David Sangokoya, Head of Civil Society Impact, World Economic Forum, and Louise Thompson, Community Lead, Civil Society, World Economic Forum.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, geopolitical rifts, and now a recession, civil society leaders continue to tirelessly serve those in need.
From advocates for racial and gender liberties to nonprofit groups helping their communities keep lights on and food on the table, it’s hard to overstate their resilience, especially when faced with the same problems they’re trying to solve for others.
This sustainability is a testament to the courage of civil society leadership around the world, driven by the actions of governments and businesses that recognize the importance of civic space and invest in the future of civic engagement.
Building resilience and finding cooperation in a fragmented world is central to this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.
Civil society is at the core of multilateral cooperation, with business, government and coalitions providing meaningful influence and equitable solutions.
General agenda for Davos 2023
Despite the diversity of their missions, civil society leaders attending the Annual Meeting share a common vision for achieving social progress in the coming year and are bringing three common agendas to the Davos table:
1. Striving for justice in the face of growing crisis.
If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that the importance of pursuing racial, climate, and digital equity is not inevitable. Civil society leaders attending Davos this year know this.
In the US, black families still receive 13 cents for every dollar that white families earn. When it comes to income, health, quality of education and incarceration, black Americans have only improved by 0.1% since 2020.
Issues of racial inequality are not unique to the United States, and they often overlap with climate justice and the digital divide. The most vulnerable segments of society are the most affected by climate events and the least digitally included—so solving one of these issues often means solving them all.
The announcement of a new loss and damage fund at COP27, following significant civil society mobilization, was a positive step forward on the climate front – but without agreed action to phase out and phase out fossil fuel use, climate justice can fail. still protecting the vulnerable.
More than 46% of the world’s population does not have reliable, affordable access to the Internet. From education to health to finance, internet access is an essential part of civic life. Without it, marginalized communities will be left behind, inequality based on race or identity will increase, and climate sustainability will be hindered.
Confronting racial, climate and digital inequality is the common ground of all civil society leaders attending Davos. During the meeting, they will bring together efforts such as the Global Health Network, the Inclusive Trade and Investment Initiative, the Natural Asset Agenda, the Global Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship and the Development of Indigenous Knowledge and Leadership Network, as well as a series of sessions. aimed at eliminating social disadvantages.
2. Protecting an economic future that matters to all.
About 70% of CEOs in the United States agree that environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles improve financial performance. However, as inflation persists and the recession deepens, 59% of CEOs plan to pause or revise their ESG commitments, and 51% plan to lay off employees.
The pending 2023 recession will test the private sector’s commitment to social responsibility. Civil society, consumer groups, and champions of corporate citizenship continue to push for worker-focused protections, corporate environmental responsibility, and consumer-inclusive solutions to the energy crisis similar to the pandemic.
During the COP27 and COP15 meetings, the mobilization of civil society highlighted the need to accelerate just transitions across economies. Social inclusion with quality jobs and the transition to net-zero does not happen by default or by a single actor; trade unions, consumer groups, indigenous leaders and other local communities are key stakeholders who can shape these transitions and avoid “just a transitional wash”.
This is especially important in emerging markets and developing economies, many of which face limited resources and access to investment.
Civil society leaders attending Davos are focused on economic equality – whether that means upskilling and upskilling or providing new, quality jobs where those in need live.
In Davos, civil society leaders will join forces, including 100 Million Farmers, the Work Consortium, the Refugee Employment and Employment Initiative and a range of stakeholders on climate action, biodiversity loss, food systems, just transition, oceans and water. initiatives.
3. Protection of civil liberties and human rights.
According to a recent CIVICUS report on the state of civil society, the past three years have seen both progress and regress in respect for civil liberties and human rights.
Women’s movements have spurred significant policy changes on sexual and reproductive rights in San Marino, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico – in stark contrast to developments in the US and Poland. Civil society activism has also led to the repeal of discriminatory laws against LGBTQI+ people in Jamaica, Singapore and Chile. The easing of Covid-19 restrictions has brought a significant regional and global dimension to human rights movements, as activists have taken to the streets, even in places where freedom of association, speech and assembly are threatened.
But the recent brutal killings of Mahsa Amini, Mar’Quis Jackson, Claudia Diaz Perez, Edwin Chiloba, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini have made all marginalized groups—including women, LGBTQI+ people, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees—continue to face to face.
Civil liberties and human rights are fundamental to the ideals of all civil society leaders attending this year’s Annual Meeting, regardless of their identity. During the meeting, they will contribute to several sessions, including Gender Parity for Economic Recovery, Managing LGBTQI+ Resilience Through Justice, 75 Years of Human Rights Accounting, and Maintaining Trust, as well as the Forum’s ongoing engagement on these issues within the multilateral framework. stakeholder initiatives.
Civil society in Davos and beyond
Leaders from NGOs, media, social enterprises, academia, trade unions, indigenous communities, faith-based and religious groups will represent civil society in Davos and join other leaders to find important steps forward in the midst of overlapping crises.
From racial justice to economic empowerment and the climate crisis to improved health, the shared visions and agendas of these leaders will bring a powerful message to this year’s Annual Meeting.