Heavy snow tried to bury Davos last week during the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting, but the chill certainly didn't affect the welcome we received. After a nearly six-hour car ride from the airport, I arrived to my second Davos meeting feeling excited and privileged to be there.
The mood in Davos was much more lively and optimistic this year compared to the subdued mood of 2017, when political and economic uncertainty seemed to hang in the air. There were very few quiet moments amid a week of attending client meetings, panel discussions and fringe events, and of course US President Donald Trump's eagerly-anticipated closing speech with its more conciliatory tone of, 'America First does not mean America alone,' as he pitched doing business in America to the packed hall.
One of my key takeaways from this year's meeting is that a new era of globalization is very much upon us and a concerted effort to find a more inclusive, sustainable model is long overdue. Over the last decade, opportunities unleashed by technology have accelerated, ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Innovation has created new business models, disrupting incumbents. Corporations are focused on removing friction from supply chains and service delivery while governments, regulators, incumbent players and societies react to disruption with more friction. Complex forces are at play — forces we must contend with a legal mind-set in a measured way.
As part of our long-standing partnership with the Forum, we are the only global law firm to be involved with their San Francisco-based Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we currently have an associate of ours, Yoon Chae, working at the Center on projects involving artificial intelligence and machine learning. The Center is committed to accelerating the deployment of technology and science for a positive impact on individuals and societies, while minimizing their downside risks. As part of this new relationship, I was invited to attend the World Economic Forum's Chairman Advisory Board meeting, and it was exciting to have a seat at the table for this crucial conversation.
This issue featured heavily on my agenda while in Davos. Last year, we became the first law firm to join the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 businesses working to promote sustainable practices. This year, it was great to catch up with Peter Bakker, the CEO of the organization, who shared some excellent insights into how Big Law can help corporate boards shape their policies on environmental stewardship, human rights and other social issues. Peter stressed the need to move to a circular economy, where we reduce our waste and look at how we can reuse and recycle. I heard a startling figure at the event, that just 9% of the world's goods today are repurposed and given new life as new products. That has to change.
I was invited to moderate a panel on corporate governance and the role of investors. This generated a lively discussion about governance and potential legal reforms that are required aimed to create more sustainable growth for the world economy. Those types of reforms are being debated in every market across the world. From highly developed ones like the US to a more emerging market like Kyrgyzstan. As with many other emerging markets my Firm has a long record of working with that country's government, helping to found the US Kyrgyzstan Business Council in 2016, and it was a great pleasure to spend some time with Prime Minister Sapar Isakov discussing ways that global law firms can help emerging markets begin to realize their potential. One of the challenges we talked about was finding companies willing to invest in emerging markets because of concerns about market regulations or compliance risks.
Once again, Davos left me and all the delegates with a lot to think about over the coming months, as we continue to seek ways to collaborate in this dynamic and evolving market and what the implications are for this change for the legal sector.