President and CEO,
International Economic Forum of the Americas
The theme of next year’s Conference of Montreal, to be held June 10-13, 2019, is Embracing Change.
This theme is particularly significant, given the current global economic and sociopolitical context. We are going through a challenging period of profound change, which means we have to change too, with all the attendant constraints and anxieties. However, change can also be positive, creating opportunities to promote and develop new ways of thinking and acting, and paving the way to a more inclusive economy and society.
In order to embrace change, we must begin the difficult task of understanding what it means. I say “difficult” because the process involves grasping the real economic, financial, political and socio-cultural impacts of change.
We feel all the more uncertain about these changes because they are coming to areas as diverse as manufacturing with 3D printing, climate change and renewable energy, retail competing with online sales, consumption and the impact of social media, governance in the age of digital and AI, working with new technologies, etc. Either we fail to react to these changes, with possibly disastrous consequences for growth and productivity, or we thank hard about the choices we must make to not only adapt to, but also take advantage of them, by using the innovations that they have forced us to create.
Talking about change means talking about innovation and forecasting, and this involves making strategic governance choices. Here again, for these choices to be made correctly, leaders must thoroughly understand the challenges facing their organization. Which innovation will best equip the company to become more productive and competitive? What criteria should these choices be based on? At what point should we stop developing an innovation if it doesn’t deliver the expected outcome? And, how can this innovation be part of a sustainable development plan that is aligned with the fight against climate change and inequality?
All these questions are covered by the general theme of the 25th Conference of Montreal, Embracing Change; more than 4,200 participants, some 200 speakers and several international delegations are expected to attend.
Through the presentations and discussions that make up the 4-day Conference, as well as the many bilateral meetings participants will attend, they will come to understand what actions they must take to reap the greatest benefit from the changes that we face, with all the attendant implications for this New World that we are building.
I look forward to welcoming you to next year’s Conference of Montreal, from June 10 – 13. In the meantime, on behalf of the entire International Economic Forum of the Americas team, I extend my best wishes for 2019.