20 February 2023

Highlights from the 2023 World Economic Forum

This January, world leaders from the public and private sectors, academics and civil society gathered in Davos to examine the theme: “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”. Richard Baldwin, Director of the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI) and Professor of International Economics went to the conference and shared some of his thoughts.

As a regular advisor to governments and international organisations on globalisation and trade policy issues, Richard Baldwin is no stranger to the World Economic Forum (WEF). From an academic’s perspective, he pointed out that the topics of discussions at Davos involve people who are pioneers in relevant fields. 

“Davos is really about meeting amazing people and getting provoked, hearing perspectives that you didn't anticipate”, he explained. “I don't think I learned that much when it came to international economics, but I did learn stuff from all sorts of other areas from really switched on people.”

In between moderating, listening and meeting different stakeholders, Professor Baldwin captured prominent personalities in what he called the #ShamlessSelfiesWEF23 series, giving his Twitter followers a challenge in figuring out the people with whom he took a selfie. The smiling selfies featured Director General of the World Trade Organization Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and even John Kerry, American politician and diplomat currently serving as the United States' first Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change. 

Once inside the WEF meeting, Prof. Baldwin compared it to a “university campus where you can talk to absolutely anybody because you're both at the same uni. There is some kind of camaraderie.” While the WEF often recruits staff from the Institute’s graduates, Baldwin pointed out that for students interested in joining future forums, becoming a change-maker in your field is one of the ways to engage with WEF stakeholders. 

A Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate launched during the conference, involving over 50 ministers of trade and representing a diversity of countries from all regions and levels of development. The coalition, led by trade ministers from Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya, and New Zealand, seeks to provide high-level leadership and guidance to boost inclusive international cooperation on the nexus of climate, trade and sustainable development. The Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS), a partnership between the Institute and the UN Environment Programme hosted within CTEI’s Geneva Trade Platform (GTP), worked with the co-leads on the creation of their coalition. TESS Director Carolyn Deere Birkbeck was invited to moderate the landmark launch.

At Geneva Day, hosted by House of Switzerland in Davos, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck also moderated the opening high-level panel on “Beat Plastic Pollution: Delivering Systems Change with Speed and Scale”, which featured keynote remarks from Swiss President Alain Berset and Ecuadorian President, Guillermo Lasso.