People must be at heart of inclusive growth, say world leaders

People must be at the heart of inclusive growth and developing human capital must be the focus for investment. That was the key message of the opening sessions of the World Economic Forum’s Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development.

“Inclusive growth is not just a lofty ideal, it is a categorical imperative,” said Faisal Alibrahim, Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia, emphasizing the need to co-create a global economy that works for everyone. “This means investing in people, in their skills, in their education, and in their well-being.”

At the same time, Alibrahim said, energy, which is “the lifeblood of our economies”, must be produced, supplied and consumed responsibly. “We must invest in clean and renewable solutions, and we must do everything we can to balance the energy trilemma of security, equity and sustainability. No one should be left in the dark.”

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, emphasized the transformational role of technology. “We may end up [with] this decade being remembered as the Turbulent Twenties or the Tepid Twenties, and what we actually want is Transformational Twenties,” she said. She added that over the next 100 years leaders must aim for the same degree of wealth as that created over the past 100 years, “but with much better distribution of the benefits of growth”.

While appreciating the growing interest in Africa’s expanding population, diversity and resources, and the economic opportunity they represent, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President of Nigeria, said the world is poised for profound technological change.

“From the exponential advances of AI to the rapid development and deployment of vaccines, we could find ourselves at the cusp of a new age – one might call it the age of intelligent economies – where diffusion and interaction of different technologies, underpinned by artificial intelligence, could propel productivity to new heights and can engender a society of shared abundance.”

With the geopolitical and socio-technological churn under way today, companies are being asked to fill the void on social and other issues that policy has not dealt with, said Peter Orszag, Chief Executive Officer of Lazard. He called for better policy-making to deal with the social challenges and economic twists of the energy transition. “It is going to be expensive and it is going to be hard,” he added.

Photo credit: iStock/ DragonImages

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