Sifting Headlines and Undercurrents

[This post originally appeared at Forum: Blog]

This year’s Annual Meeting in Davos takes place at a time when nearly every major global policy topic is clouded by concerns of macroeconomic fragility. In the days ahead, I’ll be tracking those issues as closely as any other warm-blooded economist, but I’ll mainly be on the lookout for advances on other global undercurrents, especially those relating to inequality, sustainability and social renewal.

One big question is the extent to which the 2011 “Occupy” and “99%” movements infuse early conversations in 2012. The protestors’ media footprint may be in winter hibernation, but plans are reportedly underway for a spring ramp-up, targeting the US election season in particular. Last year, the protests spurred debates around the globe on core issues of policy fairness. While many question the protestors’ methods, they have received public support from global economic heavyweights ranging from George Soros, the financier and philanthropist, to Mark Carney, the Canadian Central Bank Governor and Chairman of the Financial Stability Board. I’m wondering how mindful people are of the possibilities for a deepening economic protest movement in the months ahead?Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

As ever, I’ll also be focused on how longer-term issues of extreme poverty and sustainability are discussed. The Millennium Development Goals are entering the final phase before the 2015 deadline and this year will see a major environmental focus at the UN’s June Rio+20 summit. Around the world, conversations are taking shape on how a next generation of post-2015 goals could “get to zero” against extreme poverty while more robustly advancing environmental sustainability and equality of opportunity. Some hope Rio+20 will map out new “sustainable development goals”. If done right, such goals could improve significantly on MDG gaps. If framed too broadly, they risk losing the focus that has made the MDGs successful.

Perhaps the most important innovation I’m interested to see this week is the new Global Shapers Community. To the Forum’s credit, it has launched a major effort to invite 20-something year olds from around the world who are already pioneering major contributions in their societies. I have a pet theory that, despite increasing life expectancies, the average age of societal leaders is on a long-term decline, due mainly to the advances in technology. In between the heady formal sessions, let’s hope the wiser elders take time to grab coffee and share insights with the young innovators standing next to them.