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WEF 2022: Recent geopolitical events have led to profound changes, says Deloitte boss Punit Renjen

Business Today

The past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine had profoundly changed the world, something that could be compared to what happened towards the end of World War II, fall of the Berlin Wall or the coming of the Internet, CEO of the global consulting firm Deloitte, Punit Renjen has said.

“What do I mean by that? The way that we work, the way we interact with each other – I am carrying a mask around – it has profoundly impacted the way business is conducted. For instance, there was more digitisation in the last two years than there was in the last ten years,” observed Renjen.

Renjen shared these insights during an exclusive interaction with Business Today’s managing editor Siddharth Zarabi on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

This turn of events had also changed the relationship between companies and their employees with hybrid work model here to stay, he added. He felt that the transformation had created opportunities particularly for India and that the country must leverage this inflection point.

Speaking on India Inc.’s efforts at acquiring manufacturing competitiveness, Renjen said that the realigning of global supply chains from a ‘just in time’ to ‘just in case’ scenario presented an opportunity that was up for grabs.

“It is important for India, both the central and state governments as well as businesses, to step up and seize the moment. By the way, China is going to be a potent competitor. I am not going to downplay that. But I think, India can compete,” the Deloitte chief said.

Renjen pointed out that Deloitte would be adding another 75,000 individuals to its existing pool of 90,000 professionals based in India as part of their global expansion plans. Although the new hires would be serving multinationals from India, the large Indian companies also presented a huge business opportunity for the consulting major.

Talking about the pressing issue of climate change, Renjen was of the view that India must take the lead on this by coming up with nature-based outcomes for the world.

Elaborating on Deloitte’s own engagement in this area, he informed, “We are working with the government of Haryana on stubble burning. What we are trying to do is come up with an ecosystem of players with an answer to incent the farmer to not take a one cent match and light the paddy stubble but to reuse that stubble.”
As part of another programme with the Haryana government — called ‘Climate Sakhi’ — Deloitte was incentivising rural women to help with increasing the state’s forest cover, he added.

Also read: Change in the air as the well-heeled WEF veterans make it to spring-time Davos

Also read: Net-zero emissions by 2050 not possible without industries’ contribution: WEF 2022 report   

Also read: India’s wheat export ban is to ensure food security for citizens, says Piyush Goyal

Also read: WEF summit: Pandemic creates new billionaire every 30 hours, says Oxfam

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World Economic Forum: A look at the milestone events in last five years

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an international organisation that mobilises public and private cooperation in driving positive change in the world. For over 50 years, the organisation has engaged governments, businesses and civil society leaders to drive a significant impact in improving the global situation through historic initiatives. The forum is best known for the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos where leaders brainstorm global issues and find solutions.

The Davos World Economic Forum has been part of key global events in the past 50 years, including economic globalisation and climate change.

Here’s a look at some of the milestone events in the last five years.

2017 –

 For the first time, a head of state from the People’s Republic of China attended the World Economic Forum. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his nation was a responsible global citizen and dedicated to furthering international integration. He was accompanied by a huge delegation of Chinese officials and business executives.

The global initiative to fight epidemics, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), was launched at the WEF in Davos the same year. Apart from ensuring supply of vaccines during emergencies, the initiative aims at researching new vaccines for tropical diseases. Prominent donors, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, raised almost $500 million for a new partnership along with nations like Germany, Japan and Norway.

2018 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian head of state to deliver the inaugural keynote speech at the annual meet at Davos. The Prime Minister highlighted the need to focus on climate change, terrorism and protectionism.

The same year, the WEF launched the Friends of Ocean Action (FOA) initiative to help deliver Sustainable Development Goal action on the world’s oceans. The initiative witnessed participation of 46 senior leaders and influencers engaged in the Ocean agenda. It was able to mobilise action on several ocean issues in the first six months itself, identifying seven key areas requiring public-private partnership in bringing a global impact.

2019 –Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who had once promised to open up the Amazon rainforest for farming, said in Davos that his country was making efforts to take care of the world’s largest rainforest.

“Brazil is a paradise. We are the one country that most preserves the environment,” he said. The next year, the Brazil President skipped the meeting in Switzerland.

Later that year, the forum and the United Nations signed a strategic Partnership Framework in New York outlining areas of cooperation to jointly accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

2020 – The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was a cause for concern for participants at the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. CEPI met leaders from Moderna at the Davos summit and announced a new partnership to develop vaccines for the virus as early as possible. They planned to come out with a vaccine before the outbreak turned into a global epidemic. Six days later the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global health emergency.

Later that year, Charles, Prince of Wales, said recovering from the COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to reset the global economy by prioritising sustainable development without damaging the planet further.

2021- The World Economic Forum initially planned to organise the summit in Singapore in August, but had to cancel in view of the COVID-19 situation.

(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)