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Opening session of the third Government Summit underlines innovation as driving force of economic competitiveness

posted on 10/02/2015: 1232 views

The third Government Summit, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, marked its opening by underlining the role of innovation in driving the economic competitiveness of nations and enhancing the quality of life of people.

Addressing the gathering of heads of states, high-ranking government officials, technology experts and educationalists from around the world, Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Government Summit, said: "The Government Summit reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum that innovation is today's imperative in ensuring the progress of humanity and in building stable, progressive and creative communities." "The Summit serves as a global platform to address the challenges of the future and build an environment that fosters the well-being of individuals and stability of nations. The experts address tough questions such as how we can change our educational system to enable students to access jobs that do not exist today, and ways to prepare for a future when current jobs become obsolete with technology advancement. They also explore the challenges faced by governments in a fast-changing world to ensure the sustained happiness and welfare of citizens," said Al Gergawi.

In his keynote address, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, said that the UAE is today among the first countries globally to take the lead in educating its people on the impact of the technology revolution through initiatives such as The Government Summit.

He identified the "3 Es" –educate, engage and empower- that are important to strengthen a culture of innovation by governments, adding that innovation is the way forward to boost economic competitiveness.

Schwab said "governments must prepare its people the changes brought by the new wave of technology revolution – and what the UAE does in this regard is extraordinary. Alongside, it is important to build the skills of the people by changing our education systems. Virtual education will play a big role and an area where UAE could be one of the first adopters." He said that engaging the private sector is the second key driver, and that partnerships between governments, businesses and the civil society will help shape a new innovation ecosystem. The third driver is empowering communities, particularly women, and making them a part of the change process.

Calling for a future that will be defined by true pioneers and pace-setters in innovation, Schwab said one of the fundamental enablers to promote innovation by governments is to restore the current trust deficit that political and business leaders face. "Leaders must respond to the needs of the people who have lost their trust in the leadership through honesty, morality and responsibility," he noted.

He commended the UAE leadership for setting a model in this regard, adding that clear and visionary leadership has enabled the country to enhance its global competitiveness ranking from 27 four years ago to the 12th position now.

Mr Schwab said that meritocracy must assume significance in today's post-crisis world. "The economic future over the next few years will be characterised by low growth, rather than high growth, with even emerging economies going through a mid-life crisis. The future challenges can be met only by governments, working in close cooperation with businesses. Governments need to treat private business as a true partner." In addition to the breakdown in trust and the challenges of the post-crisis world, Mr Schwab said the third defining factor that influences the future of governments is the new technological revolution.

"The revolution is not changing what and how we use technology, but changing us and our lives. Just look at the impact of the internet on the notion of privacy. The new generation has completely different notion of privacy from us, the older generation." He said that unlike the scientific revolutions of the past that arrived in waves, ‘today's tech revolution is a tsunami and disruptive. This calls for system innovation, in today's era of ‘talentism,' where humanity's capability for imagination and innovation builds a new ecosystem." "In this, governments have an essential role to play – though innovation has tended to come from private business, governments have to be catalysts, driving the innovation in this ecosystem. Robots, drones and AI will be critical in the future and again I congratulate the UAE for its work with drones – it is very impressive and pioneering," said Mr Schwab.

From its earlier focus on knowledge accumulation and competition, South Korea is shifting to a new educational system that places emphasis on "character education," to prepare its youth to be true citizens of the future, said Hwang Woo-yea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education.

Addressing the Summit opening, he said that the country is now introducing "traditional values, courtesy and respect as a key part of the educational curriculum" to prepare a new generation that recognises the importance of compassion and cooperation.

Hwang Woo-yea said that South Korea leads the world in the allocation of funds for R&D and today invests over US$2 billion annually to promote entrepreneurial education in universities, which has contributed to a surge in the number of start-up ventures in the country.

Highlighting the role of education in achieving the transformational growth of the country, he said that the driving forces in this are the timely reforms by the government, strategic approaches for the educational sector, parental passion in providing high quality education for their children and creating a cadre of highly qualified teachers.

Hwang Woo-yea said that the priority of the government has been to create a highly talented pool of professionals to meet the demands of the economy. He said that the respect that South Koreans place for teachers has in turn encouraged a number of high achievers to choose teaching as a career, further strengthening the country's educational sector.

He said that for 2015, the country's strategy is to foster creative talent through several path-breaking steps including an ‘exam-free semester' for middle school students to encourage them to take part in opportunities to explore their career options and utilise their talent. The country is also adopting its STEAM model that covers Science, Technology, English, Arts and Mathematics, to ensure the convergence of science and art to enhance the creativity of students.

The third Government Summit is held under the theme ‘Shaping Future Governments' and hosts more than 100 guest speakers from outside the UAE. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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