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Reflections from the 2022 World Economic Forum annual meeting

Julie Gerdeman I June 3, 2022

Everstream Analytics is a 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) Technology Pioneer, and as part of this great honor, I was invited to join the conversation at this year’s annual meeting in Davos. To be in this space, surrounded by some of the world’s most enthusiastic and brilliant minds, was exhilarating, but none of us could deny the uneasy undercurrent in the room. This year’s conference took place against a backdrop of conflict, scarcity, and a growing divide. We all felt the gravity of the situation, the responsibility to contribute, and the urgency to act quickly.

Problem solving is a team effort

Big problems are rarely solved alone, and this message rang clear throughout the conference. We were reminded that the only way we will overcome crises and regain stability is through a collective and collaborative effort. WEF brought this diverse group of thinkers together to solve the most significant threats to humanity, such as climate change and food scarcity.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that our world is an interdependent and highly fragile ecosystem. In our sector, commercial and humanitarian supply chains are inextricably linked. When disruption occurs, the impact reverberates well beyond the point of origin. The challenges are connected, complex, and impossible to solve alone. The same is true for solving global issues like climate change and the food crisis. It will take ingenuity, innovation, collaborative action from the public and private sectors, and the commitment to move swiftly.

Climate change and food scarcity

I felt that sense of urgency and the power of collaboration when the First Movers Coalition (FMC) announced its plans to fight climate change with accelerated efforts to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors by investing in climate technology. It was inspiring to see big players like Apple, Boeing, Johnson Controls, DHL, Maersk, SAP, Schneider Electric and many others come together and use their purchasing power to scale up zero-carbon technologies.

Another key topic was the global food crisis, how the war is affecting global food supplies, and how the severity of impact between the wealthy western countries and underserved populations will continue to widen. We explored how businesses can mitigate these shocks by using data that predicts spikes in commodity availability to change purchasing habits and reformulate products in advance of outages. Manufacturers and shippers can use the same technology and data for transit planning to spot the unusual weather and other stoppages that cause food spoilage or waste during transit. Additionally, the World Economic Forum’s Industry Action group is facilitating collective action by developing a supply chain visibility dashboard to aid humanitarian response. Everstream is proud to support initiatives like these at a time of great need.

Diversity of thought

A fellow panelist, Donnel Baird, talked about how genius is equally distributed in the world, something I also believe strongly, and this was evident in the community at Davos. WEF fostered this diversity of thought by assembling a group of founders, innovators, activists, educators, business leaders, and thinkers, which produced engaging and important conversations. I spoke with innovators designing technology to decrease pollution by scrubbing CO2 from the air, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by building fleets of electric trucks, and humanely bolstering the global food supply with alternative proteins. It was an honor to be part of this group, sharing essential, world-changing ideas and forging lasting connections and a community that will live long beyond Davos 2022.

How technology can save the world

I participated in several sessions with the Technology Pioneers, where we discussed the intersection of large tech and startups to solve big problems and challenged each other to think bigger. I was blown away by these conversations with entrepreneurs and innovators like Zipline, which uses drones to deliver humanitarian essentials (such as PPE and blood) to remote locations in Africa within hours instead of days.

I was also fascinated by the discussions on the Metaverse, how augmented reality will reshape the way people work and communicate, and its potential to foster public and private sector collaboration. There is no doubt that the Metaverse is here to stay, and it’s already changing the way we innovate at Everstream. Our platform creates a digital twin of a supply chain which allows us to analyze supply chain interactions, model scenarios, and produce accurate insights and we are incubating additional solutions that leverage augmented reality.

Hope and commitment to action

As the conference came to a close, the uneasy undercurrent had shifted to one of optimism and hope. This opportunity to come together, share ideas, challenge each other, and spark innovation inspired a renewed commitment to urgent and cooperative action, as intended. Through innovation, insights, and deep collaboration with clients, partners, and organizations like WEF, I’m confident we will continue to address the issues threatening our world. And finally, there is no replacement for an in-person WEF annual meeting.

Hear Julie share her thoughts at the 2022 WEF annual meeting: Crisis, Experimentation and Innovation Panel

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