The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting commencing in Davos today convenes under the very apposite title ‘Rebuilding Trust’. Trust is the essential ingredient without which human societies – and the global community – simply cannot function. However, in today’s divided and increasingly conflictual world, trust is a commodity in critically short supply. Moreover, societies afflicted by out-of-control inequality and economic injustice – as many of our societies are today – inevitably become less stable and more dysfunctional. While some of those attending Davos are themselves drivers of inequality, injustice and division, we want to believe that many others are genuinely committed to exercising their considerable influence to promote a greater measure of justice and peace in the world.

In this context, the four key themes identified for this meeting certainly address very topical issues for the world today:

  • Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World
  • Creating Growth and Jobs for a New Era
  • Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society
  • A Long-Term Strategy for Climate, Nature and Energy

But once again, rebuilding trust and addressing injustice will be essential preconditions for progress in any of these areas. And underlying everything, a renewed ethical foundation must inform decision-making on such important matters and at such a critical historical juncture.

Given the unprecedented constellation of global crises – especially of climate, conflict and economic inequality – there is an urgent need for cooperation and action, rather than division and unconstructive competition. The Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum gathers key decision-makers in the fields of politics, economics and business. The power of this gathering must be leveraged for rebuilding trust and the renewal of commitment to multilateral cooperation in facing these crises, not only in the short-term interests of a privileged few but for the longer-term good of all people and our common home.

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
General Secretary
World Council of Churches