Sri Lanka’s young people have an important role to play in the country’s economic transformation, asserted Dr. Philipp Rösler of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board of WEF, Dr. Philipp Rösler had a wide ranging discussion with the Colombo Global Shapers Hub, on a recent visit to Sri Lanka.
Dr. Rösler, most well-known for his tenure as the Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2011-2013, conducted a round-table meeting with members of the Colombo Global Shapers Hub, amidst meeting with leaders’ in government.
The Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, operates through a network of city-based hubs developed and led by young leaders between the age 20 and 30. There are currently over 450 Hubs in over 150 countries with over 6,000 Shapers globally who are a part of the Community. The WEF supports the initiative in recognition of the role that the ‘youth’ demographic must play in shaping global affairs. The Colombo Global Shapers come from a variety of different fields, from economics, medicine, sports, dance, law, finance, and peace building.
The meeting with the Colombo Shapers was a unique opportunity to discuss the Forum’s renewed engagement with Sri Lanka, South Asian Regional Corporation, the up-coming Shape South Asia event taking place in Colombo on September 22-24 and the Forum’s future engagement with the South Asian Region. During this interaction, the Shapers also raised questions about current issues in Europe, the rise of populism and polarisation in politics around the world and the role of young people in reshaping globalisation.
Dr. Rösler reiterated the important juncture that Sri Lanka is at, in terms of taking a larger role in the regional and global community. He emphasises that the onus was now on Sri Lanka to use the resources that the WEF brings to the table, to leverage their network and expertise. The discussion also touched on the challenges associated with faster economic growth, the need for more balanced and sustainable approaches growth in the face of intensifying environmental damage.
These questions and the ensuing discussion were also important in the context of the next Shape South Asia Conference due to be held in Colombo. This is the first time in Global Shapers Community history that Sri Lanka will host the annual meeting for Shapers in the South Asian region. The three-day event in September will showcase Colombo as a thriving regional cultural centre and economic hub, in addition to being an important opportunity for Shapers to build links within the region and create opportunities to collaborate.