UAE- WGS Dialogues: Mohammad Al Gergawi urges world governments to adapt lessons learnt from pandemic to overcome challenges, identify opportunities

10 March 2021

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Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the World Government Summit Organisation, stressed that successful future governments will be those capable of adapting the lessons from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to identify growth opportunities.

Gergawi said the pandemic is a turning point in the development of countries' economies and sectors and is an opportunity to design new mechanisms to provide services for their citizens, in his keynote address on 'Major Global Trends in the Next Decade' on Day 1 of the two-day World Government Summit Dialogues, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Al Gergawi said: "Every year in the past, mankind has faced different challenges. 2020 was a milestone – although we faced challenges, we found opportunities. Our healthcare system was tested. Our education system was also tested. No sector was left unaffected. Governments were tested on their agility and now on their recovery. Over two days we will hear from world leaders, CEOs, thinkers, innovators and game changers on how 2021 will unfold. What to expect and more importantly how to stand strong and united after experiencing one of humanity's most challenging years."

The Minister noted: "Pandemics are not new. The world was undeniably caught unprepared. The pandemic served as a great equalizer and highlighted that we are all linked and inter-dependent – to each other and to nature – regardless of classes and ethnicities. It has deepened our social fabric and cohesion. The world is now facing a parallel pandemic. Nine out of 10 Generation Z individuals have experienced at least one physical or mental symptom caused by depression, sadness, demotivation or lack of energy. The generation that lived through this pandemic will have the same issues as the one that came out of World War II. With a set of mental health challenges but a new wave of motivation."

He underscored that the current generation faces the risks of economic security, job security and career growth potential, a sustainable life and a healthy state of mind. Governments will need to work on a multi-level approach to tackle multi-generational and multi-dimensional challenges for the future of humanity."

He also commended the hard work of the scientists, the private sector and government in the development of the vaccine in eight months and said: "This was a bold achievement for humanity and a cause for hope and celebration. We must fan this great spirit of global cooperation to ensure a fair distribution of vaccines worldwide. We must remember that no meaningful recovery is possible, and no one is safe until everyone is safe."

The World Bank has estimated that more than 150 million more people were plunged into extreme poverty due to the pandemic. More than 40% of the world population - almost 3.3 billion people now live below the poverty line. This has rolled back a decade of hard work and put millions of lives at risk.

He said: "Getting our economy back on track and getting more people back to living productive jobs are our top priority. We have come to appreciate in very real terms that the economy of the future needs to be more resilient – it must include new metrics for success. This means harnessing technology, inclusivity, ecology, and most critically, sustainability. Competitiveness is not a zero sum game. Protectionism is. We are at a crossroad and have before us an opportunity for large scale transformation. A new chapter has begun and valuable lessons have emerged. The time for business as usual is over."

Sessions of the first day of the World Government Summit Dialogues focused on major shifts in vital sectors. The 'Embedding Trust and Authenticity in the Next Generation of Leaders' session featured Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, who highlighted the importance of collaboration and transparent interaction between governments, the private sector and society to address urgent challenges including sustainability, enhancing future skills, and ensuring accurate data and information.

Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Heirs Holdings, United Bank of Africa and Transcorp, and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, participated in a session titled 'Africa's Future Post 2021'. The session reviewed ways to activate the tremendous potential of the continent, and explored how African leaders could collaborate to achieve qualitative shifts for societies.

WGS Dialogues also featured a session titled 'Asia's Future Outlook' that witnessed the participation of Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys, and Dr. Samir Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). The session highlighted the role of the Asian continent in shaping the future of the new world order post COVID-19.

For its part, the 'Decentralizing Finance for an Inclusive Economy' session featured the participation of Jutta Steiner, CEO and Founder of Parity Technologies, and examined how the pandemic had highlighted the importance of flexible and non-central alternatives for traditional financial systems as well as the utilization of coded data and new financial technologies in global economic activities.

Another session titled 'Is Crypto the New Currency Beyond 2021?' was headlined by Anthony Di Iorio, Founder and CEO of Decentral and Co-founder of Ethereum, Denelle Dixon, CEO and Executive Director of the Stellar Development Foundation, Brock Pierce, Founder of Blockchain Capital, and Saqr Ereiqat, a blockchain expert and government sector advisor at IBM. The participants shared insights on the future of blockchain technologies and pointed out that cryptocurrency solutions could replace banks and banking services in the next few years.

Other insightful sessions on Day 1 included 'Crafting Decisions in Times of Uncertainty', featuring Dr Daniel Kahneman, a psychology professor and Nobel Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, and one headlined by Nechemia Peres, President of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Maurice Levy, Chairman of Publicis Group on 'Finding Peace Within Crisis...Moving Beyond the Pandemic'.

The WGS Dialogues concluded Day 1 with a session titled '2021: Forecasting the Year Ahead' that featured a conversation between Professor Paul Saffo, a futurist and Professor of Engineering at Sandford University, and Corinne Iozzio, Editor in Chief of Popular Science magazine, on the importance of taking imperative steps to prevent the human race from becoming climate refugees in the next 30 years.

The virtual event drew the participation of global leaders, entrepreneurs, representatives of international organizations and experts, to discuss the most prominent emerging global trends and share visions and ideas to enhance the readiness of governments in overcoming future challenges.