The Davos Lab: Building Our Future An Initiative of the Global Shapers Community


Today, we call on all individuals and organizations to help drive dialogue, action and change through The Davos Lab: Building Our Future, an initiative to mobilize interested citizens and stakeholders in more than 150 countries to shape a youth-driven recovery plan to address the world's converging crises. Whether you're a Global Shaper, or an interested individual, organization or partner, we put together this guide with everything you need to know to get started. Welcome and read on!

In this guide, we answer the following questions:

You can also refer to the Davos Lab Toolkit for a step-by-step guide for hosting a local dialogue.

Converging crises

COVID-19 is best characterized as a crisis within a set of crises. Take for example, today's demands for racial justice or the continuing fight against climate change and persistent income inequality. Each of these systemic failures is worsening under the pressure of a more apparent public health crisis and while the pandemic may one day subside, these pressing challenges are here to stay.

Thus, a true recovery from COVID-19 cannot be about merely achieving a new normal. Instead, we need to build back better and address the deep systemic vulnerabilities the pandemic has exposed. We are living in a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and rest our world. To learn more, read Professor Schwab's book or subscribe to the Forum's blogpodcast or videos.

What is the Davos Lab?

The Davos Lab: Building Our Future is a Global Shapers Community initiative to inspire, empower and connect young people to shape the unprecedented and grassroots global response needed to address the coronavirus pandemic and the world's other converging crises. Aggregating the insights, ideas and concerns of citizens and stakeholders in more than 150 countries worldwide, The Davos Lab will culminate in a youth-driven recovery plan featuring tangible actions to create a better future.

The youth-driven recovery plan (crowdsourced though a ten-week campaign of global dialogues and surveys held around the world) will be launched at the World Economic Forum's Special Annual Meeting 2021 and will focus on ten big recovery efforts to reset economic, social and environment systems. It will also outline a new vision for youth activism and collective action for the current decade and beyond focusing on self-inquiry, systems leadership, intergenerational allyship and more.

What are the three phases of the Davos Lab?


First, the Davos Lab will mobilize Global Shapers to reflect on the most pressing problems our generation currently faces. Shapers are invited to attend the World Economic Forum's Great Reset Dialogues and The Davos Agenda to explore existing challenges and solutions. Shapers are also invited to join the Davos Lab Launch on 27 November 2020 at 10.00 or 17.00 CET to learn more.


Second, individuals and organizations are encouraged to host local dialogues on one or more of The Davos Lab 10 Pillars to capture the views, ideas and concerns of interested citizens and stakeholders. Whether its an intimate conversation between neighbours, a podcast featuring diverse community voices or a virtual town hall mobilizing citizens at scale, dialogues inform and inspire the principles, policies and partnerships to be outlined in the youth-driven recovery plan and millennial manifesto.

All dialogues will take place between 25 January and 25 April 2021. The Davos Lab Toolkit provides a step-by-step guide to all dialogue and survey hosts. To participate, register your dialogue here.


Third, a dedicated taskforce of young people will collaborate in working groups to synthesize local, regional and global insights and co-author a youth-driven recovery plan and millennial manifesto. To contribute to both outcomes, dialogue hosts can upload their insights and outcomes using this form.

Key findings will be presented to world leaders at the World Economic Forum's Special Annual Meeting 2021. Finally, based on the insights drawn and recommendations made, Global Shapers will do what they do best – take action through hub projects and campaigns. Sustainable, impactful, replicable and scalable solutions will be showcased at the Global Shapers Annual Summit 2021.

What are 10 Pillars of The Davos Lab?

While each hub is free to explore the topic of their choosing, interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to host a dialogue on one or more of The Davos Lab's 10 Pillars. These pillars have been proposed by Klaus Schwab and key World Economic Forum platforms. They are relevant to a large group of partners and coalitions, and require our generation's urgent thought leadership. Each pillar has a list of guiding questions that should be explored in local dialogues focused on this area.

Pillars include: Inclusive Jobs, Next Generation Impact and Ethics, Digital Access, Digital Literacy, Net Zero, Conscious Consumerism, Future of Politics, Public Safety, Public Health and Mental Health. For a full description of each pillar, download The Davos Lab 10 Pillars Explained PDF.

