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Rethinking Global Economic Growth: A Critical Analysis of the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Growth’ Report

World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Growth’

The World Economic Forum’s report, ‘Future of Growth,’ represents a paradigm shift in understanding global economic development. In challenging traditional views on growth, the WEF asserts that current approaches are no longer sufficient to address the complexities and challenges facing the global community. The report emphasizes the need for a more comprehensive and forward-thinking growth framework that considers multiple dimensions, such as innovation, inclusion, sustainability and resilience. These elements are critical to navigating the uncertainties of the modern world and ensuring that economic growth is not only robust, but also socially and environmentally responsible.

The proposed growth framework outlined in the report underscores the importance of innovation as a catalyst for economic progress. It encourages countries to invest in research and development, technological advancement and the development of a culture that embraces creativity and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the framework emphasizes the importance of inclusive development, which aims to bridge social gaps and reduce inequality. With sustainable development identified as a cornerstone, policymakers are urged to prioritize environmentally friendly practices that ensure long-term prosperity without compromising the health of the planet. Finally, resilience in the face of unexpected challenges is highlighted as an essential quality, calling on countries to build robust systems that can withstand shocks and adapt to changing circumstances. By delving into these key areas, the ‘Future of Growth’ report provides a roadmap for shaping a more holistic and adaptive approach to global economic development.

Hazards since Covid-19:

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the global economy has experienced considerable disruption, deviating from the growth trajectory observed in the pre-pandemic era. The World Economic Forum (WEF) emphasizes the disruptive impact of the pandemic, which has not only created a massive health crisis but also led to profound economic consequences. Lockdowns, travel bans and supply chain disruptions imposed to curb the spread of the virus have slowed, disrupting economic activity across sectors and countries. The aftermath of the pandemic has been characterized by a challenging recovery process, with uncertainty surrounding the global economic landscape.

Moreover, the post-Covid-19 era has seen the emergence of additional challenges that have further hampered economic progress. Geopolitical tensions, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, have added a layer of complexity to the global situation, introducing uncertainty that affects international trade and stability. Financial crises and environmental challenges, along with climate change-related issues, have compounded the constraints facing the global economy. Recognizing these multifaceted challenges, the WEF argues that the conventional view of global economic growth, which was disrupted by the pandemic and subsequent geopolitical and environmental issues, requires a thorough reassessment. Post-Covid-19 shocks underscore the need for a more adaptive and resilient approach to economic development, as highlighted in the ‘Future of Growth’ report.

Suggested Growth Framework:

The growth framework proposed by the World Economic Forum is based on four interconnected pillars that collectively redefine the trajectory of global economic development. The first pillar, innovation, stands as a beacon of progress, advocating a concerted emphasis on research and development, technological advancement and the cultivation of a dynamic ecosystem that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship. By prioritizing innovation, nations can harness the power of cutting-edge solutions to address pressing challenges, ensuring sustainable growth in the face of evolving global dynamics.

The second pillar, inclusive development, addresses the need to bridge social gaps and reduce inequality. Recognizing that uncontrolled economic growth can exacerbate inequality, the WEF underscores the importance of policies and initiatives that ensure that the benefits of development are shared equitably among different populations. By doing so, inclusive development not only builds social cohesion but also strengthens economic resilience by building a stronger and more participatory foundation.

Sustainable development is included in the third pillar, which reflects the WEF’s commitment to environmental responsibility. The organization claims that a myopic pursuit of growth can lead to irreversible damage to the environment. Therefore, the proposed framework advocates practices that prioritize environmental integrity by emphasizing the importance of balancing economic progress with environmental conservation. By embracing sustainable development, nations can navigate the delicate balance between prosperity

Current state of the global economy:

The World Economic Forum’s assessment of the current state of the world economy, measured through the lens of its proposed growth framework, paints a nuanced picture. Using a scale from zero to 100 for each of the four key growth factors – innovation, inclusive development, sustainable development and resilience – the WEF’s assessment suggests that the world is at the midpoint of realizing its vision to become more inclusive and adaptive. Economic landscape.

Examining the scores, innovation stands at 45.2, highlighting that there is considerable room for improvement in global breakthrough ideas and technological advancements. Inclusive development, with a score of 55.9, indicates progress but emphasizes the need for continued efforts to address social inequality and promote economic participation among different segments of the population. The score for sustainable development is 46.8, indicating recognition of the importance of environmental responsibility but indicating that significant progress is still needed to reconcile economic growth with environmental integrity. Resilience, with a score of 52.8, reflects a moderate level of preparedness to face unexpected challenges but suggests that further improvements are needed to strengthen the global economic system against potential shocks.

Overall, the rising scores illuminate that the world is navigating a critical juncture in its pursuit of a growth paradigm that integrates innovation, inclusion, sustainability and resilience. The assessment serves as a call to action for countries and policymakers to strengthen their commitment to these essential growth factors to move the global economy closer to a planned holistic and adaptive framework.

Challenges and Discrimination:

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Future of Growth’ report highlights the various challenges and persistent disparities countries face for sustainable and inclusive economic development. A significant challenge highlighted in the report is the unpreparedness of many countries for demographic change. As populations age or change in size and composition, countries need to adapt their economic structures and policies to meet growing demands. Additionally, high-income countries struggle with talent shortages, hampering their ability to innovate. A lack of skilled professionals in key sectors is a barrier to progress and emphasizes the need to invest in education and workforce development.

