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Davos Daily Review: Jane Goodall, Income Inequality and Climate Change

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The final day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, featured discussions on issues of equality, migration and climate change. Speakers included Executive Director of Oxfam, Winnie Banyema, anthropologist Jane Goodall, Executive Director of the International Energy Authority, Faith Birol, Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

A panel addressing inequality was moderated by Edward Felsenthal, TIME Editor-in-Chief and CEO, who said it is the issue that was most widely discussed during the Forum and asked panelists whether they are seeing any movements towards addressing it.

Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam and former Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program said: “Inequality is out of control so talking about it is not good enough.” She discussed how top income rates have decreased and what the impact has been. “A lot of the taxes on wealth have been abolished in many countries. Because they don’t collect those taxes, they don’t put enough money into health, education and social protection to their people so public services are crumbling,” she said.

“We want business to commit to good tax behavior. Not to dodge paying their fair share of taxes. We want government’s to tax fairly.”

Anthropologist Jane Goodall, considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, highlighted climate change and the damage humans have inflicted on the world. “A lot of that is due to poverty,” she said.

“If you are living in a rural part of Africa and you are out near the environment, you are going to cut down the last trees on a steep slope even though you know it’s going to cause erosion because you have got to grow food to feed your family or make charcoal,” she explained.

“Unless we do something to alleviate poverty, then there is no way we can save chimpanzees or the forests.”

Climate change was also discussed by Executive Director of the International Energy Authority, Faith Birol, who said the world must urgently reduce emissions in order to reach the 1.5 degree temperature increase goal outlined under the Paris climate agreement. “The biggest problem today is coal,” he said. “The oil and gas industry cannot escape from the responsibility of fighting against climate change,” he added.

On migration, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund, Natalia Kanem, said that migration needs to be addressed by all sectors. “It is not just an issue for a particular arm of a particular government.”

The world needs “to understand how to invest in young people,” she added.

Among the final speakers of the day was Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, who discussed the goals of the World Economic Forum. “We will be looking ahead to improve the state of the world for the next 50 years,” he said.

“We cannot solve the most pressing global challenges without a unique partnership between governments, business and civil society.”

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