Policy, Public

World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Human Rights

Hilary Sutcliffe

16 Jan 2017


Hilary has been invited to contribute to the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Human Rights from November 2016 to 2018. She previously contributed to the WEF Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology.


This amazing group of people come together over two years to consider the implications of human rights and what WEF term the '4th Industrial Revolution' - meaning the convergence of the digital, physical and biological realms - basically the new technologies which are beginning shape our world.


The initial meeting in Dubai explored with other Futures Councils the potential for human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in particular, to contribute an underpinning framework of values for the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Hilary is taking the lead on convening a stakeholder consultation and an exploratory paper which will be developed over the next year.  


The WEF is doing some very interesting work, which is very interesting to be part of and contribute to. 

"Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.


Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has been at the centre of global affairs for over four decades. He is convinced that we are at the beginning of a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another, which he explores in his new book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution.


"Previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.


"The resulting shifts and disruptions mean that we live in a time of great promise and great peril. The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions.


"However, Schwab also has grave concerns: that organizations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.


"Schwab puts the most recent changes into historical context, outlines the key technologies driving this revolution, discusses the major impacts on governments, businesses, civil society and individuals, and suggests ways to respond. At the heart of his analysis is the conviction that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is within the control of all of us as long as we are able to collaborate across geographies, sectors and disciplines to grasp the opportunities it presents.


"In particular, Schwab calls for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.


"Learning how humankind can benefit from this revolution while addressing its challenges is also the central aim of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, which is being held under the theme “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.


"Crowdsourcing ideas, insights and wisdom from the World Economic Forum’s global network of top leaders from business, government and civil society and young leaders, this new book looks deeply at the future that is unfolding today and how we might take collective responsibility to ensure it is a positive one for all of us.


A free PDF copy of this very interesting book is available on the WEF website.