The 62 richest billionaires on the planet own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, Oxfam announced on Monday. This dreadful revelation came two days ahead of the start of the 46th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, where over 40 heads of state and government, as well as 2,500 leaders, chief executives and company chairs, will discuss the state of the world's economy. The influential summit kicked off on Wednesday under the central theme of "mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution".
The many topics on the agenda won't be limited to strictly economic issues, but will also include topical subjects such as the root causes of the refugee crisis, climate change and, indeed, the global gap between the rich and poor. The Davos talks are an appropriate place to discuss the exponential increase in the concentration of wealth, a topic which recalls not only the general sense of social justice that we want to be the basis of our future societies, but also very concrete issues. Here, we are referring to the disproportionate, irrational and careless use of the world's natural resources as well as to the multiple tax havens around the globe. These two elements, together with many others, can explain, in part, why many parts of the world suffer from deep political instability and how these wealth disparities are formed and consolidated, not only in our societies, but also on a global scale.
Indeed, fighting for the closing down of so-called tax havens is an integral part of the Green fight for global justice. In December, for example, a special committee that investigates tax rulings and other harmful measures was resumed: an intense battle in which the Greens pushed hard to ensure the Parliament's investigations could continue.
This is to say nothing of the challenges climate change poses on a global scale. Climate change already displaces thousands of individuals every year, a figure destined to increase if the climate deal agreed in Paris in December is not implemented with ambitious, concrete and progressive measures. On Tuesday night, the actor Leonardo Di Caprio reminded the crowd in Davos that "our planet cannot be saved unless we leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong" – a position which the Greens, together with the Divestment movement, have tirelessly advocated for many years. The Greens fight for a fairer model of society that can be built on a complete shift away from fossil fuels and on massive investments in green technologies in the fields of energy, the building sector, urban planning and agriculture.
There cannot be economic growth without social and climate justice and a fairer distribution of resources, burdens and wealth in the world. We invite the global leaders in Davos to acknowledge this, and to take consistent action to reduce disparities and pave the way for fairer, more inclusive and sustainable growth for our economies and societies. That's our challenge for the future.