Call to action: Bringing together politics, business, and individuals for global solutions
By Martin Plendl - February 02, 2012
“Knowing is not enough; we must also apply. Willing is not enough; we must also act.”
This quote by German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe has accompanied me through the days in Davos at this year's World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Seeing the pressing issues to be resolved has filled me with a sense of responsibility, corporate as well as personal. Yet no one person, company, or nation can achieve this alone. Change will only happen through dialogue and mutual respect; Davos offers a perfect forum to foster this conversation and build this respect.
Only together can we address and hope to resolve the big themes our world is facing:
In the context of the current debt crisis and future of the Euro, it was interesting to see the different viewpoints on Europe expressed – sometimes quite emotionally. While many are looking to Germany to take action and save the Euro, the German chancellor Angela Merkel made it quite clear that no single country alone can achieve this task—a stable Euro is only possible in a culture of responsibility shared among the nations of the common currency area, supported by a willingness to undertake the reform efforts necessary for sustainable, competitive growth. This does not only apply to Europe alone, many industrialized nations are facing the challenge of bringing their debt levels back to sustainable ranges.
For China, a different scenario was discussed: inflation and the sustainability of the fast economic development are the pressing issues the nation needs to address, especially against the background of an upwardly mobile and aging population, rapid urbanization, exploding housing demands in boom areas, and severe environmental problems.
The common denominator for these important issues clearly emerged in all Davos talks: neither can be resolved in isolation. It was impressive to experience the spirit of open discussion at Davos, with government officials, economists, and top-business leaders reaching out to each other and exchanging ideas and expertise in the earnest endeavor to support sustainable solutions.
And it was especially encouraging to see the young generation bring their own creative contributions to this task. For the first time, the forum had invited about 60 “Global Shapers”—young leaders under 30—to share the view of the generation that will be running the world in decades to come. And theirs is a demanding vision. They expect the political and business leaders to find long term solutions for a global society—reminding each of us of our global responsibility.
This clearly correlates with the results of our own Deloitte Millennials research—the next generation rejects profit as the sole measure of success and believes that the purpose of business is primarily innovation and societal development. I take home from Davos a strong conviction that sustainable change is in our power if we all work together, and a deep feeling of responsibility for “walking the talk”.
Prof. Dr. Martin Plendl is CEO of Deloitte Germany and a member of the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Global Executive. He is a German certified public auditor and German accredited tax advisor. He has been a managing partner at Deloitte Germany since 1996. He is also a member of the Central Expert Committee as well as of the Board of Directors of the German Institute of Auditors. Additionally, Martin serves as honorary professor for Accounting and Auditing at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.