• Gunjan Syal

My Takeaway From Davos Agenda 2021

Updated: Feb 2

During the week of 25 January 2021, the World Economic Forum hosted the iconic Davos Agenda 2021. Unlike previous years, this was a virtual affair known as the "Davos Dialogues", where the key global leaders shared their views on the state of the post-COVID world. Some people interpreted the virtual nature of this event with a dark cloud. Ironically, I found this year's virtual format to be the most inclusive than any previous iteration, in terms of the number of people reached globally. Discussions which were reserved for paid attendees in the past were open to anyone with a screen and an internet connection. Conversations trickled all over the internet after every event.


There were many intriguing discussions and messages of inspiration. My biggest takeaway is this quote from the day-1 proceedings:

"Innovation is the driver of competitiveness where the world has made the least progress."

I believe the unspecified keyword in this quote is resilience. COVID-19 was an unprecedented test of human, economic, social and business resilience. In business, those who had traditionally resisted change suffered the most from COVID-19's impact. Despite the number of resources at their disposal, the organizations which thrived were those who proactively cultivated a culture of innovation. Post-COVID innovation will demand this mindset of constantly challenging and iterating the current-state.


The World Economic Forum also released a new 'dashboard for a new economy' with new dimensions and a call to action:

Davos Agenda 2021 - dashboard for a new economy
Credit: Davos Agenda 2021

Each of the four dimensions in this dashboard represents an aspect of overall resilience. All aspects must be in balance for a harmonized global economy.

  1. Prosperity representing the financial resilience

  2. Planet representing natural resilience

  3. People representing social resilience

  4. Lastly, Institution.... sadly lacking alignment with the rest of the dashboard. For me, this dimension represents an overall ecosystem resilience, which must be monitored proactively. It boils down to our ability to support good governance, along with the circular economy.


A circular economy aims to rebuild that which it utilizes. This includes all aspects: financial, social, manufactured and natural. It ensures a consistent flow of goods and services; while maintaining resilience and minimizing resource-drain. This conversation gained a lot of focus in 2020, when business supply chains began unraveling.


In my opinion, the Davos Agenda's dashboard leaves a blank where the most important call-to-action should reside. Cross-institution collaboration and focus on circular economy has been lacking historically and we have seen the impact of that through pollution, global warming, e-waste and more. While we are opening up the resilience discussion, it is important to identify key metrics for institutions to identify, measure and amend their impact to circular economies. This is a path to true innovation with long-term resilience.


I am looking forward to more industry-specific discussions around institutions when WEF returns to Davos again in April 2021. In the meantime, I will apply the concepts of good governance and circular economy to my work with the innovation use-cases.


What was your biggest takeaway from Davos Agenda 2021?


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