Pillar 1: Inclusive Jobs

Nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods due to COVID-19. Among the most vulnerable are women, minorities and informal workers who are significantly impacted by lockdowns and/or are working in the hardest-hit sectors, as well as youth, who are debt-ridden and reeling from a second global recession in their formative years. For more context, click here.

  • What barriers prevent vulnerable people and social groups in your community (i.e. youth, minorities, people with disabilities, gig economy workers, etc.) from achieving decent work?
  • What workers are most at risk in your community (i.e. youth, women, minorities, gig economy workers), and what urgent actions, policies and partnerships are needed to protect them?
  • What role does education play, of an individual and their family, in favoring social mobility and economic opportunities in your community? What levers drive socio-economic empowerment?
  • What role should governments and employers play in reskilling/upskilling workers that lost jobs due to automation or the pandemic, regardless of age, gender or socio-economic background?
  • The impact of technology on work and workers is complex. How do we rectify the global impacts of technology and automation on national employment standards and protections?

Pillar 2: Next Generation Impact and Ethics

We are at an undeniable crossroads for both our economy and society, where we must decide if we will finally prioritize ‘social value’ as we seek economic growth. Recognizing that business shouldn’t be measured solely on profits is not a new notion: triple bottom line approaches have demonstrated to increase long term performance of companies and investment. And yet, to date, the adoption of these practices remains low despite growing awareness. For more context, click here.

  • Do private companies and the private sector as a whole prioritize values-based decision making in your community and/or the world? If no, what issues need to be front and center?
  • How could systems of accountability, transparency and responsibility be improved to drive more socially conscious behaviours in private companies and the private sector as a whole?
  • What is the role of the consumer, emerging and established businesses, and government in driving positive transformations that are aligned with next generation impact and ethics?
  • What policies, support systems and/or tools are needed to empower ethical business changes?
  • What are examples of effective practices for advancing next generation impact and ethics that are garnering positive commercial outcomes in your community and/or the world?

Pillar 3: Digital Access

As cities shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, internet usage surged with schools and workplaces relying heavily on virtual interactions. However, this shift exposed longstanding digital divides. Today, 3.5 billion people live without internet access thereby unable to work and learn online, thereby making our communities and institutions far less resilient to future shocks and limiting the transformative promises provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For more context, click here.

  • What is the role of the government and the private sector in achieving digital access?
  • Have governments created enabling environments that allow us to achieve digital access?
  • Digital access not only requires capital to build initial infrastructure, but more importantly, it also requires ongoing maintenance. How can we sustainably fund both capital and operating costs?
  • For people living with disabilities, assistive technology (AT) in the form of both software and hardware is critical to digital access. While AT is fairly advanced, content needs to be created in a way that is compatible with technology. How can we increase standards for accessible content online, similar to global building standards to ensure accessibility in public and private spaces?
  • Many companies want to play a role in broadening digital access, but how do we ensure net neutrality* is not distorted by private interests? * Net neutrality (also known as network neutrality), is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all Internet communications equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, source address, destination address, or method of communication.

Pillar 4: Digital Literacy

With more than half of the world’s population online, digital and other social media platforms are fundamentally transforming human interactions. While they afford users the chance to connect and create with others like never before, they require digital literacy skills to decipher fact from fiction, develop informed views and not fall prey to polarizing content. For more context, click here.

  • What are the most pressing issues in digital governance, and how should they be tackled?
  • What are the key dimensions that social media firms should report on in order to ensure clearer communication of policies such as content guidelines and enforcement to users?
  • Who should be responsible for the development and enforcement of policies to restrict hate speech and incitement to violence online, and how should these be applied?
  • What are the actions we can take in order to make sure that young people are educated from an early age in spotting disinformation and differentiating between facts and fake news?
  • Who should be responsible for educating citizens about their digital rights in your community and/or the world? What's the role of governments, tech companies, or citizens themselves?

