By M. Saraswathi
DUBAI, Feb 12 (Bernama) -- The World Government Summit 2019 (WGS) which had just concluded was nothing short of a comprehensive discussion of issues that governments need to be prepared for and address in a rapidly changing world.
While it was common to see data analysis, economic outlooks and challenges, environmental issues and potential areas of growth on the table of any conference and summit, this time, it also included the fourth industrial revolution.
Themed "Shaping the Future of Governments", the three-day summit also discussed stress and mental health issues.
Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and Thrive Global, said stress and lack of sleep has resulted in a worldwide burnout.
"There is a delusion that we always need to ‘be on’ to succeed and that sleep is optional," she said, encouraging people to fix a time and call it a day.
According to reports, mental health could cost the world US$16 trillion by 2030.
Joulan Abdul Khalek, founder of Happy Space (happyspace.io), said it was encouraging to see the topic of mental health, well-being and happiness discussed during the WGS.
"These are the emerging trends, it is only going to snowball. So whether you're in private or public sector, these are issues that cannot be ignored," he told Bernama.
He said Happyspace.io, the world's first secure distributed platform for the measurement of public happiness, uses artificial intelligence to measure people's happiness and the data would be available for the public.
The WGS also covered issues such as cyber warfare, a growing threat to the safety and integrity of nations.
Cybersecurity expert, Rodringo Bijou said cyber warfare posed substantial economic impact, for which private and public sector must be prepared.
"Countries need to secure and form strategy around their vulnerabilities and companies needs to understand their true digital risk," he said.
The seventh WGS, which ended today, saw more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries.
Among the key-figures that took the stage were former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, Estonia Prime Minister, Juri Ratas, Costa Rica Vice-President, Epsy Campbell Barr and International Monetary Fund chief, Christine Lagarde.
In her address, Lagarde touched on financial inclusion for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as they helped to create jobs, diversify economies and support growth.
She said in the Arab region, SMEs represented 96 per cent of registered companies and employed half of the labour force, yet their access to financial support was the lowest in the world.
Loans to SMEs in the region only accounted for seven per cent of total bank loans, she said.
"We found that closing this financial inclusion gap - with respect to the average of emerging and developing countries - would yield multiple economic benefits. It could boost annual economic growth by up to one per cent, potentially leading to about 15 million new jobs by 2025 in the Arab region," she added.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis, who spoke at the conference via a video link, said policymakers and government leaders should not only put economic interests first but also social and moral interests in tackling global challenges.
"It is my sincere hope that the questions underlying your reflections will not only be ‘what are the best opportunities to take advantage of’ but also ‘what kind of world do we want to build together’ he added.