November 8, 2023
They say timing is everything – and in the case of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore this week – that feels more prescient than ever.
The Forum is a year-round undertaking. From the minute our 2022 event concluded, our planning for this year’s Forum began, where we’ve gathered more than 500 of the world’s most important business executives, thought leaders and Heads of State.
Settling on a cohesive theme for an event of this scale means trying to predict the future a bit. While disruption, volatility and risk were consistent themes at last year’s Forum, this year’s is set against the backdrop of new and, in some cases, unforeseen shocks.
One example: a year ago, ChatGPT had yet to be publicly announced, and now nearly every industry and discipline is solving for its impact; assessing moral responsibility, business opportunity – and some just trying to catch up. Clearly, the world has changed significantly since we last got together.
So when I think about this year’s theme – embracing instability – it feels incredibly apt for these complicated times.
Mike Bloomberg, who started this event six years ago, explained it simply in his opening remarks: “There is no shortage of instability in the world – and trying to run away from it would only make it worse…The Forum is designed to help us examine the different factors driving instability and the risks they present for the future.”
The interconnectedness of our various risks in today’s world is what struck me most about day one here in Singapore. Nearly every conversation – whether it was on the plenary main stage, in small-group breakouts, or even casual coffee conversations – seemed to touch on this.
Geopolitical risk took center stage for obvious reasons – given the two significant wars underway – but the discussions about the practical ramifications of unchecked risk were captivating. From suggestions that the ‘peace dividend’ era is behind us, to discussions about the unpredictable future of supply chains in Asia, or the risk of taking our eye off climate change – it all tied together in ways I didn’t expect. Frankly, “geopolitics” as a term and study sometimes creates a lofty distance from peoples’ day-to-day challenges. Day one of the Forum shattered that illusion.
And while the scale of those challenges can seem overwhelming, that’s exactly what the New Economy Forum is all about. In my experience, it excels at bringing leaders together, putting complex problems in front of them, and then giving them the time and space to discuss ideas that can change the world.
Day one’s discussions set the stage, devoted to understanding our problems. Now we’ll look deeper into what we can do to tackle them and thrive in the future. I can’t wait.