Pillar 5: Net Zero

The moral and financial case for climate action continues to inspire major industry and policy shifts. GE recently pledged to exit coal while Beijing committed to carbon neutrality by 2060. Despite this, green investments only account for 1% of the overall 12 trillion pledged by major economies, while cities and institutions (such as universities, pension funds and other actors) continue to invest heavily in fossil fuels, undermining the prospects of a green and just transition. For more context, click here.

  • Should governments and investors ensure fossil fuels stay in the ground and instead switch to clean energy to meet growing energy demand? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Availability of protein is unequal across income and geography. How do we fairly reduce emissions from livestock? Should farms, particularly in rich countries, be required to reduce their emissions in line with climate targets? What other regulations or incentives may be needed?
  • Public transport is low-carbon. What is needed to increase the use of public transport over individual cars in order to reduce transportation sector emissions? How does the pandemic influence people’s behaviour regarding crowded spaces in cities and public transport?
  • Evidence suggests that renewable energy and energy efficiency tend to produce more jobs than fossil fuel energy, per dollar spent. What is the potential for renewable jobs in your community or country? Do you believe your government should invest in renewable energy jobs? If so, how?
  • Should world leaders address fossil fuel supply (e.g. through supporting a treaty to constrain the extraction of fossil fuels), fossil fuel demand (e.g. by electrifying transport and decarbonising electricity to avoid the consumption of fossil fuels), or both? What do you think would be the most high-impact methods for achieving such goals?
  • How can young people work alongside mayors, organizers, asset managers and other allies to help cities and institutions champion green investments and drive urgent climate action?

Pillar 6: Conscious Consumerism

Young consumers increasingly focus their purchasing power on sustainability, supporting local businesses and products that respect nature. Titled "Conscious Consumerism," this trend is pacing in the backdrop of the largest transfer of generational wealth in history that will inevitably lead to even greater consumer power. But this presents a complex collective action problem that many consumers have difficulty understanding, caring for or accessing. For more context, click here.

  • Do you believe consumers can effectively influence behavior change toward sustainable consumption by promoting their values or do think we need to legislate to achieve this change?
  • Which stakeholders do you believe would be the most important to partner with to create action on increasing sustainable consumption in your community and/or the world, and why?
  • Which of the following metrics have/world most influence your purchasing decisions and why: carbon footprint, labour standards, water consumption, packaging materials, transport distance, reparability/obsolescence rate, organic status, ethical treatment of animals, where an organization invests its funds (i.e. fossil fuels), or transparency of or lack of sustainability reporting?
  • What type of transparency and reporting standards are needed for consumers to feel empowered in making conscious consumption choices (i.e standardized annual reporting measures, standardized reporting on packaging, or something else?)
  • Does the sustainability practices of an organization or potential client influence your choice in working with them? For example, if you were in the position to choose between a job offer from a less sustainable company that paid twice as much as a second job offer from a company with better sustainability practices that paid half* as much as the first - which job would you choose and why? *Note – both jobs would provide a living wage.

Pillar 7: Future of Politics

Policymakers, and the public sector, face their biggest test in generations. Rising income inequality, job displacement by technology-driven innovation in tandem with the coronavirus pandemic and growing socio-economic and racial inequalities, are some of our era-defining moments. Responding poorly to the world's converging crises strengthens the growing calls globally to transform the future of politics and rebuild government institutions from the ground up. For more context, click here.

  • How can we reimagine policymaking/politics and government to engage more citizens, especially women, youth and minorities and/or underrepresented groups?
  • What does the future of politics and the 21st-century politician and policymakers look like?
  • How can we encourage new candidates to run for office or become policymakers?
  • How can we reverse low voter turnout in your community and/or the world?
  • How do you meaningfully engage in politics in your community and/or country?
  • Do you believe that young people should have more representation in the public sector?

Pillar 8: Public Safety

Public safety consistently ranks as a key priority for city leaders and residents alike. However, violence against women and other minorities has brought the efficacy of such efforts into question. Still, 1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, and members of the LGBTI community are still targeted. Moreover, global calls to end police brutality against Black communities has amounted to the largest civil rights movement of our generation. For more context, click here.

