Former UK PM, WEF chair push for int’l cooperation, industrial revolution in COVID fight at WKF 2020

Published September 16, 2020, 3:43 PM

by Isabel de Leon

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May and World Economic Forum (WEF) Chairman Klaus Schwab pushed for international cooperation and industrial revolution in the global fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May (WKF / YouTube / MANILA BULLETIN)
Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May (WKF / YouTube / MANILA BULLETIN)

May and Schwab were key speakers at the opening of the 21st World Knowledge Forum being held online and offline in Seoul, South Korea until September 18.

 “If you look at some of the vaccine developments — the Oxford University vaccine, the link with Astra Zeneca, as we saw the trials in Brazil, the potential for that vaccine to be manufactured in Korea and Mexico — I think that shows an international cooperation on an issue which is very important,” she said.

“I think this is such an important issue that we all work together to ensure that we’re dealing with this pandemic as a world community. I am very sorry that in the early stages of this pandemic, we saw very little real international cooperation around how to deal with the pandemic countries, dealing with it in their own way, rather than perhaps sitting down and discussing and sorting out what the best way to deal with the pandemic was,” she added.

May expressed hope that in the development of the vaccine, there will be more international cooperation and that “social distancing will not turn into national distancing.”

“I think this is a real problem that we do have to have to watch out for. There’s going to be a natural inclination in countries and we see it in the UK and elsewhere to look at issues like global supply chains and to say, should we be manufacturing more in our own countries to provide greater resilience for the future. And I think that will naturally occur,” she warned.

May said the pandemic could exacerbate world trade. “We believe in free trade. We encourage free trade and want to see that free trade around the world,” she added.

‘For those of us who share the values, who still believe in world trade, stand up and be counted to work together, to ensure that we can maintain those global frameworks that have done the world well,” she added.

4th Industrial Revolution

Schwab said to be able to build a post-COVID world, one of the most important places to start will be to ensure that the fruits of the 4th industrial revolution are really shared by all, starting with equitable investments, particularly in education and re-skilling. It also needs a new framework to regulate data ownership, intellectual property, and competition in the fourth industrial revolution that requires public and private cooperation.

“It is very important to embrace the 4th industry revolution and its technology as it will determine our future prosperity like nothing else. COVID-19 has shown us that we need effective international collaboration and modern international organizations play a crucial role in this, but we cannot rely on the structures

and objectives we surpassed to solve challenges of the global population now and in the future,” Schwab said.

He said that his notion of the fourth industrial revolution is that the innovations today in terms of artificial intelligence, the internet of things, cloud computing, advanced robotics, and many others, constitute the new face in human development on par or even exceeding previous industrial revolutions in scale and impact.

“COVID-19, if anything, has accelerated this ongoing industrial revolution. If COVID-19 had happened even 10 years ago, we could not have imagined moving entire companies, schools, and government offices so fast online. Today, that is the reality. The fourth industrial revolution has become a reality,” he said.