For the 50th time, from January 21 until 24, the powerful from politics and economy meet in the Swiss Alps. Davos 2020 brings together 3,000 participants from around the world, and aim to give concrete meaning to “stakeholder capitalism”, assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress towards the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and facilitate discussions on technology and trade governance.
Deutsche Bank is also present at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and is addressing a number of socio-political issues. Under the title “Is Growth an Illusion?” we host our own programme and discuss on this question in Davos with masterminds, leading politicians and internationally renowned experts from various fields. One of the key issues is the matching of goals between growth and climate-friendly action, which Deutsche Bank Research has also addressed in a recent study.
The mission of the annual WEF in Davos – to improve the state of the world – has always been a difficult one. By 2020, the challenges facing humanity have not diminished.
Speakers and sessions
Growth regions – the places to be
During the last decade, China has begun to rival the US as a global economic power. In line with its Made in China 2025 programme, it has grown from a low-cost producer of consumer goods to a sophisticated global competitor in most of the major tech-intensive industries. It is also securing its regional influence through its ambitious Belt and Road programme.
This session explores this historical change of the global economic and political environment and the challenges and opportunities it represents to German and European corporations.
“Asia is forecast to generate some 60% of global growth by 2030, with two-thirds of this coming from China. We have to be involved in this.”
Watch the interview with Martin Brudermüller, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), BASF SE
“A major geopolitical contest between US and China is both inevitable and avoidable. As usual, the Chinese will be patient. They believe that time is on their side. They may be proven right.”
Watch the interview with Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, Distinguished Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute and a former President of the UN Security Council
Qualitative growth – is sustainability and growth an illusion?
Is there an alternative to growth as we know it? Can we bypass a lengthy industrialisation process and move to a technology and services-led economy with manufacturing processes made less carbon-intensive? Can future economic growth be tied to improved environmental outcomes?
“History shows us that there is no problem associated with growth – including global warming – that we cannot solve. There's every good reason to be pro-growth, and no good reason to be against it.”
Andrew McAfee is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy and a Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“Our growth fetish has hindered ecological innovation, reinforced inequality and exacerbated financial instability. Prosperity itself is being undone by this allegiance to growth at all costs.”
Tim Jackson is Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey in the UK.
Tackling climate change and driving growth
The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment was established by the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2008 to create a world-leading research centre. It brings together international expertise on economics, finance, geography, the environment, international development and political economy.
In an era of growing inequality and accelerating climate change, Lord Stern will discuss the changing role of business and the opportunities presented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals to deliver a new economic model founded on sustainable and equitable growth.“
“The commitment of young people to tackle climate change is our hope for the future and we have a duty to respond to their call for strong and urgent action.”
Watch the interview with Lord Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Growth narratives – exploring the impact of storytelling on future growth
The stories people tell about economic confidence or panic have a significant effect on economic outcomes – whether in relation to market trends such as housing booms, abstract ideas such as the American dream or disruptive technologies such as Bitcoin. Ideas can "go viral" whether they are true or false – transmitted by word of mouth, by journalists and increasingly by social media. In doing so, they drive our decision-making and ultimately the economy.
In this session, Nobel laureate Prof. Robert J. Shiller, Sven Afhüppe and Christian Sewing discuss how narratives can drive economic growth, and what our role could be in developing and driving these narratives.
“Europe needs another revival of the ‘One Europe‘ narrative, to encourage trust and hope, which might then be self-actualizing and a boost to economic growth.”
Watch the interview with Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics, Department of Economics & Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, and Professor of Finance and Fellow at the International Center for Finance, Yale School of Management.
“If Europe wants to have a voice and be taken seriously a new narrative is required that extends beyond peacekeeping.”
Watch the interview with Sven Afhüppe, chief editor of the business and financial newspaper Handelsblatt
Un/sustainable growth – What can we do to avoid the point of no return?
Damage to the environment is more likely to be irreversible if tipping points are reached. In the eyes of many scientists, such points are close, if not already past.
Companies are urgently being asked to integrate sustainability principles into their businesses and some are starting to do so – for example, by developing green products, motivating their employees to save energy and reducing levels of waste.
Such activities can help to capture value through growth and return on capital, but are they enough? What do we and our companies need to change, if the environmental tipping points are to be avoided? And can sustainability in itself become a growth driver?
“We can be a systemic force for good - and sustainability itself can become a new driver of growth and prosperity.”
Watch the interview with Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer AG
“If we don’t have a fair and just solution, we’re not going to have a solution”
Larry Fink is Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, Inc.
“We are rapidly leaving the familiar Holocene climate behind us. Ignoring the danger would be more than foolish.”
Watch the interview with Stefan Rahmstorf, Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam University and head of the Earth System Analysis department of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.