Davos 2019

Davos Daily Review: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Austria's Sebastian Kurz, Canada's Chrystia Freeland

Guterres called climate change the 'most important global systemic threat in relation to the global economy'

Day three of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland featured speeches from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

Guterres called for a multilateral response to the world’s greatest problems. He specifically addressed climate change, which he called the “most important global systemic threat in relation to the global economy.”

“Climate change is running faster than we are. And we have this paradox: The reality is proving to be worse than scientists had foreseen, and all the last indicators show that. We are moving dramatically into a runaway climate change if we are not able to stop it, and at the same time, I see the political will slowing down,” Guterres said.
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Guterres’ comments echoed a landmark report the United Nations published last year, which said that human civilization is on track to severely harm the planet.

Kurz, a conservative best known for fostering an alliance between his party and the country’s far right, discussed ways to make Europe more financially dynamic. Besides cutting bureaucracy and deregulating, Kurz said that Europe needs to curb migration, settle trade conflict with the United States, and avoid a “hard Brexit.”

“I will plead that we do everything to avoid a hard Brexit. This would not only damage the U.K. but be very damaging to Europe as well,” Kurz said.

Several prominent female leaders, including Freeland and Bachelet, spoke on a panel titled “Female Leadership at a Tipping Point?” about the importance of supporting women in positions of power.

Freeland told an anecdote about the impact of additional women in the Canadian cabinet.

“One of my colleagues, who had been in a previous liberal cabinet, he was sitting beside me and he said, ‘You know, it’s really interesting prime minister, but in the previous cabinets I’ve been a minister in, it was incredibly confrontational, even people yelling at each other… I don’t know why it’s different that way,'” Freeland recounted.

“All of the women in the room just laughed, and we said – because it’s 50% women could be a reason.”

Bachelet said she believes she was not taken seriously as a political contender when she was Chile’s Minister of Health because the position cast her in a more feminine role that emphasizes caring for others.

“But when I became minister of defense, this started changing things,” Bachelet said.

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