Global Insight: a world of hope in 2013

Various World Leaders

As the New Year begins and Davos looms, Global asked some of the world’s most influential leaders to share their thoughts on the pressing issues of 2013.

Question: ‘Resilient Dynamism’ is the focus of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January. As we face unprecedented adaptive challenges and systemic risks, what are your hopes and fears for 2013?

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

We stand at a critical crossroads in history when our actions – or inaction – can shape the future of life on Earth as we know it. Our climate and ecosystems are under growing strain. Meanwhile, the human population, along with its appetites, continues to swell. As we look to 2013 and beyond, we must find ways to provide adequate energy, food, and water to all the world’s citizens while preserving the planet that sustains us. Simultaneously, it is imperative to enhance economic dynamism, and pave a way for job creation and growth, especially in areas of the world where conflicts are currently raging.

This is a global challenge, one requiring global cooperation among all sectors of society. In the coming year, my hope is that governments, working with the business community, civic organizations, foundations, academic and faith based groups, will continue to work with the United Nations to help forge a more sustainable path to the future. Working together, we can bring hope and opportunity to all. The future is truly in our hands.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

My greatest fear is that we do not do enough to act on what we have learned from these five very difficult-and painful-years of crisis.

2013 is a year that offers us an opportunity to put the crisis behind us. We know how to do that: supportive monetary policy; fiscal adjustment in advanced economies that includes concrete and realistic plans to reduce debt over the medium term, but does not undercut growth; completing financial sector repair; and structural reforms to boost growth.

Fortunately, I see a lot of common ground among policymakers and, importantly, a desire to come together and move forward together. This brings me hope.

I believe that the lessons of this crisis can help us shape the future global economy in a positive way. Our goal should be a different type of growth: growth that is more respectful of the environment; growth that can narrow the gap between rich and poor; and growth that generates the jobs that people so badly need. Policy actions can and must have these goals in mind.

As we look toward 2013, I refuse to be fearful, and I am realistically hopeful.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group

The hopes and fears that matter most to us are those of the world’s poor.

Poor people want good jobs. They want to live in dignity, in peaceful, prosperous communities. For their children, they want health, education, opportunity, and that climate change will not dramatically alter the natural environment.

This morning, too many people woke up gripped by the fear that they won’t be able to provide their families with a decent meal in the course of the day.

Poor people have suffered the harshest impacts of the crises of recent years: the economic shocks, food price spikes and climatic assaults. And the poor have the most to lose, if we fail to build resilience to confront future crises more effectively.

My belief is that with comparatively modest investments and a laser focus on delivery, we can accelerate the end of absolute poverty. In less than a generation, we can free humanity from this scourge forever. At the World Bank Group, this is our passion and our duty, for which the world’s peoples will hold us accountable.

Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme

The new normal in our world is shock and volatility, and we must learn to expect the unexpected.

As we look to 2013 and beyond, development challenges will be different in nature, scale, and scope from those of the past.

If our world is to be one in which poverty is eradicated, inequality is reduced, growth is inclusive, and production and consumption do not break planetary boundaries, and if we are to be effective in combating the effects of climate change, much needs to change. At UNDP we believe that empowered people can and do build resilient nations. Through our commitment to building resilience, we hope to help secure development progress made to date, and advance equitable and sustainable human development.

Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace

In 2013 we can expect to witness more devastating extreme weather events fuelled and supercharged by the destructive power of a warming planet brought about by climate change. However, I hope to witness and be part of exponential growth in the popular pressure forcing governments and business to take steps to avert catastrophic climate change. I hope to see even more ‘unusual allies’ joining the global movement demanding climate action. In particular, we can expect to see the women’s movement, trade unions and religious organisations continuing to get more actively involved in the struggle to avert catastrophic climate change.

The main question is whether these extreme weather events, the science, public opinion and increasingly economic interests, will change the political and business world and rouse our governments and business leaders from their slumber.

