Davos 2011: The Biggest Risk is Forgetting about Opportunities
David van Reybrouck is a Belgian author. He has written a magnificent book about Congo and its awful history. The beauty of the book is that he has managed to talk to real people with first hand experience to illustrate the world’s incapacity and unwillingness to deal with issues. Issues, that in essence, are quite solvable. We simply didn't care enough. And the consequences for millions have been devastating.
It is a great reminder that not caring to solve solvable issues is a tragedy and is unforgivable. Today is not different when so many leaders go to this unique place, Davos. The agenda looks promising, but more than full. The atmosphere is cautious for some, quite ambitious for others. Global risk is high on the agenda and tomorrow I am going to be on the panel that discusses the risks. And there are plenty of risks to talk about: security, economic growth, energy, poverty, demographics...
My two cents: the biggest risk is forgetting about opportunities! The world in the West seems to reward the "glass is half empty" folks. They are considered more in fashion than people like me, "the glass is half full" people.
Funnily enough, in the emerging world it is the other way around. I do see risks sharply, and I am not happy about many almost defensive reactions to those risks. Closing the mental and political curtains is not what is required. I believe we should re-energize the world a bit and get on with it.
Finally, I agree that the Doha rounds and getting world trade really going, and a Global Climate Change treaty are essential. Those are energizers, drivers of opportunity. That would be actions of leaders who care. Davos brings leaders of all walks of life together. Let's see if they can create some momentum today.
Ben Verwaayen is CEO of Alcatel-Lucent and a Member of the World Economic Forum’s Foundation Board.