Thinking Global Is Driving Innovation

70,000 people, gathered from over 160 countries, in one city, with one mission. 

Is that not powerful? Gathering different minds and talents, values and cultures, genders and ages— all in a single room? 

I had the honor to make the opening remarks for Future Societies at the Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon. And as I stood across a crowd of 70,000 people from all across the globe, I was reminded once again about the power of a global community with a global mission.  

As one of the largest tech conferences in the world, I had the chance to connect with industry leaders and visionaries such as Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, and Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Siyabulela Mandela.  

And when the conversation about the state of our future comes from such a diverse group of global game-changers and catalyzers; the outcome is powerful.  

All of us in that room have come from very different walks of life— from Mr. Smith of Microsoft, to the Irish millennial boy sitting across the room. And apart from the passion we all shared for technology, we have another vital thing in common: a passport. 

Most of us rarely think about it but we all, rich or poor, young or old, have a document in our pocket that either helps us reach new frontiers— or is rather a barrier limiting them. 

For some, passports have evolved from a mere travel document, to a tool of opportunity, freedom, knowledge, and… power.  For others, it keeps them locked into lines drawn on a map.

It was essentially what enabled us to gather in that room that day, and although there is no identity document that can confirm it—we are all adopting the mindset and the lifestyle of Global Citizens.  

Not through our passports, but by our own choice and conviction. 

Even governments are slowly adopting this ethos of opening the world and thinking global. We can clearly see this through the Welcoming Score patterns on the leading mobility intelligence platform, The Passport Index. Year after year, more countries are signing visa waivers and encouraging movement and mobility. 

This is a trend that is also being witnessed through the citizenship by investment industry, where more and more governments are turning to this sustainable method of attracting foreign direct investments to their countries and bringing in more opportunities for their citizens.  

The Web Summit was a perfect testament that in our own ways, we are all looking to contribute to the betterment of society; and that we are not only interconnected with one another, but interdependent for the sake of our future. 

And yes, the world has witnessed major innovation over the past few decades. But being part of the Web Summit showed me once again, how welcoming diversity and differences, blurring our borders, and thinking global, drives innovation further and empowers the use of technology to set the groundwork for humanity’s biggest evolutionary challenges. 

6 November 2019; Speakers, from left, Ro Khanna, Representative, House of Representatives, Brad Smith, President, Microsoft, and Karen Tso, Anchor, Squawk Box, CNBC, on Future Societies stage during day two of Web Summit 2019 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile
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