The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is currently underway at Davos, Switzerland. The agenda for this year’s meeting has to do with something WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab called the Fourth Industrial Revolution — also the title of his latest work.

Schwab wrote in his essay for WEF’s Agenda, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society."

With the fourth industrial revolution as its big idea, the annual meeting has, thus far, seen various discussions on the topic. Here’s a list of the key trends emerging from the Davos meeting.

China is “not falling off the cliff", may have a “bumpy landing"

Raghuram Rajan, in an interview to Bloomberg Television, said, “My sense is there is an underlying growth in China. It’s not falling off a cliff." His view was echoed by American economist Nouriel Roubani, who during a China-based discussion at the annual meeting said, “China will neither have a soft or hard landing — growth this year is going to be somewhere around 6%. It’s a bumpy landing, but the good news is that eventually the markets will calm down."

Jiang Jianqing, chairman of the board, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said, “I do not believe there is volatility in the Chinese economy." Growth in China, he added, was still 6.9%.

Robots, automation will replace 5 million jobs by 2020

It might sound unbelievable initially, but a report released by the WEF said that the biggest impact of the fourth industrial revolution will be felt in the way we do our jobs (or how our jobs get done). Significant technological advances, the report added, was transforming the labour markets “beyond all recognition from decades ago", while predicting that it will lead to “a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies by 2020." The report said that economies like Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States would feel the impact.

Schwab added, “Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with future-proof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base."

Future of the European Union

One of the more important discussions at the WEF took place on the future of the European Union, which has been grappling with several challenges over the last two-three years, including the refugee crisis, the Ukraine civil war, the rise of terrorism and extremism, and the Greek economic crisis, to name a few.

French Prime Minister Manuel Vallssaid, “Terrorism must bring Europe closer together. It’s not just Paris that was struck," referring to the November terrorist attack on the Fench capita. On the refugee crisis, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, “What’s happening in Aegean is a crisis: people losing their lives in the sea because traffickers are working there unimpeded." He proposed a mechanism that “will help relocate refugees throughout the rest of Europe, in all EU states."

Climate change

Global warming, according to a pre-meeting WEF report, was at the very top of the list of concerns likely to confront the global economy.

“Climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weaker societal cohesion and increased security risks," said Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group who collaborated on the report, was quoted as saying in The Guardian.

The annual meeting saw a discussion on the theme on Thursday at which UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon urged governments to quickly ratify the agreement reached in Paris in December. He also invited world leaders to a signing ceremony at the UN’s headquarters on 22 April, which is celebrated as Mother Earth Day.

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