

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

I think it’s interesting and important to bring together different representatives to discuss shaping new economies, and I am proud to represent the youth and future generations. I look forward to meeting fellow Global Shapers and hope to meet women in power, to learn about barriers they have had to overcome and best practices to accelerate empowerment for future leaders.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

I will represent the Shaping Fashion project and show how young people in 45 cities around the world have come together to share knowledge and tools, run collective action campaigns and change personal behaviors to revolutionize the fashion industry.

Besides shifting consumer sentiment, the $2 trillion industry needs drastic change and I will be calling for multi-stakeholder collaboration to measure, improve and transparently communicate environmental and social sustainability of fashion.

Transparency is something I feel very strongly about. It is our right to be able to choose companies and products that meet our values and we need information that is complete, comparable and trustworthy to do so. The industry and legislators need to empower us to make these decisions. It’s what can truly accelerate the sustainable fashion revolution.

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

Davos may have the reputation of being a space where business and political leaders come together to sign deals, and perhaps forward their own short-term interests. However, there is no doubt that the decisions made today will affect our environment for centuries to come.

I wish to be a voice for future generations and young people, who will be the most impacted by these decisions. I seek to have empathetic and courageous conversations with those in power, and to advocate for a long-term, values-based lens in decision making.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

Davos also brings together phenomenal leaders across sectors, and I believe they have a genuine desire to improve the world. One could call it idealistic, but I very much resonate with Margaret Mead’s notion “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

I look forward to exchanging ideas, and forging relationships with those also committed to restoring the health of our planet, and fostering the self transformation of individuals with the intention that this will support greater collective action and impact.

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

The Davos 2020 meeting comes at the onset of a new, vital decade, and 2020 is also the year that countries are required to renew their commitments with even greater ambitions. I hope this meeting will coerce world leaders to take action, especially in reducing emissions by 7.6 percent in 2020 and every other year! I hope the world will look back at this meeting in 10 years as one among many that jolted world leaders to take action.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

Deliberately leaving no one behind is the only way we will achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. Over 70 percent of Africans still reside in rural areas and continue to be alienated from development.

We must urgently listen to concerns from those on the streets and from deep in the rural interiors — whose voices are rarely heard or examined — with the primary aim to design and redesign and implement relevant action points with measurable outputs. As such, the question on my mind as I head to Davos is how to marry social innovation with technological innovation to achieve a cohesive and sustainable world!

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

In Davos, I’ll be rubbing shoulders with many chief executives and heads of state who will no doubt acknowledge the importance of tackling climate change. However, those watching may view these words as lip service to the sustainability and stakeholder capitalism narrative.

While my country is experiencing the worst bush fire season on record, globally climate change is set to cause increasing harm in the coming decades. Now is the time to find innovative solutions for urgent climate action.

In Davos, I will be representing progress toward these solutions, seeking to convince business leaders that utilizing carbon emissions can in fact ease the pressure on the bottom line.

At Mineral Carbonation International, we have developed a technology platform that transforms carbon dioxide into building materials like cement and plasterboard. This is a long-term, safe storage solution that has the potential to lock away billions of metric tons of emissions from industry or captured from the atmosphere.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

This year, we have the opportunity to spark real climate change action in many areas. I hope to demonstrate that carbon dioxide is a resource that can help, not hinder the planet.

If I can convince business leaders that decarbonizing is profitable, this will encourage desperately needed climate action, contribute to our Paris Climate Change targets and provide hope for humanity.

With some of the mixed perceptions about Davos, what are your expectations of the conference?

Davos is often viewed as an elitist and exclusive event. Even if this is true, it also serves as an opportunity for impact — thought leaders and experts take the stage to influence our world’s decision makers and their agendas.

The theme this year, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” spotlights this point at the onset of a critical decade: It is our last chance to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and safeguard our future. My expectation and hope are that whenever plans are being made about the future — onstage or offstage — reducing emissions must be at the core of these plans.

I expect our world leaders to be bold in their decision making and actions. We need them now more than ever to lead from a place of empathy to serve those most impacted by their decisions including vulnerable coastal communities, minority groups and the young people of our world.

What do you hope to accomplish at Davos?

I hope to use this opportunity to support the voices and messages raised by young people around the world. We must listen to the scientists — we are not running out of time, we are now out of time and we need ambitious, deliberate, action. I urge world leaders to take the following actions in true partnership with local Indigenous communities.

• Make the policy changes needed to meet the Paris Agreement, as we must reduce global emissions by at least 7 percent every year until 2030 to safeguard our planet.

• Support the protection of at least 30 percent of our planet by 2030 and invest in nature-based solutions and biodiversity.

• Recognize young people and nature as primary and core stakeholders and authentically incorporate their interests and voices into decisions and actions that will impact them.

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