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"I thought it would be a good thing to shake up Europe and expose people to the most advanced management concepts". This quote came from Klaus Schwab, a name that many people probably aren’t familiar with. In 1971, however, Schwab founded a much better-known organisation: the World Economic Forum, which holds its annual meetings in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. In 2023, MHP participated for the first time. Our CEO, Dr. Ralf Hofmann, accepted the invitation of Futur/IO – The European Institute for Exponential Technologies & Desirable Futures – and gave a speech at the reception, which took place at the Hotel Steigenberger Belvédère. Among other things, he emphasized that: "We must use innovation and technology much more intensively if we want to achieve a better future. I am 100 percent convinced of that! Otherwise, we won't make it".

Dr. Ralf Hofmann’s statement sums up the key message conveyed by the World Economic Forum during our visit. Here are our five takeaways from Davos.

Takeaway 1: Sustainability rules

At every individual event, in every keynote speech, and in every conversation, the omnipresent topic discussed in Davos – along with the current global political situation and the terrible escalations – was sustainability. Representatives from the scientific community submitted their latest findings, including illustrating the status of planetary boundaries and spelling out just how relevant and urgent consistent action is. The results have been debated in detail from opposing viewpoints, but there is a clear consensus among all stakeholders: we need to act, and we need to act now! And this applies not only from a sustainability perspective but also – or, rather, above all – from a business perspective. Sustainability is already a critical success factor for businesses. Everyone agreed on that. But as is so often the case, the "why" is clear but the "how" remains unanswered. It is still not clear how we as a society can make substantial progress in terms of sustainability.

Takeaway 2: More than CO2

In the public debate, sustainability is almost always equated with the reduction of CO2. That is understandable – after all, climate change is probably the biggest challenge that we face. But sustainability extends far beyond this. Therefore, we were very pleased that the World Economic Forum dedicated a whole tent to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The many participants we met have all aspects of sustainability on their agenda, despite coming from very different countries and industries. This is the optimal prerequisite for a holistic transformation approach.

Takeaway 3: Many ideas, but still no big success story

The event was enriched by the many participants from such diverse backgrounds. They presented a variety of new approaches and ideas, which were then openly discussed. However, it also became clear that it will take a long time before all approaches are widely available. Some (technical) innovations are still needed to turn the creative and ambitious ideas into reality.

Takeaway 4: Digitalization is a game changer

It is therefore not surprising that digitalisation has, to some extent, taken on the role of a game changer in the transition to greater sustainability. There were numerous talks and discussions on GreenTech and CleanTech, and many different approaches from these areas were presented. The bottom line/conclusion is clear: Regardless of the products, services, and individual organizations involved, improving sustainability performance across all the 17 SDGs cannot succeed – or at least not fully – without digital components.

Takeaway 5: Net-Zero Industry Act of the European Commission

Since our visit to Davos, we are more convinced than ever that the issue of sustainability has indeed moved to the top of the agenda. And this applies to all actors/stakeholders. Many representatives from (the worlds of) politics and business have come forward with clear statements. For example, the European Commission has announced a Net-Zero Industry Act in response to the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States.

While it is good to see that sustainability is gaining in importance, we have yet to see any big solutions. Nevertheless, there are many small solutions. It is up to all of us to apply these solutions in a consistent manner and thus implement sustainability in a holistic manner - with clear goals, clear roadmaps and a clear will to implement the solutions. In his speech in Davos, Dr. Ralf Hofmann gave us some helpful advice: “Competence, speed, moderators, and enablers are the four success factors that will drive change.” At MHP, we take this seriously and affirm our purpose:

Enabling you to shape a better tomorrow.

About our author

A "Better Tomorrow" cannot be achieved without...:

  • The view of the big picture
  • The courage to make systematic changes
  • Sustainable bottom-up innovations

My heart beats faster for..:

  • Creating real impact

Simon-Alexander Appel

Manager, MHP