Systemic opportunity and youth engagement at the WEF

21 January 2013

The Oxford Martin School played a significant role in the 2013 annual World Economic Forum conference in Davos. While academics presented their insights at an IdeasLab, members of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations gathered for a workshop with WEF Young Global Leaders and Shapers.


‘From systemic risks to systemic opportunities’ was the focus of the University of Oxford IdeasLab on Thursday January 24. Academics from the Oxford Martin School discussed studies showing that new research, technologies and innovations are on the verge of solving some of the world’s major global issues.

At the IdeasLab, five key ideas were debated:

  • Connectivity, creativity, complexity and chaos. Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School asks: How do we manage globalisation without succumbing to systemic risk?
  • The challenge of sustainably feeding 9- 10 billion people. Professor Charles Godfray, Director, Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food asks: How can 9-10 billion people be sustainably fed?
  • A CERN for climate change. Professor Tim Palmer, Co-Director, Programme on Modelling and Predicting Climate asks: How do we develop an adequate understanding of climate change?Curing the incurable: managing a future with HIV. Dr John Frater, Principal Investigator, Institute for Emerging Infections asks: How do we tackle new medical threats?
  • Cybersecurity and the promise of hyperconnectivity. Professor Sadie Creese, Director, Institute for the Future of Computing asks: How do we deliver a new form of governance for 21st century cyberspace?

Capitalising on the interdisciplinary expertise of the members of Oxford Martin School, the IdeasLab provides an interactive environment to support brainstorming of collaborative ideas on new trends, technologies and discoveries. This IdeasLab is the ninth such event for Oxford Martin School academics.

Commission Workshop

Chairman of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, Pascal Lamy and Professor Ian Goldin led a workshop with Commission members and WEF Young Global Leaders and representatives of the Global Shapers programmes. This opportunity to collaborate with some 40 young leaders is an important step in the Commission's intergenerational dialogue, the results of which will feed into the Commission report to be published later this year.

The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations workshop is a vital element of the Commission’s efforts to engage with key policy, academic and business leaders in the lead-up to the report.

During the workshop, breakout groups discussed views on impediments to action on major global challenges, including examples of where such impediments have been overcome, and where action has fallen short; ideas to advance action on major global challenges and overcome today’s impasse in key economic, trade, climate, security and other negotiations; and principles that might inform long-term planning and governance in a highly integrated global environment.

Partnership with the WEF

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The Oxford Martin School has developed an active partnership with the WEF to provide insights for their global reports and speakers for their international events. While in Davos this year, Oxford Martin School academics joined the University of Oxford Nightcap Reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and the Acting Warden of Rhodes House.