A cohesive and sustainable world

Next week I’ll be in Davos for the 2020 World Economic Forum. I’ll be attending debates and speaking on a panel about how businesses can understand and harness the value of natural capital.

The theme for this year’s Forum is ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’. This builds on the original Code of Ethics on which the World Economic Forum was founded in 1973 – emphasising that as well as serving clients, shareholders and employees, businesses must also serve wider society, assuming the role of a ‘trustee of the material universe’.

4IR and the universal purpose of a company

Last year’s manifesto identified the evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) as a time of fundamental transformation and called for a redesign of the processes and institutions which have until now served us well, maintained peace and delivered progress.

Having established 4IR as the context within which businesses are now operating, this year’s manifesto examines the modern-day role and purpose of companies – including how they meet their customers’ needs, how they treat their workers, how they serve wider society and create true value.

New projects

Two important new initiatives will be launched in Davos this year; the ‘Reskilling Revolution Platform’, which seeks to provide better education and relevant skills to one billion people by 2030, in line with the changes brought on by 4IR; and the ‘Champions for a Trillion Trees Platform’, seeking to accelerate global reforestation by planting one trillion trees over the next decade.

UpLink and the SDGs

This year will also see the launch of Uplink, a new digital platform designed to integrate and amplify global efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will serve to ensure that those working towards the SDGs are aligned, helping people to collaborate and take their projects and ideas to a global level.

The platform will be previewed in Davos, and will initially contain a small set of action groups focused on ocean conservation, in line with SDG 14, ‘Life Below Water’.

ICAEW remains a passionate supporter of the UN SDGs, and we’re proud to be part of the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development. (UKSSD) – a national network of organisations which shares knowledge and uses a collective voice to drive action on the Goals. You can visit our Global Goals Hub for more information on our SDG activities.

As ever, I look forward to representing the accountancy profession and taking advantage of what Davos has to offer - engaging in opportunities for global collaboration, and helping businesses to work constructively and cohesively to build a better and more sustainable world.

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