10/10/2011 07:27 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2011

World Economic Forum Meeting in Abu Dhabi Developing New Models for Understanding Complexity

I'm enjoying participating in this week's meeting of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Councils.

The Network of Global Agenda Councils constitutes the intellectual brains trust of the World Economic Forum. This year more than 750 Global Agenda Council Members from all walks of life and from more than 80 countries have gathered in Abu Dhabi for a global brainstorming to develop the new models for global decision-making.

Obviously the world is a very volatile place and this is a great time of change. There are countless new risks coming from unpredictable places and the old rules and mechanisms for global cooperation and problem solving are not up to the challenge.

In his opening address, Klaus Schwab, the Forum's founder and executive chairman, noted that these are times of unprecedented transformational changes in social values, resource needs and technology. The speed of change continues to accelerate, fuelled not only by globalization but also by the increasing sophistication of technological progress. Across the world, decision-makers are struggling to take action on critical economic, political and societal issues, because the appropriate conceptual models are lacking from which to develop a systemic understanding of the great transformation.

This conference is exploring four sub-themes.

Growth and Employment Models

The policy prescriptions, industry models and performance incentives that emerged from an era of consumption and debt-driven growth must be transformed to deliver quality growth. Growth that is sustainable, entrepreneur-driven and employment-creating should be the outcome of the rebalancing and deleveraging of the global economy.

Leadership and Innovation Models

The leading countries and global governance institutions of the Cold War era must create space for major emerging economies, private sector institutions and multi-stakeholder partnerships. These new actors should have the responsibility not only to address important global and regional challenges but also to introduce innovative solutions.

Sustainability and Resource Models

The realization that human activities have a major impact on Earth's ecosystem must drive future changes in behaviour and policies. Our ecological footprint will have to be fully internalized in business models.

Social and Technological Models

The next wave of technological innovation, particularly in life sciences, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, will not just deliver productivity gains but will also transform us by adding new dimensions to our lives. As the "Internet of things" that connects billions of sensors and devices becomes a reality, stakeholders should work together to safeguard the knowledge, data and networks that are critical resources for our future development.

There are a number of working groups at this meeting. I'm on the group entitled Informed Society. The fast-moving complexity of contemporary global issues means that individuals and societies need to be much better informed. But the idea and reality of an informed society is changing radically as new technologies and social trends bring threats as well as new opportunities for mediation. We are exploring the idea of global 'media citizenship.'

I'm personally convinced that we need to rethink and rebuild many of the organizations and institutions that have served us well for decades, but now have come to the end of their life cycle. The Internet is the most powerful platform ever for bringing together the people, skills and knowledge we need to ensure growth, social development and a just and sustainable world.