Shaping a shared future
in a fractured world
World leaders, policy makers and thinkers are currently in Switzerland for the 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting. This year’s theme is ‘creating a shared future in a fractured world’. Of course this is about geopolitical issues, but at its heart, it is about inclusiveness, and rebalancing progress for fairer, more egalitarian societies.
Obviously these fractures mean many different things to different people socially and economically. But for all those who feel at the wrong end of our rapidly-changing, modern world, it means watching the gaps within our communities widen to a frightening degree, in an era when we might reasonably have thought we’d be doing better.
You have only to look at the latest index listing of the world’s most inclusive economies to see many of the most developed countries are not even on the list. The index comes from more than just GDP, looking at living standards and how effectively nations are future-proofing their economies.
Photo credit: Mariella Furrer
As the WEF puts it, political, economic and social fractures ‘risk dividing us, by fostering intolerance, indecision and inaction’. This week’s WEF meeting is calling on leaders to collaborate to create a shared narrative to improve our world.
History shows our world has been forever fractured: we are constantly divided by the way our economic, political and social landscapes operate. But this doesn’t mean we pull up the drawbridge of possibility on the seemingly impossible.
A brighter future – a shared future must be out there. And indecision, inaction and intolerance can be frustrated at all levels: whether it’s on an international, multicultural stage like the WEF, among global businesses, or at grassroots level in cities and other places around the world. There are many individual people and organisations doing great things globally who will never stop trying, never stop innovating or fighting to eradicate the barriers that divide our societies.
From the WEF perspective, this year’s theme means making a case for renewed commitment to international collaboration as a way of solving critical global challenges. These challenges are manifold, but obviously include climate change, food waste and security, and sustainable urban development.
These topics are all, of course, among the WEF agenda this week, and are deeply interlinked issues we often focus on here at Tea & Water. A climate proof future, for one, calls for true collaboration and collective purpose – not just between countries, but between their citizens and cities.
Photo credit: Micheal McLaughlin
We know cities are absolutely crucial to our future on so many levels. What happens in our metropolises shapes our planet, not just environmentally, but economically, politically and socially. They are the epicentre of human communication, of connectedness. But if these places are fractured and divided, how do we get individuals to come together collectively, to care about our world and what happens to it, when many people feel so distanced and unequal?
The WEF’s mission is about improving the state of the world. At Tea & Water, the essence of what we do is about changing people’s behaviour in a positive way. And for us, it’s always done on an emotional rather than a rational level.
If the many millions of people not benefiting from improved economic or social conditions can start to truly see a shared, fairer future then they may also begin to engage more as citizens. And they may feel more of an emotional connection to their environment and society that has benefits way beyond what is tangible.
More than 2500 people from governments, business, civil society and academia (spanning at least 100 countries) have come together at the WEF summit this week to collaborate across hundreds of different working sessions. The message and intent are positive and we hope to see bold steps and concrete actions.