OXFORDSHIRE, UK — We live in a time of uncertainty. The aftershocks of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and the spread of misinformation are just some of the forces creating turbulence in the world today. In the first session of BoF VOICES 2022, speakers addressed our moment of volatility and why there is cause for optimism.
Conflict, Climate, Contagion
By the end of this year, one in ten children worldwide will face malnutrition, the result of the worst hunger crisis the world has faced in a generation, said Mercy Corps CEO Tjada From Oyen McKenna, describing in harrowing detail a recent trip to Somalia, where drought and soaring food prices have made the African country one of the most affected.
The hunger crisis is just one of the ways the triple threat of climate change, conflict and the spread of Covid-19 is rippling through the global economy, with little relief in sight.
The war in Ukraine has been a particularly destabilizing force this year, turning the world’s grain fields into battlefields and driving up energy and food prices. It is a conflict with complex origins and no real winner, even if a political settlement can be negotiated.
In Ukrainian cities liberated from Russian occupation, “after the jubilation, victory feels very dark and very dark and very empty,” said Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent. “While there is no doubt that Ukraine is somehow winning this war, it comes at a very bitter cost.”
Market and cultural troubles
Uncertainty plays out in stock markets and in popular culture.
“2021 looks like a glitch in the matrix,” said Tim Ingrassia, managing director and co-chairman of global M&A at Goldman Sachs, describing how huge swings in consumer spending have contributed to massive swings in corporate valuations. over the past year. . As 2023 approaches, economic growth is expected to normalize, but large uncertainties remain. The disinformation pandemic is adding to the turbulence, said journalist Aymen Mohyeldin.
The generation coming of age today is angry, painfully aware both of the magnitude of the challenges they face and of their role in perpetuating them. “We should be asking ourselves some really tough questions,” said Ziad Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of consultancy Gen-Z JUV. “I’m here with clothes that probably cost too much in a room full of people who probably earn too much in a world where most people don’t have enough.”
cause for optimism
But for all the challenges discussed in the session, there was cause for optimism. Ward highlighted how the war in Ukraine brought out the best in people with the worst, citing the power of the human spirit.
“In a world of pandemics, climate crises and global hunger, there is no us and them, only us,” said D’Oyen McKenna, arguing for a new sense of global community.
Mo Gawdat – author, founder of One Billion Happy and former chief commercial officer of Google X – painted a chilling picture of a not-too-distant future run by artificial intelligence, but hinted that people could teach the ethics of sensitive computers that allow them to help solve very complex challenges like climate change and limit human suffering.
Tune in to day two of BoF VOICES 2022 where we’ll begin by unveiling the findings of our annual report, The State of Fashion 2023, in partnership with McKinsey & Company. Subscribe to the livestream to see global pioneers changing the industry status quo and a bold group of entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists using technology to power a better future.
BoF VOICES 2022 is made possible in part thanks to our partners McKinsey & Company, Shopify, Flannels, Brandlive, Lenzing, ShopRunner, Instantaneous, Canada Goose, Unseen Collection, Soho Houseand Getty Images.