latin america

Bringing Back Latin America to Davos Conversations

March 1, 2024

The 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, spanning from January 15 to 19, embraced the theme “Rebuilding Trust,” spotlighting the critical convergence of global challenges and the imperative for joint, forward-thinking solutions. This year’s theme echoes deeply within the current global context, characterized by geopolitical frictions, economic flux and a pressing need for sustainable progress. The focus on restoring trust across various dimensions—futures, societies and nations—is not only apt but vital, especially for regions like Latin America, where the intricate weave of economic, political and societal factors highlights the urgency of this mission.

Gathering around 2,500 leaders from diverse sectors, Davos 2024 saw participation from Latin America, including two standout presidents: Gustavo Petro of Colombia and Javier Milei of Argentina, underscoring the region’s commitment to the global dialogue on trust and cooperation. Ecuador was ably represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility Minister, Gabriela Sommerfeld, who drew attention to the importance of increasing trust between private actors and governmental ones to drive economic prosperity.

Yet, the limited presence of Latin American leaders, particularly the conspicuous absence of Mexico—a nation whose engagement has been sporadic since 2016, with President López Obrador only participating virtually in 2021 due to COVID-19—and President Lula from Brazil, despite being the current President of the G20, speaks volumes about the challenges and opportunities in international representation and diplomacy, thus missing crucial chances for negotiation and progress on key issues. However, some sub-national governments in Mexico such as Northern State of Sonora were able to actively meet with more than 15 companies interested on the nearshoring opportunities to enter the U.S, Market via this border State.

The Forum’s agenda was built around four interconnected pillars: security and cooperation in a fragmented world, fostering job creation and growth in a new epoch, the role of artificial intelligence in economy and society, and crafting strategies for climate, nature and energy management. These themes hold significant relevance for Latin America, a region at the cusp of many of these challenges, from pioneering biodiversity conservation and climate initiatives to integrating AI into socio-economic development. For example, in Colombia, Microsoft has partnered with various regional academic and public institutions to deploy a series of AI models to monitor deforestation and protect the biodiversity of the ecosystem. The algorithms developed allow information to be developed in a tenth of the time compared to manual analysis. The emphasis on security and cooperation mirrors the region’s own journey toward stability and unity amidst diverse hurdles.

Economic discussions in Davos, focusing on nurturing job creation and sustainable growth, resonate with Latin America’s continuous efforts to build economic resilience and inclusivity. The region’s capacity to leverage AI for social advancement also aligns with the global conversation on utilizing technology for societal benefit, emphasizing the need for ethical guidelines and equitable technology access. Furthermore, the critical climate agenda, with aims for carbon neutrality by 2050, reflects Latin America’s pivotal role in global environmental stewardship, given its abundant natural resources and biodiversity.

The concept of rebuilding trust, as highlighted at Davos, is crucial for Latin America. Trust forms the foundation for cooperative, transparent and accountable governance, enabling the region to tackle its complex challenges and unlock its immense potential. The participation of Latin American leaders, albeit limited, signals an acknowledgment of the significance of global platforms like Davos in influencing policy, forging partnerships and disseminating knowledge that can benefit both the region and the world.

The discussions and outcomes of Davos 2024 underline the significance of global cooperation and the collective duty of all stakeholders—governments, businesses, civil society and individuals—to strive for a more just, sustainable, and thriving future. For Latin America, the Forum underscores the dual aspects of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, highlighting the necessity for engagement, dialogue and action at both the regional and international levels.

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