We can no longer talk about climate change as an ominous threat on the horizon, the climate has changed and what we have seen last year is only a small bitter taste of our common future if action is not taken immediately to alter course.

I hope that 2013 will see a decisive embracing of a need for an energy revolution and the realisation of an inclusive, equitable, green global economy. What we need in 2013 is a movement away from system maintenance and system recovery at all cost to an approach that recognizes the fundamental need for a system re-design.

Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women

I think that resilient dynamism depends on ethical leadership grounded in democratic and inclusive institutions, laws and policies that promote human rights, justice, equality and protection of the environment.

My hopes for the world in 2013 are twofold. One, I hope that more women will become leaders to bring about positive and systemic change. Two, I hope more funding comes to UN Women. Today there is so much distrust in politics and institutions and there is a need for ethical leadership that focuses on protecting the well-being of current and future generations. I think women leaders will do the right thing and restore trust and credibility, reduce risk and address urgent challenges such as climate change in a comprehensive and practical way. If UN Women had more money, we could provide greater support to countries to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and to support women’s organisations around the world.

My fears are that regressive forces will gain ground and erode hard won gains for women. That is why I am constantly reaching out to build new alliances.

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

If there’s one word that describes tourism it’s ‘resilient’.

Over recent years tourism has faced multiple crises – natural disasters, acts of terror and one of the biggest global economic crises in history – yet it continues to grow and is today one of the world’s largest economic sectors, accounting for one billion tourists travelling internationally and over $ 1 trillion in exports. Despite persistent economic uncertainty, international tourism is expected to grow by 2-3 percent in 2013, creating much needed jobs.

My hope for the world in 2013 is that those working to set the global economy on the path of stable growth look past the traditional solutions and towards new growth engines such as tourism. Ours is a sector that accounts directly and indirectly for 9 percent of global GDP and one in every 12 jobs worldwide and can play a central role in global recovery if awarded the right support from governments.

HE Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General

Resilience is a watchword for the Commonwealth. In all that we do we seek to help our member states, particularly the smallest and most vulnerable of them, to equip themselves so that they are better able to withstand economic setbacks and to build robust societies in which there can be progress towards equitable and inclusive development.

Respect for diversity calls for all our citizens to be given the opportunity to take part in the planning and decision-making processes that shape the communities in which they live, learn and work.

Our Commonwealth understanding is that democracy and socioeconomic development are mutually sustaining and bring reciprocal benefits. This means that we see the need for special emphasis in the global political discourse to be placed on advancing democratic political leadership that is responsive to the needs of all people.

Through the networks of the Commonwealth, and other regional and international networks, and using the opportunities opened up by technological progress and human enterprise, let us work together to see the ambition and potential of our youth set free for the greater global good.

Abdulbaset Sieda, Syrian National Council


■■ Transition to a pluralist, democratic, secular society which guarantees the rights of individuals and institutions regardless of belief or ethnic origin, freedom of expression, or equality between men and women.

■■ Rebuilding that which the Syrian regime has destroyed, materially, psychologically and emotionally.

■■ Laying foundations for a balanced, holistic reconstruction allowing the Syrian economy to overcome the current state of stagnation with the aim of providing job opportunities for Syrian youth.

■■ Building stronger relationships with neighbouring countries and globally based on mutual interest and the preservation of peace and security.


■■ An increase in religious and ethnic extremism which would lead to widespread repercussions and consequences threatening the unity of Syrian society which had hitherto been unique in its rich diversity of religions, traditions and ethnicities.

■■ Fear of instability after the fall of the current regime as a side effect of the possibility of collaboration between its supporters and regional allies. This could translate on the ground into a series of attacks, assassinations and murder.

■■ Financial corruption which would have a negative impact on development and reconstruction projects.