The report emphasizes the impact of digitization on economic opportunities, especially for developing countries. While digitization presents a gateway to growth, the widening gap between developed and developing countries raises concerns about deepening economic inequality. The digital divide, both within and between countries, reinforces inequalities in access to technology and opportunities, hindering the ability of certain regions to fully exploit the benefits of the digital age. This inequality not only stifles innovation but also perpetuates global economic imbalances.

To meet this challenge, WEF emphasizes the important role of digitization and strong service infrastructure. The adoption of advanced technologies and the development of supportive digital ecosystems can open up new avenues of economic growth, especially for countries seeking to bridge the gap between their current position and the desired growth parameters outlined in the report. The WEF emphasizes the importance of concerted efforts to embrace the benefits of digitization, reach all segments of society and foster a more equitable global economic landscape. In doing so, the report advocates a comprehensive and collaborative approach to addressing the multifaceted challenges and inequalities underlying the complex landscape of global economic growth.

Income Inequality and Carbon Emissions:

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) ‘Future of Growth’ report highlights two key challenges that have far-reaching implications for global economic sustainability: income inequality and the inadequacy of existing growth models to address carbon emissions. Over the past few decades, income inequality has increased, which has become a major obstacle to achieving inclusive development. This widening wealth gap not only hinders social cohesion but also the possibility of broad-based economic progress. The report highlights the urgency of addressing this issue, emphasizing the need for policies and strategies that promote a more equitable distribution of resources and opportunities, thus laying the foundation for sustainable and resilient economic development.

In addition to income inequality, the report points to an important gap in the current growth model regarding carbon emissions. Despite growing awareness of environmental concerns, existing approaches to economic development have not adequately addressed the need to reduce carbon emissions. The WEF asserts that countries need to reevaluate their domestic policies to align them with global sustainability goals. It involves a fundamental shift towards environmentally conscious practices and policies that prioritize the reduction of carbon emissions, building a more sustainable and resilient economic future.

The interconnected nature of these challenges highlights the complex and multifaceted nature of the global economic landscape. The WEF’s call for the evolution of domestic policies emphasizes the need for a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach that not only addresses immediate economic concerns but also prioritizes inclusion, environmental responsibility and resilience. By tackling income inequality and carbon emissions, nations can work toward more sustainable and equitable growth trajectories, so that economic progress is not only robust, but also environmentally conscious and socially just.

Country-Specific Growth Rate:

The ‘Future of Growth’ report provides a comprehensive analysis of country-specific growth rates across various income groups from 2018 to 2023, revealing distinct trends and challenges facing nations at different economic levels. High-income countries exhibited a median growth rate of 1.01 percent during the period. Notably, their strong performance in inclusive development, with a score of 68.9, underscores their commitment to reducing social inequality. However, challenges to innovation (59.4) and sustainable development (45.8) suggest room for improvement, emphasizing the need for a more balanced and environmentally conscious growth strategy.

Upper middle income countries exhibited slightly higher growth rates at 1.32 percent, indicating a degree of economic resilience. However, the scores indicate that considerable work needs to be done in terms of innovation (39.3) and sustainable development (44), highlighting areas where policy coordination can be crucial for sustainable and inclusive growth. A resilience score of 50 suggests a moderate ability to withstand economic shocks.

Lower middle income countries outperformed their counterparts with a growth rate of 1.95 percent. Their scores in resilience (45.8) and sustainable development (50) indicate progress, requiring focused efforts in innovation (34.9) and inclusive development (44.8) to ensure a coherent and resilient economic trajectory.


The World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Growth’ report serves as a clarion call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of global economic growth. It strongly advocates breaking out of the status quo, calling on the global community to adopt an economic model that prioritizes inclusion, sustainability and resilience. The analysis presented in the report not only highlights the disparities that exist between developed and developing countries but also emphasizes the pressing need for unified and coordinated efforts to address shared challenges. By describing the flaws in current approaches to economic growth, the WEF aims to rouse countries to a collective commitment to chart a course that is more responsive to the complexities of the contemporary global landscape.

As the world charts its course through the uncertainty of post-pandemic recovery and geopolitical tensions, the WEF’s proposed comprehensive growth framework has emerged as a beacon of hope. This underscores the importance of long-term strategies that go beyond immediate gains, which aim to strengthen countries against future crises while ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources. The call for inclusion, sustainability and resilience is not just a theoretical proposition but a practical roadmap for building a stronger and fairer global economy. By adopting this forward-thinking approach, nations can lay the foundation for an economic landscape that is not only more resilient to shocks, but inherently more equitable and sustainable for future generations.

Source: WEF

Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain, a seasoned professional with a Master's degree in Mathematics, has built a rich and varied career as a banker, economist, and anti-money laundering expert. His journey in the financial sector has seen him in leading roles, notably in AL-Rajhi Banking Inc. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as Foreign Relations and Correspondent Maintenance Officer of Bank-AL-Bilad. Beyond the confines of traditional finance, Billal has emerged as a prominent writer and commentator, contributing thought-provoking columns and theses to various newspapers and online portals. His expertise spans a wide range of important global issues, including the complexities of economics, political dynamics, the plight of migrant workers, remittances, reserves, and other interrelated aspects. Billal brings a unique analytical perspective to his writing, combining academic rigor with practical insights gained from his banking career. His articles not only demonstrate a deep understanding of complex issues but also provide readers with informed perspectives, bridging the gap between theory and real-world application. Billal Hossain's contributions stand as a testament to his commitment to unraveling the complexities of our interconnected world, providing valuable insights that contribute to a broader and more nuanced understanding of the global economic landscape.


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