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Envisioning Governance 4.0

When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, the world will need a new governance model that differs from its predecessors in several fundamental respects. In particular, while finance, economics, and business remain vitally important, they must serve society and nature – not the other way around.

GENEVA – In 2022, the COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad crises it spawned may finally start to recede. But even in that best-case scenario, a tsunami of new challenges – from the failure of climate action to the erosion of social cohesion – is within sight. Addressing them will require leaders to adopt a different governance model.

When our institutions are well governed, we pay little attention to them. They are simply invisible infrastructure supporting the economy and virtually all aspects of the social order. And “good enough” governance in the second half of the twentieth century enabled income growth and social peace.

Today, however, many people have lost faith in their leaders. Faced with mounting risks and our collective failure to address them, we have started looking for culprits. Some point the finger at inept political leaders, others blame “Davos Man” CEOs, and a desperate, growing minority sees an elite conspiracy behind the current doom and gloom.