From the 8th to the 10th of February, leaders from Government, industry and social enterprise gathered together in the gulf of Dubai. It was an interesting setting from more than one aspect.
The city was not so long ago a baron desert, it has literally been built from dreams of what could be and is now home to hundreds of industries and some of the most spectacular feats of engineering and architecture on the planet. One couldn’t think of a more suitable backdrop, considering the agenda of what was to be discussed at the World Government Summit.
It began with a very matter-of-fact address from CEO of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab who, referring to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, stated that “the future is here” and that it is time to mobilize and capture the opportunity that it brings.
The Forth Industrial Revolution covers a multitude of different paradigms, but the narrative of this event was one based firmly on Horyou values: sustainable business.
We have been part of a world up to now that has revolved around the principles of a money making market system whereby lives are sustained on the basis of trade, whether you are trading beans as a farmer in remote Africa or multi-millions in a global hedge fund.
Since the global financial crisis of 2008, principles have changed, from global industry down to citizen level.
We are now slowly adapting a more conscious way of living across the board. We are conscious of our impact on the environment, conscious that our patterns of consumption are keeping laborers working like machines and conscious that the payoffs that we deem important are driving policy decisions that feed inequality.
The need to address this balance of cause and effect regarding capitalism was highlighted. Former Prime Minister of France Dominique De Villepin stated that “We need to remember that business exists to enhance society, not create a division among have and have nots”. Alluded to his time in Government where he created a network in France to connect businesses with students and policy makers, he made his position clear on the importance of people connecting for social good.
This was echoed by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim who affirmed that “we all have a stake and the creativity and innovation of youth are our greatest strength.”
Then came a passionate speech by President and CEO of the UN Foundation Cathy Kalvin. The UN Foundation and Horyou are aligned on development goals and how to get there. They also share a special connection after spending two days contributing to discussions at Earth to Paris in December. Cathy made a plea for us to harness the potential of a purpose driven society serving the citizens of tomorrow. “We must place a special emphasis on youth. Moving from poverty to prosperity depends on us realizing what they have to offer,” she declared.
It was a stage where we realised the negative impact of our past behaviours, but also a place where real opportunities were highlighted.
Overall, the ethos and real need for Horyou as a platform for social good was reinforced. The success of the Sustainable Development Goals is multifaceted but connecting good hearts and minds is the starting point.
Written by Dearbhla Gavin