Next year, the World Economic Forum will turn 50. An interesting fact when you juxtapose it with the fact that according to the WWF the earth has lost over 50% of its biodiversity in the last 50 years. Each year the leaders that meet at Davos discuss global risks and yet it appears we have not been able to address what is now the number one risk for humanity, ‘Extreme weather events’ due largely to climate change. Why one might ask, has the ‘Davos Man’ failed to address this? Is it because extreme weather events are likely to impact the under privileged disproportionately? The question remains, how can we address this paradox?
I have now been to Davos on and off for 15 years and the one question that has always been at the top of my mind is, “How can we take the ideas that are discussed at Davos and bring it to the average person?”.
Could classrooms hold the key? After all, it is in classrooms that 3 billion young minds are being shaped today. “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.”
So it might seem obvious that youth under 25 around the world, and in particular those who are still in school should both influence and be influenced by the conversations at Davos. Yet, I see a huge disconnect. School teachers and curricula continue to use outdated methods, that leave students with an inadequate understanding of the global village we live in. In my interactions in classrooms around the world, I have often found that not even in the most well resourced schools in the most developed countries of the world are teachers able to grasp and communicate this new reality. Why is this the case?
There are many reasons why. It is a fact that most senior teachers today went to teacher training schools 20-40 years ago,
precisely the time frame during which the world has been changing at a rate greater than ever before. For instance, like many of us, even our teachers are driven by the media and politics, that highlight the migration challenges without an in-depth analysis of the role of developed economies. Many in these developed economies believe, problems such as human migration and the poverty that many ex-colonies find themselves in, are self inflicted. Teachers and media alike are quick to highlight issues of equity, corruption, poor governance etc. as the fundamental reasons behind the economic challenges faced by these societies. They are wrong.
In my panel discussion on “Collaboration for better education”, I stressed the need to ‘educate’ youth in developed nations on the devastating economic and environmental impact of two centuries of indiscriminate industrialisation, coupled with crushing colonialism. Unfortunately this part of history is often conveniently glossed over while highlighting the ‘scientific revolution’. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence”, but we continue to inflict it on on those that live the most sustainable lifestyles on the planet. The ‘mission civilizatrise’ failed to acknowledge the wisdom of ancient cultures, that managed resources sustainably. This wisdom now needs to be used to educate the ‘developed’ world to mitigate the biggest risk we face today.
We need to work hard to make sure that sustainable development goals or SDG’s become not merely something our children hear about, but transform our education systems to make the SDG’s the very purpose of education.
The goal of sustainability cannot be achieved by addressing environmental risks alone. Without addressing income inequality, migration, gender equity and a host of other issues true sustainability cannot be achieved. All risks are deeply interconnected and the solution lies in a holistic approach. Only then, can we expect things to change not just for our next generation, but for generations to come.
by Satyadeep Rajan
‘Davos moments’ as the regulars call them, are when somethings unexpected and big happen to you – meeting a personal hero, or saving a head of state from slipping on the ice. As Davos week winds down, the ritual is to exchange one’s Davos moments with others over drinks. Just as I thought this year would go by without a Davos moment, the moment came. And it was, literally, the best ever!
As this was not my first Davos experience, I had grown accustomed to the usual noise on the global economy and the need for greater partnerships and the PR announcements to kick off ambitious projects aimed at ‘improving the state of the world’. The usual media frenzy regularly came up with headlines like « Global elite descend on Davos », “Global economy at risk due to climate change” and so on like it was really “news”. Very few of the news media usually show up at the World Economic Forum Open Forum, which is open to public at the local school auditorium. Most don’t know it even exists! Emotionally intense moments that move you to tears are not what I had come to expect at Davos.
My team and I from Swiss Learning Exchange had decided to attend the WEF’s Open Forum session – The Price of Free. The session details said: Join Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in a special screening of the documentary, The Price of Free, portraying his fight against child slavery in his home country of India and now around the world.
