Inclusive finance and corporate governance to be focuses for Davos

The World Economic Forum will discuss the development of a corporate governance framework

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A corporate governance framework focused on long-term value creation will be one of four focus areas at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos next week, its managing director and board member Richard Samans said yesterday.

Samans, who stressed that the meeting was not an “ivory tower exercise”, said the WEF had identified four focus areas to concentrate on at the meeting: a new growth framework, making market-based economies more inclusive, the fourth industrial revolution and effective global co-operation.

Around the topic of inclusive economies, he said there would be active discussion around a corporate governance framework that re-focused boards, management teams and investment communities on long-term value creation.

He also spoke of the development of a new best practice handbook for boards on managing risks associated with the fourth industrial revolution – the trend of rapid technological change such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

Samans, who is also chairman of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, was speaking in London this week at the launch of the WEF annual Global Risks Report, a survey of 750 thought leaders on global trends and economic risks.

The report identifies inequality and polarisation as the top drivers of global risk over the next ten years, adding that reviving economic growth and reforming market capitalism are vital responses.

Other key challenges highlighted in the survey are environmental-related risks such as climate change, managing technological change and strengthening global cooperation.The Global Risks Report 2017 was developed with Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan Companies and Zurich Insurance Group.

Speaking at its launch, Cecilia Reyes, Chief Risk Officer of Zurich Insurance Group said: “We live in disruptive times where technological progress also creates challenges. Without proper governance and re-skilling of workers, technology will eliminate jobs faster than it creates them. Governments can no longer provide historical levels of social protection and an anti-establishment narrative has gained traction, with new political leaders blaming globalisation for society’s challenges, creating a vicious cycle in which lower economic growth will only amplify inequality. Cooperation is essential to avoid the further deterioration of government finances and the exacerbation of social unrest.”

She added that a new type of collaboration would be needed to address social issues, “issues of social protection can’t be the burden of individual. We need the business sector, private sector and the state to work together to provide for a social safety net to address social instability”.

These issues, and other pressing global risks will be discussed at the World Economic Forum next week under the theme ‘responsive and responsible leadership’. Co-chairs this year include Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO of Bank of America and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International. President Xi Jinping will reportedly be the first Chinese leader to attend.