I kind of can’t believe I am finally headed back to Davos after a two-year hiatus. We cancelled and rescheduled, and cancelled, and rescheduled, then moved location…and cancelled anyway. All because… don’t even make me say it—the dreaded you-know-what. All of which I found both maddening and embarrassing. Here we are, the smartest people on the planet… coming together to save the planet and… oops… let’s just cancel, and cancel, and cancel. Like schoolteachers saying there’s no need to teach. I know on this point I depart from my colleagues but let’s be honest; there isn’t a six-year backlog for Gulfstreams because we all sat home.
But never mind any of that… I picked up the slack. One of the projects of the World Economic Forum was to scale-up production of alternative protein sources… otherwise known as bugs. They had committed land and resources to this worthwhile endeavour—the proof of which was meant to coincide with our Singapore conference. But Covid had other plans and neither the conference nor the project got off the ground. Based on stories (with pictures!) from the WEF website, I had planned a series of high-end cocktail parties to introduce these mega-proteins to the glitterati. And only when I went to order, did I find the project had gone bust. It was a near-disaster, saved only by clever little farmers in Thailand and China who had apparently been farming and eating the critters for years.
Deep cleansing breath… and we move on. This year’s conference is so packed full of great ideas—I’m sure this is the reason I can’t get onto the website. I am needing to research because I am receiving one of the Schwab Foundation Awards, and all I can find is a news article saying we have collectively impacted the lives of 100 million people. Hmm. Impressive but truth be told I wanted to see how my picture looked on the site. Also I wanted to see just how many of the 100 million lives the other awardees have impacted.
I surfed my inbox for the invite that praised my ‘dedication, and compassion to serve the most marginalised populations of society'. And then it hit me like a sock to the gut: how had I not seen that? The MOST marginalised populations?? Oh boy. Images of me on the cover of Paris Match flashed through my mind. St Tropez is only dwarfed by Monaco. Not exactly marginalised. This was bad. I rang Daddy in sheer panic.
"Yes, Jennifer’, he answered. "What—'
‘Never mind all that…’ I said. ‘I’m in a pickle, I’m getting an award for something I didn’t do’.
‘Hmm. As a parent… imagine my shock’.
‘Daddy!’ I yelled. ‘Not helping!’
‘Jennifer’ he shot back. ‘Helping! Anyway, what are you supposed to have done? I thought you were an environmentalist. Aren’t you saving the world every single day?’
‘Yes, but no. I’m a social innovator now’.
‘I see. So you’re a jobs creator then. Problem solved. But does it really matter what you say? The WEF offers so few details, it leaves little to oppose’.
Ugh! He had a point. ‘Okay, but we are the trustees of society’, I said, trying not to sound full-on wobbly.
‘Listen, sweetheart, call it what you like, but everyone over there has a planning mentality, and to those kind of people the natural order of the world seems irrational. So they will ram their ideas down our throats and into our policy but in truth, they often do the things before we need them’.
‘Which is a good thing!’ I said.
‘No', he replied, 'it’s a planning mentality. Flying came before airports. It could not have been the other way around, but if you’re Klaus, sitting around a table designing something, you might think you need airports first. Uber was meant to be a carpooling app… groups of people piling into a van to share one ride. But now we see Uber drivers actually need small cars that fit only one or two passengers. Some places are just now installing telephone cable—because they paid for it, and planned for it, but everyone is already using cell phones as cables are stretched beneath their feet’.
This was making my head spin. I had to ring off. Daddy had made some good points but I was committed to the planet, and to making a good representation for myself and my clients. Plus my dinner was served.
I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until I realised we were circling—some security issue and we couldn’t land. We had been warned security would be tighter than ever with a record $20 million being spent and more than 5,000 armed forces personnel on guard. The delay was something about safeguarding airspace that had us circling for the last hour. I glanced outside—it looked like an anaemic-airshow.
Just then my phone buzzed. ‘This is Jennifer’. I answered even though I knew it was my father.
‘Maybe delete your tweet complaining about circling for the last hour, sweetheart? It’s not the best look for the carbon-conscious…’
‘You see? Helping!’ he said.
‘Yes, Daddy, helping. Thank you.’