Each year during the week of the Annual Meeting in Davos, the city hosts a number of protestors who come to express their thoughts about the Forum and its mission.
Eben Bayer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ecovative Design, decided to highlight two different approaches striving for a better future.
Another Davos Experience: Occupy Davos
By Eben Bayer
So far, 2012 is being marked by the World Economic Forum’s focus of shaping new models, a record breaking snow fall in Davos, and my second chance to experience the ideas, networking, insanity, exhaustion, jockeying and general magic which makes this event one of the best on the planet.
What I’m taking away with conviction this year is what began to impinge on my consciousness last year. While the Forum is brimming, indeed overflowing with ideas, there doesn’t appear to be a conduit to transform these idea’s into concrete actions. Or, as Toby Keith would say, we need “a little less talk and a lot more action”.
But to be perfectly frank, I’m not sure I can stomach another session where the end result is “a report detailing the ideas and concepts” we produced during a session. Invariably, we (the participants) leave the room feeling energized for action, but when we return to our respective regions, as the chief executive of a major strategic partner here told me, we “get caught back up in the day-to-day of running our business’s” (or NGOs or social enterprises).
Thankfully, this year has seen an exciting development in Davos: Occupy movement protestors. Now whatever you may have to say about the movement, good or bad, they have demonstrated one particular core competency, and that is to take concrete action. The individuals in this movement are passionate, motivated, and willing to risk their livelihoods and, in some cases, their personal freedoms.
Protestors are not a new phenomenon at the World Economic Forum, and I would argue that they actually represent a missing ingredient that could take this global gathering to the next level – a commitment to taking action.
By this same token, I have a firm belief that the Occupy movement is missing some of the key ingredients seen in the Forum. Namely a vision for what is possible and strong charismatic leaders that can focus the energy of this movement into positive change. While the actions of the Occupy movement have been admirable in catalysing public engagement, they are primarly a message of “No!” They have an appropriate response to the inequities they are addressing, but unfortunately not a vision that a larger portion of our world can get beyond.
The Occupy movement is also missing a key portion of transformative change. Yes, of course, we need to reject our standard models – they have failed and are failing us (in categories like economy, ecology, education and health). But rejection is not sufficient. The elements of transformative change are a call to action, and a clear vision of what must be achieved. This is how you go the moon, defend your country, have a successful revolution.
Fortunately, less than 1 km from the Occupy Igloo exists the Forum, overflowing with vision and strategies for tackling the pressing problems facing our planet. And fortunately for the Forum, groups representing the tens of thousands of passionate, dedicated and action-taking occupiers, is waiting for inspiration.
So what I found so exciting in Davos this year is that we had all the components for generating transformative change in one place. I’m hoping with fingers crossed that we may see a fusion between these movements creating a powerful equation for success: Vision + Leadership + Concrete Action = Measurable Transformative Change.