With the World Economic Forum (WEF) wrapping up its annual summit in Davos, Switzerland a few weeks ago, critics are not wrong to dismiss it as another media circus where grand gestures and plans are made, but never executed. The meeting brings together more than 2,000 top business leaders, politicians, academics, celebrities, and journalists for up to a week. The aim is to discuss the most pressing international economic and social issues the human race faces. Some issues that were on the table for 2018 was Brexit, crypto currencies, and the North Korean nuclear problem.
Since its founding in 1971, the WEF mission statement has stated that they are “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”. However, the summit has long been criticized for only including the voices of wealthy (mostly) men, who adopt a globalist elite mindset and attend these meetings to shape policies in their favour. Since 2011, the WEF has imposed a gender quota, inviting at least one woman for every five senior executives – which saw an increase in participation from 9% in 2011 to 21% in 2017. Efforts have since been made to ensure equal input from all perspectives are heard, in order to develop attainable goals that take effect at the grassroots level. A significant example is the microlending system, which aims to provide small loans to farmers/entrepreneurs in developing countries to star their own business, and has been shown to significantly reduce poverty and welfare reliance.
This year, there was a keynote speaker that has never held public office, obtained a PhD, or owned a business. Juan Mata from Spain is the first professional soccer player to attend Davos to promote his pledge-based charity, Common Goal, and align his project with the UN’s sustainable development goals. His ground-breaking initiative brought him to present his vision in Switzerland, and even had him team up with Bill Gates, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and Malala Yousafzai for a game of foosball.
Common Goal aims to get professional soccer players to pledge 1% of their active salary towards a collective fund to promote international sports-based initiatives, and calls on professionals, many who make more than $1M a year, to use their audience, celebrity, and social media influence to engage in large-scale social responsibility. Since its inception in August 2017, the project as already recruited 40 players and hopes to gain a “critical mass” that can make a significant difference as their network expands.
With 3.5 Billion Fans, Soccer is the #1 most popular sport in the world, with an uncanny ability to engage emotions, and even bring peace to a warring nation. Professional soccer players are living out the dreams of many young boys (and girls), and their personal brand reach exceed many companies or organizations. I believe this is a great initiative for professional athletes to start giving back beyond the usual hospital visits and charity functions. Soccer is one of the most accessible sources of joy and hope for children in many developing countries. To play, one only needs a ball and a field — a far cry from many sports that has prohibitive costs and gear requirements like Hockey and American Football.
More and more we are seeing the gradual decline of traditional fundraising methods, replaced by the use of social media and influencers/ star power (much like the ALS challenge). With the Common Goal project gaining traction, do you believe it signals a shift in humanitarian work? Can any of these methods be applied to help organizations that have had funding slashed by their government?
I look forward to reading your comments below.