These are the hopes and fears I have for Syria during 2013. The hopes will never be realised and the fears never banished if we do not eliminate all forms of extremism, be they religious, ethnic or ideological, and if we do not engage in a serious national dialogue with open hearts and minds based on mutual respect.

Abdalla Salem El-Badri, Secretary General of OPEC

As the year 2012 continued to witness a recovery in the global economy, albeit on a slow scale, it was evident that the ample supply of crude oil from all concerned, including OPEC member countries, played some role in this process. In 2013 this trend is expected to continue and, as a major actor in the global energy scene, OPEC will continue to ensure that the market is well supplied with oil.

Our latest studies for 2013 show that the global oil demand will grow by 800,000 barrels/day. With oil supplies from non-OPEC sources alone expected to grow by 900,000 b/d during the year, it means that inventories in the main consuming regions are also seen remaining at comfortable levels.

Of course, challenges remain and OPEC needs to be vigilant. There is still no clear vision on the recovery of the global economy, which has led to world oil demand growth forecasts being consistently revised down.

However, with its growing production capacity cushion, OPEC stands ready to provide the world with the oil it needs. And it will continue to do all in its power to maintain a stable and sustainable oil market, with fair and reasonable prices for all parties – producers and consumers alike.

It will also continue to pursue cooperation and dialogue among the industry’s main stakeholders, which it sees as key to achieving the Organization’s desired goals.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General of Confederation of Indian Industry

We step into the New Year amidst indications that global headwinds led by a weak US economy and the sovereign debt crisis of Europe would continue to pose major challenges for an early turnaround of the world economy in 2013. The Indian economy would not be impervious to the effects of the slow-down of global growth.

Despite this, Indian industry is positive about the outlook for 2013. For one, the US Congress’ efforts to stave off the fiscal cliff have lifted investor sentiment across the world including India. The host of important reforms announced by the government of India has done a lot of good to investor sentiments and should help the economy regain some of the lost momentum. Other positive factors which hold out hope in the New Year are the rebound in industrial production in October, a secular decline in inflation and record inflows of foreign capital. A much anticipated interest rate reduction by the end of the month, as signalled by the RBI, and a pro-growth budget would further boost sentiments.

However, challenges remain. The precarious economic conditions in US and Europe would continue to have a bearing on the Indian economy. Besides, the political compulsions at home may slow down the reform process. But for now, the worst seems to be over.

Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia

My government is committed to transparency, good governance and the fight against corruption in order to achieve a steady and reliable high rate of economic growth thereby creating a better Zambia for all.

Zambia has strong growth prospects but remains poorly integrated into the global economy. Ensuring that Zambia is fully integrated into the global economy is central to my government’s policy of driving growth and poverty reduction as well as diversifying the economy away from supplying unprocessed natural resources.

The government’s efforts to promote economic growth and development has in the past been hampered by the absence, and in some cases inadequate and poor, economic infrastructure particularly roads, rail and power generation capacity.

To address these concerns and to reduce costs incurred by the productive sectors of the economy, my government has prioritised the improvement and development of economic infrastructure.

It is the intention of my government, to significantly transform Zambia’s economy, by focusing on industrialisation and job creation through foreign and local investment which prioritises the agriculture, construction, manufacturing and tourism sectors as the four growth sectors having the greatest potential to achieve the objectives of promoting growth, employment, value addition and expanding Zambia’s economic base.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

2013 will certainly be another challenging year for world leaders. The devastating effects of the financial crisis are still being experienced by many countries and the reality of today’s complex, hyperconnected world means that few, if any countries, can remain isolated from the trickle-down effect of economic fractures in previously stable super-economies. The ensuing violence from the “Arab Spring” movement has now resulted in widespread displacement. It is my hope that in 2013 we see an end to civil wars and the suppression of human rights, and a greater thrust towards democratic processes and institutions.

In particular, more people-centred development, which my government is actively promoting, must be encouraged. From the community level the people must be allowed to participate in the political process, with a larger role being played by women, as it is often women and children who are most impacted by social upheavals.

