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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 February 2019

World Government Summit is more than a meeting of minds

The forum's focus on concrete solutions to global challenges is as rare as it is valuable

Ban Ki-moon will sit on a climate change panel on the opening day at the 2019 World Government Summit in Dubai. Victor Besa / The National
Ban Ki-moon will sit on a climate change panel on the opening day at the 2019 World Government Summit in Dubai. Victor Besa / The National

For the seventh consecutive year, some of the greatest minds in politics, business and science will arrive in Dubai for the World Government Summit. Among the thousands of attendees will be former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, the Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, Nobel Peace prize laureate Leymah Gbowee and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. Hearing them, addressing their peers on a truly global stage, shows that the UAE is a place where serious debate and innovative thinking are completely at home. And this three-day forum is more than just a meeting of minds. It provides a space to lay out a new vision of governance for a rapidly changing world, where delegates will examine the most pressing challenges of our time – from sustainability to gender equality, philanthropy, fighting radicalism and the future of global trade. The World Government Summit’s focus on finding concrete solutions to big problems is both rare and valuable.

This year, following a bruising few months for environmental activists, the summit will focus on climate change. Last October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire warning: we have just 12 years to keep global warming under 1.5C, beyond which the risk of floods, extreme heat, drought and mass displacement will multiply. Meanwhile, as The National reported last month, rising water temperatures could eliminate a third of the Arabian Gulf’s marine species by 2090. Failure to comprehend and address this threat could prove catastrophic. Fortunately, the World Government Summit is reinforcing the issue’s place at the top of the global agenda, with an impressive roster of speakers, including the actor Harrison Ford. The UAE realised long ago that climate change poses both an immense challenge – and a huge opportunity. The country does not fear environmental action, but is determined to ensure that from it emerge jobs and prosperity, in accordance with the Vision 2021 plan, which puts sustainability at the heart of the national agenda.

Since 2013, when the inaugural World Government Summit was held, the UAE has not taken its foot off the pedal in the race to innovate. The government is open to pioneering, radical thinking, while a young and rapidly developing nation provides ample opportunities to formulate and implement the solutions of the future. When it comes to responding to the needs of a changing society, the UAE practices what it preaches, as its portfolio of forward-looking ministries – including departments for artificial intelligence, tolerance and happiness – attest. It is also dedicated to international co-operation and the sharing of knowledge and expertise. In this spirit, the summit brings together influential figures from across the globe to make connections and trade ideas that have the potential to make our world a better place.

Updated: February 10, 2019 09:45 AM

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