I started Swiss Learning Exchange to do our part in helping people cope with the fast-changing world around us. In that spirit, I was keen to hear Kailash Satyarthi speak, but I sat at the edge of the row unsure of whether I should watch a 90 minute documentary at Davos. I could potentially have watched it later and instead headed out to network at the many private events and parties all around Davos. After the first couple of minutes, I was completely spellbound, as was the rest of the audience, riveted to Satyarthi’s amazing story.
After the screening, as Kailash Satyarthi walked on to the stage, what followed was nothing short of extraordinary. Hands were raised, slogans were shouted and tears were rolling in a packed audience of Swiss people – old and young – as the Indian Nobel Peace Laureate’s story touched not only their minds but the hearts of everyone in the local alpine school auditorium. Regardless of which language the session was followed in, in English, French or German, everybody was inspired by his example and his call to action.
A Swiss teenager from the audience, Jakub, said “I would like to thank you for sharing the love, the power, the ambition.” Jakub got emotional and his voice quivered just a bit as he continued, “So great, what you did, where did you get this power and this ambition from, how did you survive all these bad things you have seen?”, to which Satyarthi responded:
“I draw the power from you. I am not a politician, am not religious leader, am not a monk, am as ordinary as any of you are. I count on the power of you. Be my friend, not my follower!”
But the real ‘Davos moment’ came as Satyarthi was leaving the room, and it was nothing short of a spiritual experience in the mountains. Another Swiss teenager, Jonas did what we all wanted to do – give Kailash Satyarthi a big heartfelt hug and thank him for his amazing work. As he hugged him, Jonas was overcome with emotion, an intense moment that we were lucky enough to capture on our cameras and phones.
Jonas allowed his pent up emotions to overflow in a spontaneous expression of love and compassion for Satyarthi’s cause. Jonas, I do not know who are you and how to reach you but if you watch this and if you are reading this, know that I shared your emotions as you hugged Kailash Satyarthi.
Globalization 4.0 was the theme set by the WEF at Davos in 2019. We at Swiss Learning Exchange watched first-hand how Kailash Satyarthi moved the Swiss youth at Davos towards a globalization of compassion. This is the kind of ‘Davos Men’ I hope Jakub and Jonas will become someday.
Price of Free has been produced by Participant Media and directed by Derek Doneen and is a Youtube Original. Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. For the past forty years, the World Economic Forum is best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. Since 2003, its Open Forum convenes in January at the local Swiss Alpine School in the heart of Davos. They want to encourage dialogue and spread awareness on critical issues to the global economy . It is an open-debate format that is publicly accessible to local audiences in Switzerland and to global audiences via their website. Kailash Satyarthi asked us to become part of his 100 Million global movement. #100Miliion #100MilCampaign #compassion #slxlearning
Allow us to introduce you to Mr. Mohandas Pai, a very prominent influencer, philanthropist and tech founder in India. We are very happy that he liked our work that told a story on the innovation scene in the social sector in India.
Here is to more learning and exchange.
Thanks very much. This means a lot to us https://t.co/hqHMapTfZj
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) December 19, 2018
How can one organisation address all of these SDGs? This holiday season, watch our SLX Story. When business and empathy come together, miracles do happen. It is innovative, it is kind and it will warm your heart. Coming soon , en Français , in Deutsch and in English.
Wie kann eine Organisation alle diese SDGs behandeln? In dieser Weihnachtszeit sehen Sie sich unsere SLX Story an. Wenn Geschäft und Empathie zusammenkommen, werden Wunder vollbracht. Es ist innovativ, es ist freundlich und es wird Ihr Herz erwärmen. Coming Soon, en Français, in Deutsch und in Englisch.
Que fait une seule organisation pour aborder tous ces ODD ? Ce Noël, regardez notre SLX Story. Quand le monde des affaires et l’empathie se rencontrent, des miracles se manifestent. Une histoire innovante, c’est sympa et vous réchauffera le cœur. Prochainement, en français, in Deutsch et in English. #slxlearning #sustainabledevelopment
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