The World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 took place in Durban, South Africa this past week. With a theme focussing on driving economic transformation in Africa through inclusive growth models, the WEF attracted delegates from more than 100 countries.
In the build up to the World Economic Forum, Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa hosted a group of 120 social entrepreneurs at a WEF Learning Journey on Sunday, 30 April. Delegates enjoyed a trail facilitated by the Wilderness Leadership School at the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve and learnt about the work being done by Wilderness Foundation Africa in the areas of Species, Spaces and People.
The World Economic Forum was preceded by a "solutions summit", the last of which was held 10 years ago. This event, which was the largest gathering of social entrepreneurs in the world, brings together social entrepreneurs and civil society organisations, as well as government and business people, with the aim of finding ways to scale up innovative solutions so that a critical mass of people can benefit from them. One of the highlights of the WEF was the announcement of The Schwab Foundation’s 2017 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awardees. The winners of this award join the world’s largest network of mature social enterprises affiliated with The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the sister organization of the World Economic Forum. Dr Andrew Muir of WFA won this award in 2012 for the Umzi Wethu Academy, a social intervention and experiential environmental education programme which forms part of the Youth Development Programme of WFA.
After attending various of the workshops at the WEF on issues such as education, skills and employment; entrepreneurship; energy; infrastructure and development finance; combating, adapting to and building resilience against climate change; and science, technology and innovation, Dr Andrew Muir gave the following feedback.
"With the wave of populism and nationalism, as well as the economic pressures in the world, it is clear that we are moving into a new paradigm. We are moving into an area of social change where we will no longer be judged purely on creating jobs, but also on how we impact others. It is clear that there is a circle economy culture beginning to emerge, which means living in a more sustainable way and looking at principals of reusing, recycling and reducing our impact. This is all within the context of the 4th industrial revolution, where a combination of rapid automation and artificial intelligence is putting more pressure on job creation, requiring this new paradigm.
I was encouraged by the discussions at the World Economic Forum and largely agreed with most of the global leaders on the stage, who were thinking expressly around the need of us as a global society to create new values. These values should be around respect for human dignity, serving communities more than self interest and being a steward for future generations."