The interconnectedness of today’s world must be evidenced by a greater transfer of technology to poorer nations. A key area of government focus should also be increased attention to corporate social responsibility initiatives by large multinational corporations in the countries in which they operate.

Climate change must be regarded as an inescapable reality, the deleterious effects of which are being and will continue to be felt by Small Island Developing Nations unless there is global consensus on a way forward. Environmental responsibility must be accepted by all world leaders.

Yet strong leadership with the will to make tough decisions and the ability to pursue an ‘adaptive’ agenda may yet right the course and bring about the stability and prosperity which all of us as world leaders envision for our respective countries.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of Nigeria

The greatest challenges for the global community in 2013 will undoubtedly be finding workable solutions to world economic recession and dealing effectively with continuing threats to global peace and security.

As we continue to focus on the urgent tasks of nation building and socio-economic development in Nigeria, we will have to keep an eye during the year on global economic developments which may impact on our efforts to rapidly transform our nation and achieve better living conditions for our people.

While we keep doing our best to diversify our economy, our country still remains dependent to a very large extent on income from exports of hydrocarbons. We will, therefore, continue to be concerned in 2013 with any developments which might threaten income from this vital national resource or the stability of the global energy market.

Also, the effects of the rise in global terrorism have reached our shores in recent years and confronting related security challenges will remain on our front burner in 2013.

We hope that in partnership with our friends in the global community, we will effectively stem the scourge of terrorism in our country, neighbouring countries and the entire West African sub-region to reassure our people and friends of the safety of their lives, properties and investments.

We also expect that in 2013 more of our efforts in the areas of public infrastructure development, improved social services, job creation, privatisation, industrialisation and economic diversification will come to fruition for the benefit of all Nigerians.

Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana

I hope that as a global community, we will become much better at recognising that international collective action is the only way we will meet today’s most pressing challenges. In a world heading for 9 billion people, and a doubling of what is termed the middle class, we urgently need fairer trade, climate justice and international governance to solve problems rather than just talk about them. Without these things, we will never meet challenges such as food security, energy security, climate security and poverty alleviation.

Towards this end, in Guyana, we are creating a 21st century economy built on equitable development alongside efficient use of natural resources. In doing so we are maintaining the bulk of our rainforest while cutting energy related greenhouse gas emissions by more than any country in the developed world. We are also forging ahead with new forms of international collective action – working with Norway on the world’s second largest scheme to avoid deforestation, working with Germany to maintain our world-class bio-diversity, and working with the European Union to help validate that our forestry exports meet EU Forest Law and Governance standards. So I hope that we will see more of that in the world in 2013, where developed and developing countries come together to create new models of development that can enable mutual growth and development without causing damage to the world’s climate and natural resources.

Freundel J. Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados

The Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, Olivier Blanchard, recently delivered himself of the dismal forecast that the world economy will take at least ten years to emerge from the crisis that began in 2008. We have paid careful attention to that forecast. Within that context, we note that the recovery in the USA and the UK will continue to be slow, although it appears that the Canadian economy, which is important to Barbados, will do somewhat better.

Tourism is vitally important to Barbados, which has the advantage of attracting tourists from several markets, including the US, UK, Canada and the Caribbean. We are actively pursuing new market development in Latin America and Europe, and enhancing our tourism product. Currently ranked 44th in the world in the Global Competitiveness Index, administrative and structural reforms, including in tax administration, are underway to improve Barbados’ external competitiveness.

My government is supporting private sector investment and marketing of international business and financial services, beverage production, and alternative sources of energy, to further diversify the foreign exchange earnings base of the economy, thereby enhancing growth prospects. We foresee a measured resumption of growth in the Barbadian economy, in spite of the sluggishness of several of our commercial partners. We forecast a return to steady growth of about 3 percent per year in two to three years’ time. We thus look towards the coming year with cautious optimism and hope.


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