Rise of emerging markets is world's biggest trend - WEF survey

Global Agenda opportunity to get inputs from other domains: Schwab

The rise of emerging markets, especially China and India, will be the biggest trend to impact the global economy,  a survey of 570 leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Dubai, showed.

The global power shift, reflected in the formation of G20, will continue to be a leading issue over the next 12 to 18 months , experts from the 72 WEF global agenda councils said.

One of the emerging markets' challenges is how to cope up, capacity-wise and responsibility-wise,  Zhan Yunling, director, international studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

"These economies have different problems from the developed markets and to face the paradigm shift, they need to create models of growth based on clean energy, and this is not easy," he said.

The world's fragile recovery has been driven by the growth of these developing economies, which are partly supported by subsidies on conventional fuels, which emit significant carbon and which drives higher energy demand and economic activities.

The emergence of new economies means the US is no longer the sole dominant power hence the political landscape is also set to change. The survey says inequality and growing income distribution disparity both in developed and developing countries is also a concern, and this could boil down to bigger conflicts.

"There is a big gap between developed and developing countries which in the future could lead to tensions," Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia's minister of trade, said.

"Asian and other emerging markets will outstrip the economic performance of Europe and North America where stubborn unemployment and political gridlock will make policy reforms harder," noted one council member.

"Given the shifts in economic power as the world seeks to rebalance itself in a highly volatile setting, what can be done to enhance the quality of global cooperation?" adds another member.

Other important trends over the next one year and a half are population growth and ageing, as well as shortage of resources, which include unstable depletion of natural resources from fossil fuels to drinking water.

According to Nejib Zaafrani, Secretary General and CEO of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, the world population is set to grow from six billion to nine billion over the next two decades and a big part of growth will happen in the Mena region. "About 20-25 per cent of global youth are from the Middle East. The challenge is to sustain the supply and demand balance," he said, adding that hydrocarbon
exploration always carries uncertainty risks.

The Summit on the Global Agenda, held in Dubai from November 29 - December 1, is meant to shape the intellectual debate on global issues to prepare the agendas for next  year's annual meeting in Davos-Klosters and the Summer Davos in Dalian.

The 72 councils, comprised of leaders from the business, academia, civil society and government, are the "intellectual backbone" of the forum, says Klaus Scwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of WEF.

"Since the problems of the world are inter-related, what is important is that you interact not in a silo," he said. "What we want here is to give you the opportunity to reach out to listen and get inputs from other domains...The purpose is to keep the international community focused not just on immediate priorities such as recovery from the global economic crisis but on vital long-term challenges such as water security and ageing demographics."

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