  • Do you feel safe having a conversation about public safety in your community?
  • What are the benefits of living in a diverse and inclusive society and/or world?
  • What is the biggest contributor to crime/lack of safety in your community? Do you think the contributors are the same for different groups of people in your community?
  • Who is the most susceptible to lack of safety in your community?
  • Are there societal structures/systems that inherently compromise public safety?
  • What are some of the best practices to achieve safety from both public and private sector perspectives in your community and/or the world?

Pillar 9: Public Health

With more than 100 million people affected and countless lives lost, COVID-19 is the biggest threat to public health today. While it has affected nearly every community, it has nevertheless revealed deep-seated inequalities disproportionately impacting historically disadvantaged groups, bringing attention to pre-existing disparities influenced by socioeconomic status, race and culture. The time is now to reset health systems and achieve universal health care. For more context, click here.

  • What are the health service needs in your community and/or country? What priority areas require more attention from local actors and stakeholders? What targeted populations or locations could benefit more? Who are the power-holders, influencers, critical interest groups?
  • How can governments help the society, especially in low socio-economic parts of society, to implement lifestyle changes and behavioral changes leading to a better public health?
  • What are the needs of frontline healthcare workers and other healthcare professionals so we can improve the healthcare and healthcare systems in our countries?
  • What approaches and tools will promote innovation, protect society from harm and build individuals’ trust in the use of technology in healthcare?
  • How do we retain and upskill healthcare professionals skilled in traditional caregiving methods and equip clinical workforce and patients to embrace technology-enabled care?
  • What policies, practices and partnerships do you think will help radically improve health system effectiveness and resilience?

Pillar 10: Mental Health

One in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives and the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating this reality. Millions of people worldwide are now struggling to cope with the unprecedented uncertainty, loss, grief and isolation associated with the pandemic. Mental health support systems need to be reimagined to ensure all people get the help they need to overcome today's current global mental health crisis. For more context, click here.

  • What does mental health mean to you? How is mental health similar/different to physical health?
  • Do you feel you can speak openly about mental health in your household and/or community? For example, would you tell someone if you were experiencing a crisis or were to start therapy?
  • How or when would you know whether or not you need professional mental health support?
  • How do social/cultural norms, or other experiences, affect mental health in your community?
  • How do modern ways of socializing/relating to other people have an impact on mental health?
  • How can we safeguard access to mental health support networks to ensure no one is left behind?

What is the Davos Lab Taskforce?

A dedicated taskforce of Global Shapers and Alumni has been created to ensure that young people are directly involved in the design and implementation of The Davos Lab. The taskforce consists of 25 members who work together to help mobilize multi-stakeholder dialogues and surveys, as well as synthesize key findings into a single report to be launched at the 2021 Special Annual Meeting.

Members of the taskforce were announced in December 2020 and can be found here.

In addition to the taskforce, we thank all Global Shapers, World Economic Forum initiatives, individuals and organizations around the world, who provided insight into the creation of The Davos Lab, including members of our Impact Area Steering Committees and the Reimagine Society Project.

What are the next steps to engage?

  1. Register your local dialogue at wef.ch/gsc-davos-lab-dialogue (remember all dialogues must take place before Sunday 25 April 2021 to be reflected in the youth-driven recovery plan).
  2. Read the dialogue toolkit via wef.ch/gsc-davos-lab-toolkit for a step-by-step guide to designing and facilitating your local dialogue through a collaborative approach.
  3. Learn more about the 10 Pillars at weforum.box.com/v/gsc-davos-lab-pillars and select one or more pillars to concentrate your local dialogue. Ask the complementary dialogue questions.
  4. Share insights from your dialogue via wef.ch/gsc-davos-lab-insights (once your dialogue is finished, upload your findings and The Davos Lab Taskforce will include them in the final report).
  5. Share The Davos Lab Survey in your networks via wef.ch/gsc-davos-lab-survey (share this link on social media or with friends, family or followers to reach as many people as possible).
  6. Join a TopLink Working Group here to connect with other Global Shapers and The Davos Lab Taskforce members working on one or more of the 10 Pillars you're most passionate about.