This year’s Davos Forumhas an unmistakably more sober feel compared to years past.
Overshadowed by the tragic events in Haiti, the theme of this year’sfive-day event is appropriately titled: “Improving the State of theWorld: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild.” As representatives frombusiness, government and civil society convene here in Switzerland torespond to this challenge, it is important to keep in mind that fixingthe global economic system requires more than simply repairing a fewroads and bridges; instead we need to think bigger about how toestablish the groundwork for tomorrow’s world economy. Gettingthe world economy back on track and creating new jobs will require asustained commitment to actualizing a low-carbon economy—something thatwas paid lip service to at Copenhagen but not earnestly pursued. I tookup this pivotal issue last night with two of the most respectedthinkers in the field—New York Times’ columnist and best-selling authorTom Friedman and chairman and CEO of Duke Energy Jim Rogers—during a dinner and conversation moderated by Fox Business Network’s Liz Claman on how renewable energy can serve as an effective engine for economic growth.
Of course, many countries around the globe—including emergingeconomies—have already awakened to the idea that investment inrenewable energy is not only a sound environmental decision, but ashrewd business strategy as well. India, for example, which is expectedto assume a major role at this year’s forum, has been pouring extensiveresources into the development of clean energy technology, and showsfew signs of letting up anytime soon. India, along with China, Japanand other renewable heavyweights, understand that the emergence of“energy shapers” (renewables) can play an influential role nowalongside “energy governors” (fossil fuels). The U.S. is beginning tocome around to this notion, but unless we step up effortssignificantly, our chances of regaining competitiveness in the cleanenergy race will be severely curtailed.
The private sector has an indisputable role to play in ensuring thatthe transition to a renewable-driven world is more than just a pipedream. As a proven leader in the semiconductor, display and, now, solarindustries, Applied Materials has the expertise and technologicalprowess to assist in making such a world a reality. As I meet withcurrent and former heads of state this week, I will be driving home thepoint that for an economic recovery to be successful—guided by the veryprinciples of “Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild”—renewables need to figureprominently in any solution.