World Economic Forum 2024: Trust depends on democratic values

photo: Lian Yi AFP

‘Rebuilding Trust’ is the theme of this year’s WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, 15-19 January, where leading government representatives, business leaders and civil society groups will gather to discuss key issues of mutual interest.

However, if it is to be successful, the specific aim of restoring lost confidence in corporate and political structures must be founded on an active respect for democratic values and a demonstrable commitment from governments to act in the interests of the people who elected them, rather than pander to powerful business interests. This is the central message that ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle will deliver to the event.

“The main topics for discussion this week – security and cooperation, creating decent jobs, harnessing artificial intelligence and action on climate, energy and nature – are not only issues for discussion at global level. They reflect the concerns and needs of people everywhere, and it is by delivering on them that governments can start to restore trust at a time when people are losing confidence in institutions and even in democracy itself,” said Luc Triangle.

“Much of the world’s population lives under dictatorship and authoritarian rule, while in established democracies we see populist and far-right politicians willing to lie their way into power with fake propaganda, to destroy democratic systems from within.

“This is especially clear in the world of work where, for many workers, democratic rights such as the right to union representation and collective bargaining are denied to them. This means lower wages, more precarious and hazardous work and ever-growing economic inequality. This in turn drives distrust.

“This is not inevitable; it is a matter of political choice. Governments that make the right choices will see trust in democracy grow and show that the promises of populists are empty. Governments that fail to do this, that side with powerful corporations and oligarchs and refuse to hold to account those that subvert democracy, will deepen distrust and disengagement.

“This is the message we will bring to the gathering of political, business and civil society leaders in Davos this week,” said Luc Triangle.

Luc Triangle has written a blog for the WEF that is available here.