(Reuters) – Reuters Next is hosting three days of interviews, panels and presentations with 150+ global leaders discussing the biggest business, social and environmental challenges for the year ahead.
Following are some notable quotes from the first day of the Dec. 1-3 conference.
To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next
KATE BINGHAM, FORMER HEAD OF UK VACCINE TASKFORCE
“It’s not something you can do overnight, but we will get data, I would have thought within a week as to whether or not the vaccines work (against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus) or don’t.”
U.S. DEMOCRATIC POLITICIAN STACEY ABRAMS
On Congress passing two key bills to protect voting rights: “I remain very bullish on the possibility of us getting these bills passed. But that means we have to keep talking about it. And we have to keep amplifying the real effects of these laws.”
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL
On Russia using force against Ukraine: “We all made it very clear that there will be a high price to pay and sanctions is one of the options. I think it’s quite obvious that Russia already knows that they will pay a higher price.”
PASCHAL DONOHOE, HEAD OF EUROGROUP OF EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTERS
“I am confident about our ability to sustain a strong recovery into next year. I hope we can avoid those broad (coronavirus public) health measures again. I am equally confident that we will be able to allow consumption and investment to take place along side them were they to happen,” he said.
CARINE SMITH IHENACHO, HEAD OF GOVERNANCE AND COMPLIANCE, NORWAY’S SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND
“We have for a long time focused on better company disclosure … Now we are focusing more on actions. So now you need to go from numbers to action, concrete steps that companies are taking to meet the expectations.”
SEBASTIAN SIEMIATKOWSKI, CEO, KLARNA
“I am just hoping for Klarna that by the time we go public, there is a strong enough reputation for the business … as you have been able to see with somebody like (Tesla Inc TSLA.O CEO Elon) Musk or (Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O founder) Jeff Bezos, where it’s almost like nobody reads those quarterly reports,” he said.
CARLOS TAVARES, CEO, STELLANTIS
On pressure to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles: “What has been decided is to impose on the automotive industry electrification that brings 50% additional costs against a conventional vehicle. There is no way we can transfer 50% of additional costs to the final consumer because most parts of the middle class will not be able to pay.”
KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE
“I do expect the rules of the existing (European Union) Stability and Growth Pact to be changed, taking into account the lessons of the financial crises and also the lessons of the pandemic.”
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, HEAD OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
“I think it (WTO reform) will be very tough because of the lack of trust among members.
“It’s absolutely important that we support multilateral trade and we don’t take it for granted.”
VALDIS DOMBROVSKIS, EUROPEAN COMMISSION EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT
“One can say that this year was indeed a breakthrough year for EU-U.S. trade relations.
“There are clearly things to watch, but what I can say is that we are now engaging constructively so I am confident we are able to address any issues or concerns that are coming.”
THOMAS SCHMALL, VOLKSWAGEN BOARD MEMBER
On VW’s planned European battery cell plants: “We are talking about 25 to 30 billion (cost, in euros) … including the vertical chain of raw materials, not only the factories.”
On being carbon neutral by 2050: “And this altogether brings us in this closed loop and hopefully show you that we are taking care from the beginning on, from the first step, from the mining process, to be sustainable, until the last point of battery lives and car lives and recycling.”
YAT SIU, CHAIRMAN AND CO-FOUNDER OF ANIMOCA BRANDS
“One way to describe the growth of the metaverse is a little bit like the growth of China 30 years ago, in a more limited fashion.
“Maybe people didn’t understand it but you could see the growth factors that make China work: population growth, industry growth, all that kind of stuff. The metaverse is the equivalent.”
“What Facebook is doing with meta … is a ‘fake metaverse,’ unless they actually have a real description as to how we can truly own it.
“Until then, it’s just Disneyland. It’s a beautiful place to be, but we probably don’t want to really live there. It’s not the kind of place that we can actually build a business.”
LORENZO BERTELLI, PRADA MARKETING CHIEF AND HEIR-DESIGNATE
“Second-hand (fashion) is a strategy we have been investigating for more than a year. I cannot disclose too much but for sure second-hand is there. We will take it as an opportunity.
“It can be a partnership with a player or it can be something more in-house, or both of them, a sort of hybrid solution like for e-commerce.”
FALGUNI NAYAR, FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF INDIAN COSMETICS-TO-FASHION RETAILER NYKAA
“The process of store expansion had slowed down due to (COVID-19) pandemic for a year or so. But this year we have revived our store rollout.
“(Many Indians are) yet to buy their first watch, first car, first home – I think India is in a very different place compared to other developed economies.”
ANDRE DE RUYTER, CEO OF SOUTH AFRICAN STATE POWER UTILITY ESKOM
On shifting away from coal: “Hopefully we can persuade people to come and set up factories here, to build components for renewable energy, that will create jobs that will create demand for electricity which will turn this challenge that we have got at the moment from a vicious downward cycle into a virtuous upward cycle.”
SOPHIE GOOSSENS, PARTNER AT REED SMITH SPECIALISING IN TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA LAW
“The type of rights that you are being granted on digital ownership of an NFT are slightly different. You may not have the right to control fully the asset that you own as an NFT.”
NATALIE JOHNSON, FOUNDER OF NEUNO, A FORTHCOMING MARKETPLACE FOR FASHION BRAND NFTS
“You don’t need to be a hardcore gamer to be embracing and playing with this new technology. It’s going to be for everyone.”
JOHN MOORE, PROFESSOR OF MICROBIOLOGY AND IMMUNOLOGY AT WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE IN NEW YORK
“It is no coincidence to most of us that (the Omicron coronavirus variant) arose in Sub Saharan Africa, where you have a lot of under-diagnosed HIV infections, or people who are immunocompromised with it.
“That’s how the other variants are thought to have arisen – in immunocompromised people.”
WINNIE BYANYIMA, UNAIDS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
“We do expect that in the coming years, we might see more (HIV/AIDS) deaths, we might see more new infections as a result of these (COVID-19 pandemic) disruptions.”
MEG TAYLOR, FORMER SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM
On U.S.-China rivalry in the Pacific: “Everybody comes with price tags. I can see this starting to emerge now with the bases – the U.S. is now going to establish bases throughout the region.”
On the COP26 climate talks: “I just expected countries to be much more progressive, especially with what the threats are to the Pacific.”
ANOTE TONG, FORMER PRESIDENT OF KIRIBATI
“I don’t think the global community has ever truly understood what it is that we face with the impacts of climate change. It is an existential threat.”
WALTER SCHALKA CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF BRAZILIAN PULP AND PAPER MAKER SUZANO
“Climate change is something we cannot procrastinate on anymore. The way for the future to finance that will be through a global regulated carbon market.”
TORBJØRG FOSSUM, VICE PRESIDENT FOR GLOBAL CCS SOLUTIONS AT EQUINOR
“Today there is a gap between what it costs to emit (the) CO2 and what it costs to implement CCS (carbon capture and storage). We believe that that gap is closing within the next 10 years.”
“We believe there is potential to break even at 100 euros per tonne.”
(Compiled by Catherine Evans, Kirsten Donovan; Editing by Alexander Smith)