Igloo an unlikely symbol for Davos issues

CNN's Richard Quest builds an igloo to demonstrate the fractured issues facing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Posted: Jan 23, 2018 9:51 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2018 9:51 PM

Just as world leaders and corporate titans gather in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum, the world they influence looks like a pretty ugly and hopeless place right now -- in fact, worse than it's ever looked.

If we needed any confirmation, UN Secretary General António Guterres, in his annual outlook for 2018, told the UN General Assembly last week: "In fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse. Conflicts have deepened and new dangers have emerged."

Indeed, with at least 10 major crises crowding the caseloads of humanitarian aid agencies, we are witnessing the highest level of human suffering since World War II.

In the absence of fresh problem-solving, conflicts are sticking around longer. Syria is into its seventh year, the civil war in South Sudan into its fifth and the conflict in eastern Ukraine grinds into its fourth.

At least we have some sort of acknowledgment from Davos leaders that the world is in bad shape: The theme of the 47th summit is "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World." Some 60 heads of state and government have plenty with which to grapple.

An inward-looking United States on retreat from global engagement is now a given. It's abundantly clear that under President Donald Trump Uncle Sam has become a penny-pinching donor. The United States is also drastically capping acceptance of refugees -- far below what agencies say is required to meet demand around the world. And just at a time when more conflicts are creating new waves of desperate refugees.

With so many simultaneous, complex emergencies, many UN agencies -- especially those mandated to save lives -- are cash-starved. Translation? More people will die in places such as Yemen, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Further into 2018, expect more cuts all over the world where major humanitarian agencies are working to alleviate human suffering. Several of UN funding appeals for major emergencies -- in places such as Syria, the Central African Republic and the Congo -- are not even 50% funded.

Recently, the World Food Programme let it be known it will be canceling its food assistance program in Ukraine -- one of the poorest countries in Europe and the only that relies on food assistance. About 1 million people in war-torn eastern Ukraine will be affected. Earlier, and for the same reasons, WFP announced the suspension of nutritional aid to about 200,000 kindergarten children in North Korea.

A majority of the world's hungry people live in conflict zones. WFP estimates that 60% of all the chronically food-insecure people on the planet, almost half a billion, live in countries affected by conflict. That means when conflict arrives on their doorsteps, they edge one step closer to death.

A big reason why conflicts are becoming more lethal is that they are occurring in heavily populated urban areas, and more people are in the line of fire.

Peter Mauer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, put it best: "City centers and residential areas have become the battlefields of our time. Wars have moved into the lives, cities and homes of ordinary people in a more vicious way than ever before."

Indeed most of the horrific images we see out of Syria or Iraq are of helpless civilians caught in bombed-out city blocks.

Sadly, what makes the outlook especially bad for 2018 is that the political will to resolve conflicts and the public's compassion appear to be waning.

As many world leaders sleep walk their way through climate change, natural disasters are happening more frequently and with more severity -- and this siphons away attention and resources from the faraway, man-made disasters. If a "kindness begins at home mentality" takes hold in places such as the United States, it could mean a tougher slog raising money for the Yemens of the world.

Sure, my hope is that the Davos gathering comes up with more creative and sustainable responses to end the world's conflicts. But there needs to be a realization that the longer conflicts drag on, the harder they are to solve, and the more likely they will be inherited by future generations.

Because Davos is one of the favored platforms for world leaders and corporate titans to meet and speak, it needs to move more aggressively to forge partnerships to solve problems in poorer countries. Because other than the obvious point that it's the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.

Think of this: Companies such as Coca-Cola have developed amazing logistics that allow it to deliver a bottle of Coke to the most remote parts of northern Nigeria. And guess what? The fizzy liquid in that bottle tastes the same as one purchased in Manhattan. What if Coke and the World Health Organization were to partner and use spare space on those red trucks to deliver perishable vaccines to some of the most difficult to access parts of the world?

With growing gaps in funding, UN agencies and other humanitarian players need to get smarter with their interventions and make hard-to-come-by aid dollars stretch further -- and that means partnering with the private sector. And by the way, many people, having lost trust in other institutions, believe that businesses are the new agent of positive change in society.

While there will be plenty of self-congratulatory back-slapping in Davos by the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates on how they've managed to create impressive gains for children -- the number of childhood deaths per year has been cut in half since 1990 -- those gains are diluted when millions of children face starvation from blockades and unspeakably violent deaths from shelling and landmines.

At the end of the day, summits don't end conflicts -- political will does. And that seems to be something sorely lacking these days. When repeated calls for action for such emergencies as the largest famine the world has seen for many decades (Yemen) is met with little response, we are in a very sad place as humanity.

Who among the world's leaders gathered at Davos will step up and have the guts to talk about solutions to these raging humanitarian disasters? The world will be watching, and history will judge.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31376

Reported Deaths: 1976
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9132533
Lake3260167
Cass15816
Allen124065
St. Joseph115534
Hendricks111765
Hamilton109691
Johnson1080104
Elkhart99127
Madison58058
Bartholomew47433
Porter47321
Clark45338
LaPorte39921
Tippecanoe3693
Jackson3591
Delaware34933
Howard34517
Hancock31727
Shelby31221
Floyd31238
Boone28135
Morgan25824
Vanderburgh2422
Decatur22231
White2218
Montgomery22116
Clinton2081
Harrison18421
Noble18120
Grant18120
Dubois1782
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe15810
Henry1566
Lawrence14222
Vigo1417
Miami1371
Putnam1317
Jennings1264
Orange12422
Scott1163
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll912
Daviess8116
Steuben792
Kosciusko781
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Marshall641
Fayette634
LaGrange602
Jasper541
Washington521
Fulton461
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Clay391
Pulaski390
Randolph383
Whitley342
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb281
Knox240
Benton240
Crawford230
Perry230
Huntington222
Tipton221
Wells220
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain172
Posey170
Parke170
Spencer141
Gibson132
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31911

Reported Deaths: 1969
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5188228
Cuyahoga3927209
Marion261721
Hamilton2403128
Lucas2107229
Pickaway204235
Mahoning1334169
Summit1220159
Butler77625
Stark68289
Lorain64158
Montgomery59315
Trumbull52542
Columbiana47850
Belmont38412
Miami34830
Warren32819
Tuscarawas3122
Portage31058
Delaware29613
Medina28819
Ashtabula27732
Wood27445
Lake26711
Geauga25629
Wayne24850
Fairfield2403
Clark2066
Licking20410
Allen18931
Mercer1843
Richland1833
Clermont1815
Erie1555
Darke15116
Madison1337
Washington11718
Morrow1041
Crawford1043
Greene935
Ottawa907
Putnam8514
Monroe7111
Hocking654
Sandusky6510
Ross632
Jefferson622
Auglaize593
Huron521
Williams511
Hancock481
Muskingum450
Union430
Clinton430
Hardin400
Shelby402
Logan370
Wyandot362
Fulton360
Fayette340
Defiance322
Preble311
Guernsey310
Lawrence280
Carroll282
Champaign261
Holmes251
Brown241
Coshocton240
Knox231
Vinton190
Perry181
Highland181
Seneca182
Ashland170
Scioto150
Henry140
Athens141
Paulding130
Jackson110
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Pike60
Meigs60
Morgan50
Noble50
Van Wert50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 67°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Van Wert
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Few PM Storms Memorial Day
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events