The second day of the of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday featured a wide variety of international leaders and business figures, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Prince William and Jack Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Chinese technology conglomerate Alibaba.
The forum was Merkel’s first since she announced that she intends to step down in 2021. Merkel, who is often described as the de facto leader of Europe and is a strong proponent of liberal policies, devoted her speech to speaking about the importance of preserving the international order. She said that institutions had helped to decrease poverty dramatically since the 1970s.
“There is a new approach that we see in the world today- an approach that harbors great doubts as to the validity of the international system. They say – shouldn’t we look after our own? Shouldn’t we look after our own interests first? And then, out of that, develop an order that is good. I have my grave doubts that this is the right way to go about it,” Merkel said.
Meanwhile, Abe used his speech to discuss the importance of technology, including to fight climate change. He also echoed Merkel by discussing the importance of a “free, open, and rules-based international order.”
“When people say these days, ‘Oh, compromise is something that one shouldn’t accept, it’s bad, it’s negative,’ I must say – very clearly and unequivocally – a global architecture will only work if we, all of us, are ready and willing to compromise,” Abe said.
Both Ardern and Prince William spoke about the importance of emphasizing mental health.
“Business should take this on – not only for their moral imperative, but their economic imperative,” Aldern said.
Prince William discussed his own experience with mental health issues.
“When I started feeling issues myself, it was from my air ambulance work – I was dealing with a lot of trauma on a day-in, day-out basis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ma, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, warned that technology could cause another “world war” – or change the world for the better.
“Don’t be evil is not enough. We should do good things for the world. Do good things for the future,” Ma said.