Insights from WEF 2024: Are the World Economic Forum and COPs the significant Avenues for Tanzania?

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international organization that aims to improve the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. It was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a business professor at the University of Geneva.

Initially, the organization was called the European Management Forum and focused on how European firms could catch up with US management practices. The first Annual Meeting was held in Davos, Switzerland, in 1971, and it has since become the organization’s flagship event.

The Forum is best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, where numerous business, government, and civil society leaders gather to consider the significant global issues of the day and brainstorm solutions to address these challenges. The Forum engages the most experienced and promising, all working together in the collaborative and collegial ‘Spirit of Davos’.

The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) was held in Dubai between 30th November to 10th December of 2023. This is one of the United Nations Climate Change Conferences held in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework. The first COP meeting (COP1) was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995.

It is about 28 years between then and now, hence the essence of the numbers such as COP1, COP2, and so on. The venue of the COP shifts among the five recognized UN regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and others. The COP28 was expected to provide a milestone opportunity for the world to come together, course correct, and drive progress to keep 1.5C within reach – so we can meet the goals and ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

The discussion of the COP28 ultimately did not end there but was resurrected in Davos from 15-19 January 2024 under the World Economic Forum (WEF). It is worth noting that the COPs and WEF differ in their formation but meet how they function globally. Although the Dubai COP seamlessly achieved some of the targets, the Davos WEF also has emerged with good news.

Nearly 3,000 policy-makers, business executives, international organizations, civil society leaders, academics and innovators convened for this eventful global venture. This WEF conference happened during this critical moment when the world is fractured and healing in despair.

Since the world has not recovered well from the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the Russia- Ukraine crisis continues, leaving alone the ongoing Israel and Palestine war, which is taking a toll day by day; some military coups in different countries are intensifying, drastic solutions are urgently needed.

As if that is not enough, climate change continues at its best to consume uninterrupted like a bushfire across four cardinal directions. With hopes and belief in the WEF as a driving engine, the meeting came at the very right time when there is an imperative need to find a solution for the existing and escalating problems on the global face.

Therefore, this year, 2024, the conference was focused on four pressing facets for healing the global situation as it stands now. Attaining peace and security, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Economic growth and trade and Climate, nature and energy are the themes that subjugated the debate. These were among the tenacious issues on the outlook for the world economy.

Climate, nature, and energy themes came to the attention of this important meeting, and herein, the discussion will explore this matter. As a gravity of all sectors, the topic attracts much devotion and is patiently worth discussing. Here, the global leaders and activists focused on driving energy efficiencies and addressing energy demand while protecting and restoring nature.

As things get hot on both sides, the energy crisis becomes unbearable while demand is just on the steering seat. At the same time, climate change is becoming rampant at its best.

Leaving alone some other geopolitical issues and discussions, environmental and sustainability aspects saw some green lights at this conference. It was a moment of hope, and although it is just like a drop of water in an ocean, its contribution should not be ignored in pushing this agenda further.

The Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) initiative announced new commitments to unlock billions of dollars to finance climate and nature solutions. About 3+ billion dollars will be released by GAEA, which brings together Public, Private, and Philanthropic Funding to finance the needed annual budget for equitable Climate and nature solutions. This amount is required to boost a move to reach net zero, reverse nature loss and restore biodiversity by 2050.

The meeting also witnessed the attendance of prominent figures. Among them were Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank, and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF. Both were involved in discussing carbon emissions, nature protection, climate change, and adaptation.

This was a very commended support from these heads of prominent and essential global bodies. It marked another milestone towards a global effort to combat the impacts of climate change. Adaptation mechanisms indicated the commitment of Global North and South combined efforts in this respect. Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated, “Capacity building is one way to ensure that Africa remains up-to-speed with global developments, especially in these times of crisis”.

What is Tanzania’s Stake in the WEF Regarding Climate Change?

In this prominent conference (WEF), The African countries and Tanzania as a country hold a stake. The current global landscape does not allow working in isolation, and indeed, some issues are cross-cutting; therefore, Tanzania is not exclusive. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an example of one of the burning issues discussed across sectors and under the climate change agenda.

