THE BLOG
01/27/2016 11:35 am ET Updated Jan 27, 2017

Charting a Course for Equality in 2016

The 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos wound up amidst a global economy in stasis, stock markets on a roller coaster, inequality at the heart of global risk, a refugee crisis born of conflict or economic desperation and climate devastation escalating.

All the discussion of a Fourth Industrial Revolution will mean nothing if technology is not deployed in the interests of people and the planet.

Technology can be used to make people's lives easier, to reduce inequality, to facilitate inclusion or to solve intractable global problems but without dialogue and governance, it can be used against humanity -- the choice on how we use technology is ours.

Work has always been influenced by technology and will continue to be. The issue is not will people be displaced but rather will wealth be shared -- will people feel secure and will communities be cohesive. The threat of five million jobs lost by 2020 in 15 countries concerned many Davos thinkers, leaving more than 200 million unemployed today, almost ignored.

But there are some winds of change that will set the course for the next twelve months:

2015 gave us global agreements on sustainable development goals and on climate action;

The election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada has shifted the goal posts;

Inequality is universally accepted as a global risk for both people and the economy;

The global supply chains for many companies are exposed as inhuman;

Wages and a basic income through social protection are no longer tabu;

And women, equality and diversity matter.

Our course for a zero carbon-zero poverty world requires systems change with innovation and technology which must be used to drive new models of economy not drivers of un-chartered change.

But if I had to pick a moment of real hope that a better world is possible it was a conversation with the new Canadian Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Trudeau made history at WEF when he asked for a conversation with unions and civil society.

And what a great conversation we had together.

No issue was off the table. People, values, rights and inclusion permeated responses and the shared optimism for solutions to problems other leaders ignore or deny in the interests of the market was heartening for all involved.

The five priorities for this Prime Minister who concerns himself with inequality and marginalised groups alongside economic and environmental sustainability are;

Education;

Diversity, migration and inclusion;

Minority rights and vital legislative frameworks;

Open and inclusive government, and

Empowerment and inclusion of women.

As a leader Prime Minister Trudeau understands he needs a strong and diverse set of partners to resolves these and other issues that Canada and the world faces today.

This conversation was defined by the challenge of inequality, of conflict, of employment, of resettlement, of justice and both the imperative and the opportunities of meeting the commitment to the sustainable development goals and climate change.

People matter to this Prime Minister and the mark of a true leader is the courage to ask for critique and to be willing to engage in debate.

This conversation alone was worth being in Davos for. Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau.