Davos 2011: Welcome to the World of the “G-Everybody”

January 31, 2011
  • Aron Cramer portrait

    Aron Cramer

    President and CEO, BSR

In Davos this past week, there was much talk of the "G-Zero" world. This stands in stark contrast to last year's event, when all the talk was about the "G-2," or the United States and China as the de facto world leaders. The thinking behind the "G-Zero" is that neither those two nations, nor any others, are providing leadership on topics ranging from climate change to economic recovery to security in Asia. Those advancing the "G-Zero" theory are claiming that the international community is, in effect, leaderless.

In my view, this logic is precisely backwards. In fact, whether on the streets of Cairo or in the meeting rooms in Davos, we are in fact seeing the emergence of a world led by the "G-Everybody," with leadership coming from an unprecedented number of sources. Examples of this abounded in Davos. Based solely on meetings I participated in (with 2,500+ attendees mixing over five days, one person can't be everywhere), the spirit of productive partnerships was in strong evidence.

A coalition of companies joined with the UN Global Compact and the WWF to launch "Windmade," the first product label providing consumers with the ability to find and purchase products made with wind energy. A group of consumer product companies discussed plans to work jointly with governments over the coming year to develop innovative policy solutions promoting more sustainable consumption models. And the World Economic Forum itself is exploring the creation of guidance for multi-stakeholder partnerships to help them go to scale and deliver results.

All this was happening against the backdrop of the events in Tunisia and Egypt. These latest examples of what used to be called "people power" reinforce one of the most central realities of our times: power and influence are distributed more widely than ever before.

The theme of Davos this year was "Shared Norms for the New Reality." Within the halls of the Congress Centre, where the meeting takes place, I spoke to a lot of people who questioned whether there are in fact "Shared Norms" shaping the world in 2011. And indeed, if we look to a small group of governments, whether a G-20, a G-8, G-2, or G-Zero, to dictate these norms for the rest of us, shared norms are hard to find.

But if we look more widely, shared norms are in fact emerging. Our thinking, our communication, and our social organization are being shaped today by distributed power. Welcome to the world of the "G-everybody," where our information, perspectives and influence come from more sources than we can possibly count. This is our new reality.

This blog also appears on The Huffington Post.

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