#innovation and technology #environmental sustainability and growth The social and environmental impact of the post covid era by Stephan Mergenthaler | Delphi Economic Forum, powered by Qualco Group

The dynamics of a new era, overflown with the challenges of the pandemic, as well as the impact across environmental, social, and governmental aspects were the key points of Stephan Mergenthaler’s, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Member of the Executive Committee at World Economic Forum, keynote speech at the Delphi Economic Forum conference, powered by Qualco Group.


Referring to accelerating change at a global scale, Mr. Mergenthaler stated that “We may be still talking about digital transformation, however, this term will no longer be included in our agenda a few years from now, since every organisation not adapting to the digital era, will simply cease to exist.” He then, highlighted the imperative of interactive models, in view of building a more resilient society and economy, as well as the necessity of reeducating the majority of the workforce on a worldwide basis. It’s worth mentioning that in parallel, Mr. Mergenthaler came to further highlight digital transformation as one of the most critical challenges for Europe to face within the next 10 years in his recent interview at ‘Kathimerini’, stating that “It entails both the reshaping of organisations in view of coping with the digital era and the ‘battle’ of attracting new talents. For the latter, the younger generations tend to care less about the work environment itself and more about the organisations’ values.”


Additionally, and with regards to the pandemic and its social impact, especially in the employment sector and its future, he explicitly said that “At the beginning of the pandemic we were all enthusiastic, with technology companies declaring that ‘we will never return to our previous habits and the analog world.’ Indeed, our accomplishments were numerous, with technology making all interactions possible. However, we all soon came to realise the true value of personal contact and the need for face-to-face interaction to build trust. I think that trust in society and organisations is of fundamental value and demands personal contact. Thus, we are all witnessing people shifting back again to traveling and meetings, however, we are perfectly aware that they can be productive across multiple different levels. Thus, I believe that we will all come across a more flexible workplace, as already planned. But still, all estimations around establishing remote work were exaggerated, since the shift to personal contact that has proven to be essential, is already a fact.”


By employing multiple cases from the past, when tools such as cloud computing, seemed inconceivable in countries like Greece, however, were rapidly integrated into the framework of technological change, Mr. Mergenthaler declared that technology has proven to be a major contributor in both economic and social activities. “Technology helps us, not only conceive how the world has changed in the present compared to the past, but also foresee with great accuracy how it’s going to change in the future.”, as he added. He then presented the case of the water table’s increase in Shanghai, China, and how it will impact the economic activity while emphasising how urbanisation will be affected through a model developed by the World Economic Forum and Google.


When asked with regards to the imperative of a forecasting strategy, however within a rather ever-changing environment, Mr. Mergenthaler stated that “We at World Economic Forum have been consulting organisations, businesses, and governments for several years to not cope with phenomena, such as climate change, urbanisation, or social transformations individually, but build new forms of cross-sectional cooperation instead.”


“The 4rth Industrial Revolution is a challenge for the future with a trajectory curve, with the Green Revolution being one shaped like a steep slope, given that the needs having emerged from the climate crisis (maintaining global temperature on 1.5 degrees Celsius, etc.) are more demanding and immediate. We call for new, innovative ways to face the environmental challenges, with the participation of all parties involved.”, as he explicitly said.


Further to this thesis at the Delphi Economic Forum, Mr. Mergenthaler referred to the most crucial challenges that Europe will come across within the next decade, in his interview at ‘Kathimerini’. More specifically, he highlighted that “The green transition constitutes the most significant challenge of our generation, while I firmly believe that we just came to realise the true depth of changes required across all sectors. We are not just talking about an energy transition, but mainly about drastic changes across transportation, food, etc.”