World Economic Forum Theme for 2018; 'Inclusive Growth'

The World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland will be held this month for the 45th time. Its slogan is: ‘improving the state of the world’. This is not an easy task, because improving what is created fundamentally wrong, makes, in my humble opinion, things ‘wronger’.
Over the course of a week, top politicians – even the President of the USA, Donald Trump will be attending – and a mixed crowd of business people, celebrities, NGO executives and journalists will be there to talk about what to do to ensure economic growth can be ‘inclusive’.  But what do they mean by inclusive growth? And why is growth necessary? I shall try to explain this from a systems, scientific viewpoint.
Growth in organisms, people, plants or animals, is possible from the beginning of life’s conception to a certain age and then decline starts to change growth into decay, because the energy stored in life is needed to feed new forms of organisms in order to continue life. Growth is therefore limited by time. Growth is necessary to create the ability for organisms to ensure survival of a species. On the top of growth, an organism is able to procreate, produce seeds to ensure the sustainability and continuity of living for its offspring.
In systems science we speak about a realm of life which we find between and within borders of functionality, i.e. between order and chaos and which can only be sustained by constant learning and adaptation. At this time we observe that the economic and financial systems that we have created contradict this natural method to sustain life. In fact they are driving systems into chaos because they refuse to learn and adapt.
Inclusive growth is impossible because these man-made systems cause exactly the opposite. We see that in our economies and financial sectors where the income gap is growing and causing an ‘exclusive’ growth, only for those who can take advantage of our so-called linear economic system. Inclusive growth can be called a linear solution that has to fit a linear financial system, which can only thrive in separation but not in inclusion of everyone and everything.
Therefore I believe that our world leaders are looking in the wrong places and have politicised business, which leads to an increased number of states and countries being run by oligarchs who are getting less interested in including the people. In fact, they are afraid of opposition and therefore information that contradicts their non-inclusive agenda is negated or suppressed.
Conclusion: inclusive growth is an oxymoron. Growth always needs to be balanced by decline to sustain life on earth. Our linear economic and financial system do not fit in a universe which is non-linear. So, I hope that our leaders, celebrities and everyone involved will read this column and start using new sciences such as cybernetics and use systems thinking.  We must understand ‘relationships’, ‘interdependence’ and ‘feedback that needs to be fed back into living systems in order to learn’. We can then change the WEF objective into ‘inclusive balance’.
This is the latest in a series of articles by Arend van Campen, founder of TankTerminalTraining. More information on the company’s activities can be found at Those interested in responding personally can contact him directly at


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