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Is global economic inequality getting worse?

Yes, said the majority of respondents in a recent GZERO poll.

What's happening in Ukraine has undone much of the momentum for narrowing the equality gap created during the pandemic, said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft. The event was held on site at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, DC , and was moderated by Jeanna Smialek, Federal Reserve reporter at The New York Times. The war has aggravated pre-existing problems like high inflation and supply chain disruptions. A cease-fire would help end all this, but don't count on it.

This week the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are holding their annual spring meetings. The conflict is top and center on the agenda, as is financial assistance to first help Ukraine keep the lights on and someday rebuild when the Russians leave.


"We're working on that," World Bank President David Malpass said upon joining the discussion just minutes after meeting Ukrainian officials. Beyond the conflict itself, Malpass is now more broadly concerned about the global economic slowdown and whether central banks have the tools for a soft landing after raising interest rates to fight inflation.

One country that's successfully stood up to the Russian threat is Lithuania, whose Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė talked about her country's long-term energy independence strategy. Lithuania recently became the first EU member state to completely wean itself off Russian fossil fuels.

And what about the ripple effects from the conflict in other parts of the world, like food security? This is a big deal in countries in the Middle East and North Africa that rely heavily on Russian and Ukrainian wheat imports like Egypt.

Rania Al-Mashat, Egyptian minister for international cooperation, explained how her country diversified its food imports to soften the impact of such disruptions.

Later this year, Egypt is hosting the COP27 climate summit. But even more importantly, right before that meeting there will be a G20 summit in Indonesia — and Russia's invited.

What'll happen? Will the US and its allies walk out of rooms when the Russians show up? The G20 consensus has been fragmented, said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Indeed it has, added Bremmer, who believes the war in Ukraine is "ripping up the fabric of geopolitics" for years to come.

Finally, Vickie Robinson, head of Microsoft's Airband Initiative to expand broadband access throughout the developing world, shared her perspective about how getting more people online will help achieve global equality.

More from Global Stage

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A behind-the-scenes look at a cool workspace that quickly became the go-to gathering spot for everyone from members of the media to heads of state in Davos, Switzerland, for the 53rd World Economic Forum. Our partner and sponsor for the Global Stage series, Microsoft, hosted a diverse array of guests throughout the week at their café, located on the Promenade directly across from the Congress Center where the mainstage Forum events take place. Microsoft’s VP of Global Public Affairs, Steve Clayton, took us on a tour of the facility.

Putin's tragic genius: war crimes & isolated Russia

In a Global Stage delegate interview, on the ground in Davos, Ian Bremmer speaks to an old friend of the show, former Finnish PM Alexander Stubb. Stubb explains why Crimea is crucial for Ukraine's conception of "victory" against Russia and why Finland views its eastern neighbor with suspicion.

AI at the tipping point: danger to information, promise for creativity

Artificial intelligence is on everyone's mind these days. The potential for AI to mess up democracy is scary, but the truth is that it can also make the world a better place. So, are bots good or bad for us? We asked a few experts to weigh in during the Global Stage livestream conversation "Risks and Rewards of AI," hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft at this year's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Fighting crimes against humanity in a world of crisis

Volker Türk, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is surprisingly candid about one of his organization's most famous shortcomings. The Security Council, which includes Russia as a permanent member, is "dysfunctional" on Ukraine. In a Global Stage delegate interview on the ground in Davos, Türk tells Ian Bremmer that believes it is critical that the Ukrainians, just as much as the Russians, abide by international human rights law.

Ian Bremmer: the risk of AI and empowered rogue actors

For years, the conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has mostly put artificial intelligence on the back burner. Not anymore. We're now in a "transformative" moment for AI in terms of how the tech can disrupt the world in both good and bad ways, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer says in a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft.

Artificial intelligence and the importance of civics

What's more important to fight AI-enabled disinformation: policies or social norms? Eileen Donahoe, executive director of Stanford University's Global Digital Policy Incubator, believes we haven't done enough on the cultural level and in terms of civic education. But, should governments ban AI? She's on the fence when asked during a Global Stage livestream conversation hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft.

Digital Equity