The world has increased appreciation of the role of AI in various areas of environmental management and resource utilization; it has also witnessed the efficiency and need to adapt and continue the technology.

The Private Sector Action Plan, a first-of-its-kind initiative between the World Economic Forum and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, was also launched during this meeting.

In addressing the conference in Davos, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, reiterated that “We cannot address global inequality by mitigating crises as they happen. We need to involve developing countries from the beginning. There are tools available for Africa to deal with crises as well.

READ RELATED: AfCFTA Revival: Ghana and Tanzania Forge Trade Engagement Towards the Promised Land.

The initiative is comprised of 40 global companies that support youth dynamism initiatives in Africa with an initial budget of 1 billion dollars under the Timbuktoo initiative. This is a big chunk of money from which Tanzania can benefit and invest in sustainable youth activities.

The fund is projected to provide financial support to innovative and dynamic startups, stimulating economic growth, job creation and technological advancements across the continent. The means to tap this opportunity is now a remaining task to be facilitated by the government and other private stakeholders to see the realization of these financing mechanisms on the ground. Whether there is an option for individuals to lobby and get access, it is high time to focus lenses on this regard since this funding is intended for startups in Africa.

The WEF 2024 meeting also discussed how the continent of Africa can leverage the potential of frictionless trade and engagement to become a significant player in global supply chains. African delegations deliberated on how to scale the African economy and ring the alarm on the policy and public-private partnerships that could rapidly scale the African economy. This also is an entry through which Tanzania can benefit.

Global trade, particularly in energy, is unstable, and Africa is rising, meaning that many businesses and logistics are likely to multiply in African soil, including Tanzania. The sleeping giant will increase, and there is a need to get the way right in the right way under the global business system.

The sustainable logistics and clean energy paths can be revised and re-emphasized to tap the increasing potential at a global scale. The engagement of Tanzania in these multinational and multilateral events is opening many doors through which the country can see and manipulate the opportunities unveiled through these platforms. We hope these opportunities will open sustainable development and bridge global inequality through WEF, a necessary development vehicle.

We must continue the climate change and adaptation agenda, but we also need a push within to finance several local initiatives as a lesson learned from WEF 2024. An ambitious plan is underway for policy support for Starts Ups in Tanzania, and recently, it has witnessed an increasing start increase. These igniting sparks need to be powered to stretch to their maximum potential.

The demography of Tanzania should take advantage of the booming population, with about 70% of youth under 30 years of age who are early adopters and innovators. According to Rodgers, the innovators and Early adopters are better educated, eager for social mobility, empathetic, have less dogmatism, and have a more positive attitude towards change and risks.

Additionally, innovators are risk-takers and the first to try new ideas and technologies. In our case in Tanzania, we have examples of the Ufunguo initiative and the Tanzania Startup Association, operating within and powering innovators and early adopters. Recent research in Tanzania indicates that 25.9% of startups are professional services and consulting, including software; agriculture tech is about 16.7%, while fintech is 7.2%.

The momentum is quite convincing, and with the continued efforts to tap from regional and global players, Tanzania is likely to attain higher ascertain of climate-smart investments. The abundant resources, innovation, and technology powered by a young demography structure will likely benefit the country. Geopolitics also supports investment in clean technology and intelligent investment, as the WEF 2024 emphasized.

Dr. Emanueli Ndossi, a seasoned EIA and EA Expert, directs J & Enviroconsult (T) Ltd, with over a decade of experience. His expertise covers Project Management, Monitoring, and Evaluation (M&E) for comprehensive environmental assessments. Dr. Ndossi, with impactful roles in WCST, TFCG, and the University of Queensland, has shaped conservation efforts work spans diverse sectors, contributing to sustainable practices in tourism and conservation. Dr. Ndossi holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Göttingen and an M.Sc. in Environmental Management from the University of Queensland. His active engagement in organizations like ISIE, Carbon Lab, Soil Science Society of Germany, WCST, and FCC showcases his significant contributions to the environmental field.

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