// . //  Insights //  Key Takeaways From Davos 2024 According To Oliver Wyman CEO

As always, the dynamic environment of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting sparked myriad discussions across a wide range of topics this year, from global business conditions to the future of the planet itself. Here are some of my main takeaways from Davos 2024. 

Navigating economic uncertainty

While we do not appear to be heading toward an economic disaster, a sudden recovery also doesn’t appear imminent, leaving companies without a simple strategy to pursue.

As we navigate down a middle path there are valid debates about the persistence of inflation and the effectiveness of central banks in controlling it. In my view, we still have challenges ahead, particularly due to supply chain disruptions caused by ongoing conflicts. Companies will need to outperform their competitors.

Geopolitics dominated conversations, with one Marsh McLennan dinner speaker stating, “Wars are by definition one of the most uncertain of events.” We heard a lot about the continuing reorganization of supply chains, which benefits some countries but puts pressure on China. In financial services, the so-called Basel endgame will have many effects, including the acceleration of private credit as a source of funding, while also potentially removing some funds away from the energy transition.

The pervasiveness of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) was so ubiquitous this year that it seemed almost mandatory to host an AI-related event. At our Oliver Wyman Forum and Mercer event focusing on the workforce, John Romeo remarked that 2024 will be the year this technology finally goes mainstream. He anticipates a forthcoming debate about what exactly that entails.

Coming back to the multiplicity of views, nowhere was this more present than in conversations on AI. Ana Kreacic's response to a question about AI misconceptions truly resonated: “There are two sides to everything we are looking at.” That duality of perspective is the underlying concept of a fantastic AI report authored by the Oliver Wyman Forum and launched in Davos.

Will AI be a force for good, bad, or everything in between? We still have a way to go before we can really answer this. Both quantitative and qualitative feedback is a necessary start, and the 90-plus pages of this report provides just that. 

The impact of climate change and health

At COP28, we saw the first-ever health-focused day, an indicator of the growing concern and the need for the public sector to start solving for the challenge. During our WEF-affiliate session, “Strategies To Mitigate Climate-Related Health Risks,” led by Rolf Fricker, Dr. Oliver Eitelwein presented our study, which we conducted in partnership with the WEF. The study is the first-ever quantification of climate change’s impact on health. The statistics are startling: Climate change could result in an additional 14.5 million deaths, $12.5 trillion in economic losses worldwide, and $1.1 trillion in extra costs to healthcare systems by 2050.

It’s no surprise that the Global Risks Report 2024 — based on a survey conducted with more than 1,400 leaders and experts by Marsh McLennan in collaboration with the World Economic Forum — ranks extreme weather events as the second-highest risk over the next two years, and the highest over the next 10. There is still time for the global economy to decisively reduce emissions and enact strategies to safeguard human health from the impacts of climate change, but it’s going to require a collective effort of everyone, from civil society to private and public organizations. 

Understanding and protecting biodiversity 

I attended several panels during the week on the topic of climate and sustainability. One of the most thought-diverse discussions was on pricing nature, which centered not on capitalizing a scarce resource but on respecting it. In Davos, we saw the launch of The Indigenous Peoples' Knowledge and Leadership Network, and it was a privilege to have Uyunkar Domingo Peas Nampichkai, president of the board of directors for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance, join the discussion.

Indigenous people protect 80% of global biodiversity. Their opinions and perspectives are vital in understanding nature’s value and how we better support the stewardship undertaken by local communities. I delve deeper into my insights from Davos on nature here.

Oliver Wyman also hosted its own nature event led by Matthieu De Clercq, focusing on how cities can enact policies needed to support nature. The panel highlighted the importance of boldness, experimentation with technology, and practical, cost-effective solutions for sustainable city planning.

Overall, Davos 2024 was an engaging week, meeting with hundreds of clients across the public sector, the private sector, as well as representatives of civil society. All are striving to collaboratively structure solutions for the world’s problems. Speaking on behalf of the Oliver Wyman delegation, we very much enjoyed working together with everyone on these problems and are looking forward to picking up these conversations as we return home and press on with the work of the year ahead.